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TreeHouse 4
Directed by: David Silverman
Written by: Conan O'Brien
Bill Oakley
Josh Weinstein
Dan McGrath
Greg Daniels
Bill Canterbury
Release date: October 28, 1993
Running time: 22 minutes

"Treehouse of Horror IV" is the fourth Halloween episode of the animated sitcom The Simpsons, aired in the show's fifth season. It originally aired on the Fox Network in the United States on October 28, 1993, and features three short stories called "The Devil and Homer Simpson", "Terror at 5½ Feet", and "Bart Simpson's Dracula". The episode was directed by David Silverman and co-written by Conan O'Brien, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Greg Daniels, Dan McGrath and Bill Canterbury.

SynopsisEdit

IntroEdit

Bart is seen walking around a room with paintings in light of Rod Serling's Night Gallery and tries to introduce the show but Marge and Maggie interrupt telling Bart to tell the viewers the show is scary but Bart ignores and we watch the first part.

The Devil and Homer SimpsonEdit

The Devil and Homer Simpson
Homer-Donuthell

Homer being force-fed doughnuts in Hell.

In a parody of The Devil and Daniel WebsterHomer falls asleep at work, dreaming of donuts. When he wakes up to get one to eat, he finds out from Lenny and Carl that the remaining donuts have already been eaten. Homer then declares that he'd sell his soul for a donut, causing the Devil (in the form of Ned Flanders) to appear. After signing a contract, Homer is given his donut, with the provision that as soon as it's finished, the Devil will own his soul. However, Homer finds a loophole: if he doesn't finish the donut, he's safe. Homer openly mocks this loophole, to which the Devil promises that he will go to Hell eventually. One evening, Homer goes down to the kitchen, and without realizing it, eats the last of the donut. As expected, the Devil comes to take Homer's soul, but Lisa asks him to hold a trial, which the Devil agrees to. However, Homer must spend the day in Hell being severely tortured. Aside from being chopped into pieces, the Blue Demon in the Ironic Punishment Division laughingly plans to feed Homer all the donuts in the world (this plan backfires when Homer gleefully keeps eating, much to the confusion of the demon). Back on Earth, Marge already has the trial area set up and hires Lionel Hutz to defend Homer.

The Devil and Hutz barter on specific terms before the trial begins: The Devil agrees to Hutz's request for bathroom breaks, and Hutz agrees that the Devil can choose the jury. The Devil's jury includes Benedict Arnold, Lizzy Borden, Richard Nixon (still alive at the time), John Wilkes Booth, Blackbeard the Pirate, John Dillinger, and the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers. The Devil gives the evidence of the contract Homer signed, pledging his soul for a donut. Lionel Hutz counters with the definition of a contract according to the dictionary, stating it as something that is unbreakable. Realizing that he's put his foot in his mouth, Hutz asks to be excused to the bathroom. When he doesn't return immediately, Marge finds the bathroom window open and Hutz long gone.
Treehouse of Horror IV

As the judge prepares to sentence Homer, Marge shows the jury a photo album showing their wedding day, where Homer's eating of the whole wedding cake sent them to the emergency room. On the back of a photograph, it is revealed that in a statement of love to Marge, Homer pledged his soul to her. This causes the jury to declare Homer's deal with the Devil to be revoked. However, the Devil is not willing to let Homer best him. With a zap of his power, the Devil turns Homer's head into a donut.

Donut Head Homer

Homer's head after being turned into a donut by Flanders the Devil.

The next morning, Homer can't stop eating parts of his head. As he decides to go to work, Lisa cautions him to stay home because standing outside the house are the Springfield Police Department, waiting to rip apart his donut-made head and enjoy it with their morning coffee.

Terror at 5½ FeetEdit

Gremlin 2

Bart watches the Gremlin tear apart the Bus in Terror at 5 1/2 Feet.

Terror at 5½ Feet
In a parody of the Twilight Zone episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", Bart has a nightmare where the bus crashes and wakes up very paranoid. Bart and Lisa then get on the bus on one rainy morning with Principal Skinner on the bus. Lisa informs everyone that Bart is acting paranoid, and asks that they act nice to him, causing everyone to laugh at him instead. In the middle of the ride, Bart hears tapping on the window, but it is only Groundskeeper Willie, who says he had to put down his mule and needs a ride. Bart's nightmare then comes true when a Gremlin is attacking the bus. Bart keeps trying to warn everyone, but every time Bart looks, the gremlin hides and it even causes Otto to destroy Hans Moleman's AMC Gremlin. Bart then becomes very annoying and it causes Skinner to close the window, and forces Bart to sit next to Üter, the German foreign exchange student. Bart eventually gets the emergency flares and throws one at the gremlin, knocking it off the bus, only to be picked up by Ned. After arriving safely to the school, everyone notices severe damage done to the outside of the bus. Bart stopped the gremlin from destroying the bus, but with no one as an alibi, he is declared insane for his behavior and is sent to the New Bedlam Insane Asylum for the rest of his life. On the way, Bart begins to relax at the thought of never having to worry about the gremlin. At that moment, the gremlin shows up at ambulance's back window and shows Bart Ned Flanders severed head, causing him to scream uncontrollably.

Bart Simpson's DraculaEdit

Bart Simpson's Dracula
Bart brings us to the famous "Dogs Playing Poker" picture (Homer is frightened at this painting), explaining they had a story to go with it, but it was "far too intense". So they had to put a random story about vampires together.

In a parody of Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Simpsons are watching TV to find out a vampire has been attacking people and this convinces Lisa vampires are real, though Homer debunks her, despite a report following of Mr. Burns buying a blood bank. Burns has blood visible from his mouth which he quickly slurps up. The Simpsons are then invited to Mr. Burns' mansion for dinner in Pennsylvania. There it is obvious that Burns is a vampire (with Smithers acting as Renfield) but no one believes Lisa despite obvious evidence (Burns' unknowingly mentioning over the entrance intercom how the family will be "fresh victims for his ever-growing army of the undead", Burns' shadow moving on its own etc). Bart and Lisa find Mr. Burns' secret lair while cleaning themselves from spilling "punch" (really blood) on themselves, which can be easily accessed by staircase. The vampires in the lair awaken, causing the two to flee. Bart notices a "Super Happy Fun Slide" commenting "Maybe I shouldn't... But when am I going to be here again?", and pulls it, turning the stairs into a slide.

Burnsvampiro

Mr. Burns, post-converting Bart

Bart Captured By The Vampires

Bart captured by the vampires and about to be bitten by Mr. Burns

Bart slides right into the clutches of a vampire woman while the rest of undead surround him. He's then presented to Mr. Burns who suddenly arrives transforming from a bat and stands over Bart menacingly (despite not knowing his name: "Well if it isn't little.. um... boy.") before biting him in the neck. Lisa makes it back to her parents and warns them, but they don't believe her when Burns appears, blood on his very visible fangs, with a clearly bitten Bart, who drones in a zombie tone that nothing happened to him. Later that night at the Simpsons home, Bart, now a vampire, visits Lisa's window. Showing her that he's bitten and vamped some of the Springfield kids (Milhouse, Martin, Ralph and Jamie), with Lisa being next. He break through the window, pins her down and bears his fangs. Just as he about to bite her, Homer, hearing the noise bursts into the room stopping him. This quickly reveals to the family that he's a vampire while Bart changes into a bat and flees into the night. Lisa tells her parents the only way to get Bart back is to kill Mr. Burns. They sneak back into his castle and stake Burns in his coffin (though not before Burns briefly comes back to life and fires Homer).

The Simpsons - Vampire Family Attacks Lisa

The vampire family prepares to bite Lisa.

The Simpsons are then eating dinner and Lisa finds out that her whole family are vampires and that Marge is the real head vampire. The family then swoop in on Lisa but they stop and Halloween  sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", parodying A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The episode finished 17th in the ratings for the week of it aired, with a Nielsen rating of 14.5. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week.

ProductionEdit

"Treehouse of Horror IV" was directed by David Silverman and co-written by Conan O'Brien, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Greg Daniels, Dan McGrath and Bill Canterbury. It is the fourth episode of the annual Treehouse of Horror Halloween specials.[1] As with the rest of the Halloween specials, the episode is considered non-canon and falls outside of the show's regular continuity. O'Brien worked on the "wraparounds" of Bart introducing each segment to make sure that they "pulled" the episode together.[2] The wraparounds are based on Rod Serling's television series Night Gallery, in which Serling appears at an art gallery and introduces each episode by unveiling paintings depicting the stories. Executive producer James L. Brooks loved the show, so it was "great fun" for him to do the parody.[3] Show runner David Mirkin thought the Treehouse of Horror episodes were the hardest episodes to do because the staff had to fit in all three stories in only 22 minutes. Mirkin said, "Things had to happen really fast. They're really just crammed with jokes and story beats and everything."[4]

The first segment, "The Devil and Homer Simpson", was written by Daniels and McGrath.[5] The first time Devil Flanders appears, he looks the same as the devil Chernabo from the 1940 Walt Disney produced film Fantasia; Silverman particularly admired the animation in that sequence.[6] Oakley loved the idea of Flanders being the Devil because he is the one you would least expect. He also thought Harry Shearer did a good job of playing Flanders in a much darker way, while remaining very true to the character.[7] Many scenes had to be cut to shorten the segment, including one that showed Homer's severed head being used as a bowling ball by a demon in hell. This scene later appeared in the clip show episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacula", which aired in the show's The seventh season.[4]

The second segment, "Terror at 5½ Feet", was written by Oakley and Weinstein. It was inspired by an episode of The Twilight Zone called "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", in which William Shatner's character is inside an airplane watching a gremlin tear apart the wing. Silverman watched the episode to get inspiration for Bart's facial expressions.[6] Oakley said there was a lot of work put into the design of the gremlin in "Terror at 5½ Feet" to make him scary "within The Simpsons universe".[7] Silverman designed the gremlin based on The Grinch.[6] Mirkin said he felt the gremlin was well-done because he looked scary and "yet it looks like a completely organic Simpsons character". Üter, a character from Germany, also makes his first appearance on the show in this segment; he was conceived as a one-time joke, but reappeared in later episodes because Mirkin felt he was "such a perfect stereotype".[4]

The third segment, "Bart Simpson's Dracula", was written by Canterbury. It is based on Francis Ford Coppola's film Bram Stoker's Dracula. Mirkin was a big fan of the film and pushed for a segment about vampires inspired by the movie. He liked the final result and felt Mr. Burns was perfect in the role as Dracula.[4] Dracula and his castle was designed by Silverman. Mirkin, a "big" Peanuts fan, came up with the idea for the ending of "Bart Simpson's Dracula".[6]

Cultural referencesEdit

The wraparound segments are a reference to Rod Serling's television series Night Gallery.[8] "Terror at 5½ Feet" is a parody of The Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".[1] The title and a majority of the plot of "Bart Simpson's Dracula" is a parody of the Francis Ford Coppola film Bram Stoker's Dracula.[1] The ending of "Bart Simpson's Dracula" is a reference to A Charlie Brown Christmas.[8] The title "The Devil and Homer Simpson" is a reference to the short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster" in which a farmer has sold his soul for prosperity but is then defended in court against the Devil with a jury of the Devil's choosing. The demon who is feeding Homer donuts says: "I don't understand it. James Coco went mad in fifteen minutes!"[9] James Coco was a character known in the 1970s...He parodied the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, penned by Agatha Christie. In the movie, James Coco’s character throws a volley of subtle food jokes. In his last years, Coco received attention for his culinary talents and best-selling cookbooks. The James Coco Diet, an educational book which included chapters on menu planning and behavior modification as well as choice recipes), was just one that he promoted on the talk show circuit. It is probably not a coincidence that he often played characters with extreme food issues.[10] The jury at Homer's trial consists of John Wilkes Booth, Lizzie Borden, John Dillinger, Blackbeard, Benedict Arnold, the starting lineup of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers, and Richard Nixon.[1] The first time the Devil appears, he resembles the demon Chernabog from the Walt Disney film Fantasia.[5] The scene in Hell where Homer is fed all the doughnuts in the world, and asks for more, is a direct parody of the Warner Brothers cartoon Pigs is Pigs, in which a generic pig character Porky Pig-esque character, known for being a glutton is taken in by a scientist and forced to eat all the food in the world.[6] At Mr. Burns' castle, Lisa notices a tome resting on a stand in the basement. She runs over and reads the title: "Yes, I Am a Vampire, by Monty Burns. Foreword by Steve Allen," a reference to American actor Steve Allen.[4] Shortly after she finds the tome, she makes allusions to Shemp and Curly Howard from the Three Stooges, mistaken Bart's fearful attempts at getting her attention as impressions of the two. In "Bart Simpson's Dracula", Bart is seen floating outside Lisa's bedroom window. This is a parody of The Lost Boys as well as Stephen King's novel Salem's Lot. The family's plan to kill the head vampire is also a reference to both the film and novel. In particular, the twist revelation that Burns is not the head vampire is also a reference to the twist ending of The Lost Boys.[6] The closing credits of the episode features a version of the Simpsons theme that is a combination of the instruments used in The Munsters theme song and the harpsichord and clicking from the Addams Family theme song.[4]

ReceptionEdit

In its original American broadcast, "Treehouse of Horror IV" finished 17th in the ratings for the week of October 25 to October 31, 1993, with a Nielsen rating of 14.5, translating to 13.6 million households. The episode was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week.[11]

Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, said the episode included many notable sequences and was "probably the best" Treehouses of Horror episode. They particularly liked the scenes in Hell where Homer is punished by the Devil, and Chief Wiggum's attempts to deal with Dracula (whom he thinks is a mummy) in the "Bart Simpson's Dracula" segment by ordering the Egyptian wing of the Springfield museum to be destroyed.[8] DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson thought "Terror at 5½ Feet" was the best segment of the episode. Jacobson praised "The Devil and Homer Simpson" as clever funny, and described "Bart Simpson's Dracula" as "easily the least effective", claiming it, "presents some good moments but never quite takes flight".[12] Patrick Bromley of DVD Verdict gave the episode an A grade and called it "one of the very best" Halloween specials, although said "Treehouse of Horror V" was better.[13] Central Michigan LifeTemplate:'s John Thorpe named it the tenth best episode of the series, and wrote: "The best part comes when Homer decides not to eat the last part of the doughnut, thus saving him from hell. Hilarious."[14] DVD Talk's Bill Gibron gave the episode a 4 out of 5 score.[15]

Kim Nowacki of Yakima Herald-Republic named "Treehouse of Horror IV" her "all-time favorite" episode. She praised the parodies of The Twilight Zone and A Charlie Brown Christmas. The episode's reference to Bram Stoker's Dracula was named the 32nd greatest film reference in the history of the show by Total Film's Nathan Ditum.[16]

CastEdit

Voice actor Character
Dan Castellaneta Homer Simpson / Grampa / Benedict Arnold / Kodos / Groundskeeper Willie / Vampires
Julie Kavner Marge Simpson
Nancy Cartwright Bart Simpson / Ralph Wiggum
Yeardley Smith Lisa Simpson
Hank Azaria Carl / Demon / Blackbeard / Chief Wiggum / Vampires
Harry Shearer Evil Laugh / Fashion Show Announcer / Lenny / Ned Flanders / Mr. Burns / Smithers / Judge / Richard Nixon / Principal Skinner / Otto / Kang / Kent Brockman / Mr. Burns / Smithers / Vampires
Phil Hartman Lionel Hutz
Pamela Hayden Lizzie Bordon / Milhouse Van Houten / Jimbo Jones
Russi Taylor Martin Prince / Uter
Frank Welker The Gremlin

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Treehouse of Horror IV. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Halloween Specials Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror

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See also: Halloween of Horror

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