"Treehouse of Horror III" is a Halloween-themed episode from the fourth season of the animated comedy series The Simpsons. It was first broadcast in the United States on the Fox Network on October 29, 1992. In common with the Simpsons Halloween specials from 1990 and 1992, it is made up of three self-contained stories that are connected by a framing device. As in the previous year's Halloween special, the opening credits sequence shows gravestones with jokey names on them and "scary" versions of the names of the cast and crew appear in the opening and closing credits. The program opens with a warning that the content may be unsuitable for some viewers, although it is delivered in a much less serious manner than in previous years. The aliens Kang and Kodos, first introduced in "Treehouse of Horror" in 1990, make a brief appearance.
The three segments that make up the episode are "Clown Without Pity", "King Homer" and "Dial 'Z' for Zombies". The first segment is based primarily on a 1963 Twilight Zone episode called "Living Doll" and the 1973 TV movie Trilogy of Terror. It is also reminiscent of the movie Child's Play and its sequels. The second segment is a parody of the 1933 movie King Kong. The third segment spoofs zombie movies, in particular the 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead.
Opening and framing device
In a parody of the opening of the 1960s TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Homer Simpson appears in silhouette before addressing the audience. He says that there are some people, "religious types, mostly" who do not care for Halloween and may be better off not watching the episode. He then taunts those members of the audience, calling them "chicken" and daring them to turn off their televisions. The screen then goes black, although Homer and Marge can still be heard.
The episode opens at the Simpsons' house where the children of Springfield are gathered in their costumes for a Halloween party. The children are not happy that fruit is served instead of candy and Bart Simpson (dressed as one of the juvenile delinquents from the 1971 movie A Clockwork Orange) finds the party dull, wishing that he were out trick-or-treating instead. His mother Marge says that a lot of excitement can be had inside the house and begins to tell the tale of a witch who died in a horrible way, passing around what she says are parts of the witch's body for the children to touch. Her story comes to an abrupt end because Homer eats all the witch's body parts, in reality food items.
Lisa Simpson suggests that they can each tell scary stories and proceeds to tell one herself.
"Clown Without Pity"
Lisa Simpson tells the story "Clown Without Pity".
Having forgotten to get a birthday present for his son Bart, Homer Simpson rushes out to buy one. He goes to a shop named House of Evil. An elderly Chinese shopkeeper, reminiscent of the character Mr. Wing from the movie Gremlins, offers Homer a talking Krusty the Klown doll but warns him that it carries a curse. Bart is delighted to get the doll. Grandpa Simpson cries out that the toy is evil but has said the same thing about all of Bart's presents, only doing so to get attention.
Homer later plays with the doll, which suddenly announces that it wants to kill him. Homer finds that funny at first, until the doll goes after him with a large knife. The doll makes several attempts on Homer's life. The other members of the family do not believe him when he says that his life is in danger, until Marge sees the doll attempt to choke him.
Marge calls the telephone number on the doll's box and a repairperson arrives. The repairperson immediately notices that the doll has been set to "Evil" and changes its setting to "Good".
Once the doll has been switched to "Good" mode, Homer is able to use it to do chores, such as walking the dog and giving him a sponge bath. The doll dislikes the work but is able to relax in the doll house with his girlfriend Malibu Stacy at the end of the day.
Grandpa Simpson tells the story "King Homer". The segment is a spoof of the 1933 movie King Kong and, for that reason, is in black and white.
Marge joins Mr. Burns expedition to Ape Island in search of the legendary giant ape King Homer. On arrival, the crew try to hide from the island's natives but Marge is unable to hide her tall blue hair. The natives take her as a sacrifice to King Homer. Marge is terrified of the gigantic ape at first but King Homer takes an immediate liking to her perfume and the two soon form a relationship.
Mr. Burns knocks the ape unconscious with gas bombs, although it is still able to eat Burns' assistant Smithers after the gas has put it to sleep, and transports it to New York.
On display in a Broadway theater, the ape becomes angered by the flash bulbs on reporters' cameras. It breaks its chains, bursts into a neighboring theater where it eats Shirley Temple and abducts Marge. King Homer attempts to climb the Empire State Building but is unable to get past the second floor, being out of condition due to eating too many people and not enough vegetables, as Marge points out. The ape falls to the ground. It survives but Mr. Burns decides that King Homer's show business career is over.
The segment ends with the marriage of King Homer to Marge. During the ceremony, the ape eats Marge's father, although she laughs that off as one of her new husband's quirks.
"Dial 'Z' for Zombies"
Bart Simpson tells the story "Dial 'Z' for Zombies".
After Bart gives a book report based on a book for pre-schoolers that he did not even finish reading, his teacher insists that he does the assignment again. Searching for another book, he notices an occult section in his school's library and finds a book of magic. As soon as he opens the book, ghostly faces appear on the page and wail the word, "Evil", Bart, however, simply thinks that is "cool".
At home, Bart enthusiastically reads what the book says about zombies to his sister Lisa. According to the book, zombies feed on the brains of the living and anybody who is bitten by one changes into a zombie too. Lisa is not interested. She is sad because it has been a year since her cat Snowball I was run over and killed. Bart decides to cheer up his sister by using the book's magic to bring the cat back to life. Bart and Lisa go to the pet cemetery where the boy begins to recite a spell. Snowball I does not return to life but all the human corpses in the neighboring cemetery are resurrected as zombies.
The town of Springfield is soon overrun by zombies, many of its residents having been transformed after being bitten. From their spaceship high above the Earth, the aliens Kang and Kodos watch the events there with glee.
The Simpsons barricade their house but Homer forgets to block the back door and zombies burst in. Homer offers himself as a sacrifice to the zombies in order to give his family enough time to escape. The zombies are disappointed at how little brain Homer has and decide to leave him alone.
Lisa suggests that the school library may have a book which could reverse the spell that Bart cast. Homer arms himself with a shotgun and they head to the school. After Homer fights off several zombies, including those of George Washington, Albert Einstein and William Shakespeare, Bart locates a book with a spell that makes the zombies return to their graves.
The segment ends with the family announcing how happy they are that they did not become mindless zombies, before staring blankly at their television and Homer saying in a slow monotone, "Man fall down. Funny."