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  1. #1


    Why aren't they parodying actual horror stories in Treehouse of Horror episodes anymore?

    I have been watching lots of Treehouse of Horror episodes from the later seasons recently and I must admit I found most of them boring and unimaginative with a very few exceptions.

    But one thing that called my attention is the amount of stories that parody movies or stories that have nothing to do with horror and they just add them a few deaths.
    Classic Simpsons were parodying classic horror stories, I understand that they ran out of those but there are literally hundreds of horror movies released every year, it's not like they would run out of stories to parody.

    Now I'm not saying this would make the episodes good because lots of classic stories episodes of the past seasons have been pretty weak too.
    It's just that I don't understand what they're trying to do and why they're choosing lots of stories that don't really work when you have lots of horror movies and books that are actually horror and could work as a parody.

  2. #2
    Junior Camper Treehouse of Spoopy's Avatar
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    Because they can rake in viewing figures if they parody Popular Movie X, relevance be damned. Pretty cynical, but I think that's what they're doing here.
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  3. #3
    Pin Pal Szyslak100's Avatar
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    I suppose the reasons why the really terrifying segments are now the exception are that showrunner sought to focus on recent films that achieved some popularity, and that writers who had the possibility of writing a Treehouse of Horror did not understand the essence of it (Joel Cohen, mainly).

    I hope that Stewart Burns reverses this trend in the thirtieth edition. Otherwise, I will lose hope of having a real quality Treehouse of Horror again.
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  5. #4
    Have Brain, Will Travel Wile E. the Brain's Avatar
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    It's one of my biggest issues with the most recent Treehouse of Horror episodes. They are too much focused on spoofing the last popular movie (or a movie that had a lot of popularity in his days) in an unimaginative way and sometimes with nothing to do with horror, instead of thinking about an actual, creative horror story like they used to do. Don't get me wrong, some of the best Treehouse of Horror's stories are actual parodies of popular movies (The Shinning, Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace, I Know What You Diddily-Idddily-Did), but it's because they used to spoof them on a spooky yet hilarious and imaginative way, something that a lot of recent segments have trouble to do. And they still managed to create their own spooky and original stories. I can't remember when was the last time they written an original story before Mmm... Homer (except the awful Wanted Dead Then Alive).
    Last edited by Wile E. the Brain; 05-24-2019 at 03:02 PM.

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  7. #5
    don't quite cover all CousinMerl's Avatar
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    This is something that, while not bothering me hugely, is certainly one of the bigger issues with many post-classic Treehouse Of Horror efforts and it is an annoyance for sure.

    It comes off a lazy and half-assed; there are tons of possibilites both with original stories (that there's been quite a few good ones of along with those less than good) and actual parodies of horror stories, maybe some they haven't done yet (one from the top of my head is Gremlins which hasn't been touched yet) but instead they keep doing these non-horror tales, often a parody of some some movie or other media that is obviously not horror or anything spooky, and they usually turn out less than impressive and it's often never anything too clever or creative; it's usually a straight parody with no real creep or spooky factor surprises and it's tends to be kinda dull and uninteresting.

    I wouldn't say that it's just about a lack of imagination rather than laziness and thoughtlessness and not thinking the audiences would care if the stories are horror-related or not; sometimes they do really good and put out some quality horror stories so it's not like they lost all that writing ability so they just have to focus more on the horror-themed and less on unrelated and unfitting Treehouse plots, which they have done more of as of recently despite the odd non-horror story here and there (for instance, season 29 had a good Treehouse episode three fairly memorable and nice horror stories; I wish they could repeat that effort more often).
    Last edited by CousinMerl; 05-26-2019 at 10:55 PM.

  8. #6
    Newbie duff brewery's Avatar
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    I really wish they would parody the hills have eyes.

  9. #7
    Getting carried away on you Venomrabbit's Avatar
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    Guess it's partly because "hey it's noncanon let's just do whatever the hell we want!" outside of adding extra trilogies there's not as much wiggle room outside of that. I think, though, there's been some instances of it not being based on anything horror but still turning out pretty well (can't remember the title but the fairy tales segment comes to mind) and there's things that could work, at the very least in theory, so long as the concept itself can be pretty easily made into something horror like Billy and the Cloneasaurus Jurassic Park... not saying the one they did on that was actually great but being stuck in a shutdown zoo being overrun by monstrous predators shouldn't be that hard to adapt.

    Guess the other part is they don't have many ideas to go with, sorta. Like a lot of things on the show there's actually plenty of possible ideas, in this case, plenty of ground untrodden (like, off the top of my head, "The Thing" with the SNPP crew) and given a bit of time, it probably would be possible to come up with a fair few things that aren't overdone nor blatantly not horror or even adapted that way it's just... I guess they don't feel like doing that.


  10. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Wile E. the Brain View Post
    It's one of my biggest issues with the most recent Treehouse of Horror episodes. They are too much focused on spoofing the last popular movie (or a movie that had a lot of popularity in his days) in an unimaginative way and sometimes with nothing to do with horror, instead of thinking about an actual, creative horror story like they used to do. Don't get me wrong, some of the best Treehouse of Horror's stories are actual parodies of popular movies (The Shinning, Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace, I Know What You Diddily-Idddily-Did), but it's because they used to spoof them on a spooky yet hilarious and imaginative way, something that a lot of recent segments have trouble to do. And they still managed to create their own spooky and original stories. I can't remember when was the last time they written an original story before Mmm... Homer (except the awful Wanted Dead Then Alive).
    Yeah, although those three segments you mentioned were based on actual horror movies.
    Now they just take the most recent popular movie and make a parady out of it despite not having anything to do with horror.

    It's hard for me to understand given the amount of horror movies released everyday and that there have been lots of succesful ones or at least well known by the general public.

    Now as I said, I don't think this would make them good automatically because the quality has been very low in episodes based on actual horror stories too.
    But at least it would maintain the essence of the Treehouse of Horror segment.

    But sadly I think they're more interested in parodying anything that has been trendy the past few years.

    And this is what most bothers me and saddens me about modern Simpsons, they worship pop culture when they used to actively mock it.
    And this I find much worse than not being funny anymore. Because I can understand that it was imposible for any show to maintain such high levels of excelence but to embrace the thing you used to make fun of and change completely the message and the morals of the show is pretty sad.

  11. #9
    Junior Camper Captain Wacky's Avatar
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    While the deviation of the THOHs from horror burlesques to limp, poorly-constructed remakes of briefly popular blockbusters does kind of indicate both an abuse of the creative freedom associated with their non-canonicity (presumably because the show itself has become so inconsistent regarding the laws of its own canon universe (just watch 'Lisa's Substitute' back-to-back with Sideshow Bob mutating himself with animal DNA like a comic book villain before attempting to zanily commit suicide to end the respective episode and you may understand what I mean) that the 'uniqueness' the THOHs held to the crew during the classic era has reduced somewhat) and the evolution of THOHs from an annual spectacle into a yearly stunt which the crew can use to piggyback onto recent cultural trends merely to garner brief media attention and project an illusion of continued cultural relevance), part of me also suspects that the general format of the Jean era (or Jean's storytelling style as a whole in recent years) simply doesn't support effective execution of stories akin to the horror pastiches of old - Jean, particularly HD-era Jean - Simpsons has a tendency to 'structure' episodes as more a sequence of gags and setpieces/setups loosely interconnected around a simple event or timeframe (almost like the plot is intended to be a 'non-plot' or pretense around which comedic elements can be inserted - think an unfortunate mutation of the story structure of the Critic, which the Jean era as a whole (particularly during S13) is actually more reminiscent of than S3-4 of its own show), otherwise leading to a scattershot and incoherent viewing experience where random elements are just loosely plugged into the runtime as opposed to being woven dynamically into the script as a whole, leading to a lack (for the most part) of flow or tension. Classic THOHs, by comparison, are almost an anthesis to this in that the use of smaller details and rising tension ("Hungry are the Damned", "The Shinning", "Terror at 5 1/2 Feet") in a dually compelling and tongue-in-cheek manner is what enabled them to satirize the horror genre so effectively. Compare this to the early Jean-era THOHs' attempts at horror parody and one does have to wonder if Jean and co. simply moved away from them because random blockbuster references were easier/more economic to write under the current structure of the show's writing process - but that's still a majorly generous estimate, with the most likely explanation simply being a lack of discipline/care on the part of the writing staff (to the point where "Brick Like Me" and "The Serfsons", essentially full-length episodes, effectively feel like extended HD-era THOH segments (despite BLM being slightly less bland than average by those standards)).

  12. #10
    Junior Camper Rutherford's Avatar
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    There are still a lot of movies they haven't parodied yet, e.g. Rosemary's Baby, The Omen, The Thing, American Psycho and more. They're just getting a bit lazy.

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  14. #11
    Have Brain, Will Travel Wile E. the Brain's Avatar
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    I don't think the problem is only the movies they have parodied or not (yet). I think the problem is how they use these movies, in order to make random, dull and uninspired parodies. They can do great things with the movies they spoof, if they really want to. Even if they aren't that much related with horror stories (like @Venomrabbit pointed out, a Jurassic Park parody could have worked and could have been spooky if they really tried). But with some of the recent Treehouse of Horror episodes, it's like they only have a concept, and they clumsily embroider a story around this, running out of ideas, just by keeping in mind that they can do whatever they want because it's noncanon. And the problem is, the "whatever they want" part isn't very inspired recently. Therefore, it's a shame that the TOH have been reduced to boring parodies while it was the opportunity to make a unique, spooky and creative episode once a year.


  15. #12
    don't quite cover all CousinMerl's Avatar
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    Definitely agreed that a lot of the spoof plots, usually those that are less horror-related but could still be pulled off well (as it's really not inherently the biggest problem, true), are really thin and they don't end up doing anything really interesting with the plots and just ends up blowing it all with some uninspired parody they seemingly just throw together with not too much effort or a try to play up the scarier and creepier aspects (as they have been shown to do on occasion, as said).

    That Jurassic Park/World parody from last year's Treehouse was really tame and lame and could very well have worked much better if they had played up the darkness (maybe a little more inspiration from the original JP and maybe especially The Lost World than mostly Jurassic World, which was a generally less dark and threatening story, could've been a push in the right direction), but then they ended up with this bland and toothless (pun maybe intended) spoof that ends with Lisa solving the crisis with talking to the rampaging dinosaurs (I still stand by that they should've gone with her getting eaten mid-speech which would've made it more interesting and a little subversive).

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  17. #13
    Getting carried away on you Venomrabbit's Avatar
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    I think that was one of the strengths of Scary Tales Can Come True. True the source material doesn't skirt so close to horror like JP does but there's plenty of fridge horror, things that become a lot more worrying the more you think on it, and played on that. Which is probably the best way to do a non-horror parody in a THOH, just use something that's more subtly horrifying and latch onto it, instead of just "parody of (x) but a bunch of people die"

  18. #14
    don't quite cover all CousinMerl's Avatar
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    'Scary Tales Can Come True' is indeed a good example of that done right.

    Judging only by the premise one could think it's gonna be a fairly bland and tame story as it's based on old fairy tales (that could be rather dark and scary) but it's handled to good effect with lots of spooy and creepy moments of both the more standard type as well as the fridge horror stuff (Bart and Lisa being replacment children is one and that Goldilocks bit really plays up the horror aspect to good results with some nice dark humor in one of the more unsettling Treehouse moments; maybe the only one that I was taken aback a little by on the very first viewing).

    With some effort a simple premise that you wouldn't expect to get much out of can turn into something really good and in cases even great, but it's a shame that doesn't happen more often in the post-classic era. It's like a fifty-fifty chance.
    Last edited by CousinMerl; 05-28-2019 at 06:41 AM.

  19. #15
    Have Brain, Will Travel Wile E. the Brain's Avatar
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    Despite not really being close to horror in the basis of its concept, I always thought Scary Tales Can Come True was pretty frightening; they knew how to make this segment rather unsettling (in a good way) with its atmosphere and its good exploitation of dark humor (Bart and Lisa unintentionally locking Goldilocks in the bears' house and how she ends up, or Marge pushing Homer to find the kids because he abandoned them instead of selling them). I enjoy how this segment is in accordance with the spooky vibes of a Treehouse of Horror against expectations (though some fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel aren't, I think, that hard to write on a dark way; besides, we should remember that some fairy tales were actually really dark and unsettling in their first versions, so come to think of it, it's not that surprising they managed to make a good and frightening segment around that).

  20. #16
    don't quite cover all CousinMerl's Avatar
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    It's indeed not surprising they managed created the story they did out of these old tales (granted, a lot of them could get really dark), but it's a little surprising they didn't end up with something lesser here (with how the general writing changed with season 9 and 10), though admittedly this was not that far into the post-classic era and they still churned out some good spooky horror material even into the early Jean era, even parodies (one that comes to mind is 'The Island of Dr. Hibbert' which I found to be one of those spoofs that came out better than it could have).

  21. #17
    Getting carried away on you Venomrabbit's Avatar
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    I think playing on the fridge horror is in itself a parody, which means it works in two ways. Actually, might be fun to think of other non-horror things that actually could make a good THOH segment, there's probably quite a few, just very rarely used by the show.

  22. #18
    Hercules Rockefeller Homer Samson's Avatar
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    There are rumours that THOH XXX will have a Fortnite parody. Everyone go get the show cancelled before it is too late.

  23. #19
    Release the Hounds Shoskin's Avatar
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    "The kick is up...it's looking good...The ball is turning into a fat bald guy! (Homer is shown on the TV, flying into the goal post) And it's no good, and you know what we say every time something strange happens, it's good that Bart did that, it's very good!" One of my favorites THOH segments. Great parody of both the Twilight Zone and the Rod Sterling impersonator. I just think these writers at times have no imagination.

    Though I like "It's the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse," when Milhouse likes Lisa witch costume and she goes on a tirade about being a wiccan it's about empowering women. It was pointless and stupid. Take the complement a stfu.

    Last the new episodes got gross and disturbing. If I want to see a show with someone barfing, I will watch Family Guy, not Maggie. The worst: Homer eating himself.
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  24. #20
    paranormal investigator friz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homer Samson View Post
    There are rumours that THOH XXX will have a Fortnite parody. Everyone go get the show cancelled before it is too late.
    No there isnt.
    Quote Originally Posted by simpsonsbart View Post
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  25. #21
    Your Neighborhood Average Joe Purpleberries's Avatar
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    These days, the THOH episode is usually used as an excuse for the writers to make a bunch of parodies of "recent" movies. The problem is that most of these parodies end up lacking any real substance and boil down to "ha ha get it because we parodied so-and-so scene aren't we so clever".

  26. #22
    Hercules Rockefeller Homer Samson's Avatar
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    I said rumors, it isn't official

  27. #23
    Pin Pal TheDuffBlimp's Avatar
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    Because they don't need to.
    You can create your own horror story without pulling from literal horror stories.

  28. #24
    Stonecutter ComicBookGal's Avatar
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    they could have parodied the purge, that's a horror/suspense film
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  29. #25
    Pin Pal TheDuffBlimp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treehouse of Spoopy View Post
    Because they can rake in viewing figures if they parody Popular Movie X
    No. They can't.
    The viewers they get now are either actual Simpsons fans, casuals, or old fans giving it another chance.
    Nobody gets hyped just because they use some random movie; it certainly does not bloat the ratings.



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