Treehouse of Horror III

"Treehouse of Horror III"
The Simpsons episode
Bart ClockworkOrange.jpg
The children of Springfield dressed in their Halloween costumes.
Episode no. 64
Prod. code 9F04
Orig. airdate October 29, 1992[1]
Show runner(s) Al Jean & Mike Reiss
Written by Al Jean & Mike Reiss (Part 1)
Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky (Part 2)
Sam Simon & Jon Vitti (Part 3)
Directed by Carlos Baeza
Couch gag The family's skeletons run in and sit on the couch.[2]
Matt Groening
Al Jean
Jay Kogen
Wallace Wolodarsky
Jon Vitti

"Treehouse of Horror III" is the fifth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 29, 1992.[1] In the third annual Treehouse of Horror episode, Homer buys Bart an evil talking Krusty doll, King Homer is captured by Mr. Burns, and Bart and Lisa inadvertently cause Zombies to attack Springfield. The episode was written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky, Sam Simon, and Jon Vitti, and directed by Carlos Baeza.[2]



The Simpsons are having a Halloween party for the children of Springfield. Lisa, Grandpa and Bart each tell a horror story. The Halloween costumes include Homer as Julius Caesar, Marge as Cleopatra, Bart as Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange, Lisa as the Statue of Liberty, Milhouse as Radioactive Man, Martin as Calliope, Nelson as a pirate, Janey as a fairy, Wendell as an astronaut, Lewis as Frankenstein's monster, Richard as a vampire and Ned Flanders as a headless zombie.[1][2]

Clown Without Pity

Homer realizes that he forgot to buy Bart a present for his birthday. He rushes to the House of Evil, where he purchases a talking Krusty the Clown doll. The shopkeeper warns him that the doll is cursed, but Homer dismisses his concerns. He returns to the party and gives Bart the doll. Grandpa exclaims that the doll is evil, but admits that he is just doing it to get attention.

Later, Homer is playing with the doll when it starts saying that it is going to kill him. He dismisses this until the doll produces a large knife. After numerous attempts on Homer’s life, he captures the evil Krusty doll, locks it in a suitcase, and drops it in a "Bottomless Pit". Returning home, Homer goes into the living room but is ambushed by the escaped doll. Marge finally sees the doll choking Homer (none of the family believed Homer before) and calls the "KrustyCo" toy company for help. A repairman arrives and discovers that the doll has been accidentally set to "Evil" mode. He flips the switch back to "Good" and the Krusty doll becomes friends with Homer.

Later, it is shown that Homer has been using the doll as a slave for the remainder of the day. The Krusty doll returns to his girlfriend (a Malibu Stacy doll) in Lisa's dollhouse. The scene ends happily as Krusty gives Stacy a kiss on the cheek and her head falls off.[1][2]

King Homer

King Homer, having just escaped from the Broadway theatre.

Marge joins Mr. Burns and Smithers on an expedition to Ape Island to find the legendary King Homer. After landing on the island, Mr. Burns, Smithers, and Marge stealthily approach a native tribe, but are spotted due to Marge’s hair protruding over the bushes. The villagers agree that "The blue haired woman would make a good sacrifice" and tie her to a post as an offering. The sound of drums summons King Homer (who was busy fighting a giant dinosaur similar to a T-Rex, which bites him after he is distracted by the sound of the gong, resulting in a resounding "D'OH!" that echoes across the island). Marge is initially terrified but sees the friendly side of Homer when he is attracted to Marge's perfume and the two form a friendship. Nonetheless, Mr. Burns is determined to capture King Homer and Smithers knocks Homer unconscious with a gas bomb. Returning to New York, the group display King Homer at the Broadway theatre. The photographers' flashes enrage King Homer, who breaks free from his restraints, squashes the reporter, eats Barney's peanuts, breaks through into the wall into a nearby theatre and eats Shirley Temple. He abducts Marge then attempts to climb the Empire State Building, but is unable to get past the second story of the building. King Homer collapses in exhaustion and Marge helpfully suggests that he eat more vegetables and fewer people. In the end, King Homer and Marge get married. The story ends with the wedding, and King Homer eating Marge's father (although Marge is not upset).[1][2]

Dial 'Z' For Zombies

While in the Springfield Elementary library searching for material for a book report, Bart finds a book of black magic in the library’s “Occult section” and gets attached to it. That night, when Lisa reminisces about the family’s dead cat, Snowball I, Bart suggests that he could use the book he found to resurrect Snowball to make Lisa happy again. At the Springfield pet cemetery with Lisa as his witness, Bart utters an incantation from the book but accidentally reanimates corpses from the nearby human cemetery instead, much to both Bart and Lisa's shock. The zombies terrorize Springfield, turning several people, including Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Krusty the Clown, Sideshow Mel, Edna Krabappel, and the bullies into zombies. Meanwhile, the Simpson family has barricaded all the doors and windows except for the back door, which Homer forgot to do because he was watching TV. Several zombies break into the house: Homer sacrifices himself to give the others time to escape, but the zombies leave him when they realise he does not have enough brain for them to eat. Lisa realizes that the school library must have a book that can reverse the spell. The family runs to the car under the protection of Homer’s shotgun. Flanders comes over and asks if he can chew Homer’s ear. Homer responds by blasting Flanders with his shotgun. The family voice their shock that he killed the zombie Flanders. Homer then utters the now famous line, “He was a zombie?”

The Simpsons arrive at Springfield Elementary and burst through the doors, Homer leading with his shotgun. Numerous zombies try to attack the family, including those of George Washington, Albert Einstein, and William Shakespeare. Homer shoots them all and the family reaches the occult section. Bart searches desperately through books while zombies pound on the doors. After accidentally turning Lisa into a snail with another wrong spell, Bart casts the appropriate counter spell, causing all zombies return to their graves and (of course) putting Lisa back to her human form. The morning after the disaster, Mayor Quimby gives a speech to the town parodying inspirational speeches at the end of disaster movies. At home, Marge remarks that it is a relief she and the family were not turned into mindless zombies. However, in a twist ending, The Simpsons begin speaking in a zombie-like monotone while watching a man fall down on TV.[1][2]


This episode originally encountered trouble when the color version came back from Korea. With only six weeks to the airdate the writers made almost 100 line changes, a very rare occurrence. It was decided to completely overhaul the episode after a poorly-received screening with the writing staff.[3] The tombstones that appeared at the start of and during the episode were abandoned in later episodes because it was becoming increasingly difficult to think of ideas.[3] A subtle tombstone joke in this episode is in the scene where two zombies are crawling out of their graves. The names Jay Kogen and Wolodarsky (two of The Simpsons writers who worked on the episode) are written on the tombstones, but both are misspelled.[4] The "King Homer" segment is one of Matt Groening's all-time favorite stories from the Treehouse of Horror series.[5] Al Jean was also quite worried about this segment because it was the longest running black-and-white segment they had ever aired, and he thought that some people might be concerned that their televisions were broken.[3] The "He was a zombie?" line, created by Mike Reiss, is, in the opinions of the writers, one of the all-time classic lines from the series.[2][6]

Cultural references

Homer standing in Alfred Hitchcock's famous silhouette.

The opening sequence where Homer walks into Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette (pictured) is a parody of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It was meant to show Homer's stomach bigger than that of the outline, but it was so subtle that not many people realised the joke.[3] In the episode's wraparounds, Bart is dressed as Alex from the film A Clockwork Orange.[7] The "Clown Without Pity" segment is based on the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll" and the film Trilogy of Terror as well as the Child's Play movies. The title itself is a play on the song "Town Without Pity" by Gene Pitney.[3] The man that gives Homer the Krusty doll is based on Mr. Wing from the film Gremlins.[3] The Krusty doll riding under Homer's car is a reference to the 1991 remake of Cape Fear.[3] The "King Homer" segment is a parody of the 1933 film King Kong.[2] In "King Homer", the tribal leader is heard saying "Mosi Tatupu, Mosi Tatupu", which means they will sacrifice the blue-haired lady.[5] The title "Dial Z for Zombies" is a play on the title of the 1954 Hitchcock film Dial M for Murder. Some aspects of "Dial Z for Zombies" are from the film Night of the Living Dead.[8]

When raising the dead from their graves, Bart wears Michael Jackson's record album cover Thriller on his head. This is both a reference to Jackson's famous music video, in which he dances with zombies, and the baby boomer tradition of wearing a vinyl record cover on one's head.[5] When the family makes the decision to go to the school, Homer, after cocking a shotgun and pointing it at the camera, exclaims, "To the book depository!" This is a reference to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was from a window of the Texas book depository that Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed the President.[4]


In its original broadcast, "Treehouse of Horror III" finished 20th in ratings for the week of October 5-11, 1992, with a Nielsen rating of 14.7, equivalent to approximately 13.7 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, beating In Living Color.[9] Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, thoroughly enjoyed the episode. They described the episode as "Another seasonal treat. Dial Z for Zombies is particularly impressive ('Dad, you killed the zombie Flanders!' 'He was a zombie?')."[2] In 2006, IGN voted "Dial Z For Zombies" as the second best segment of the Treehouse of Horror episodes.[10] "Clown without Pity" was also rated sixth.[10]

In the film 28 Days Later, there is a scene where Sgt. Ferrell mentions that his favorite joke from The Simpsons was the line "Women and seamen (semen) don't mix", said by Smithers during the "King Homer" segment.[3] The episode's reference to Night Of The Living Dead was named the 16th greatest film reference in the history of the show by Total Film's Nathan Ditum.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Treehouse of Horror III". The Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Treehouse of Horror III". BBC. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror III" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  4. ^ a b Wolodarsky, Wallace (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror III" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  5. ^ a b c Groening, Matt (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror III" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  6. ^ Groening, Matt; Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror III" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  7. ^ a b Ditum, Nathan (June 6, 2009). "The 50 Greatest Simpsons Movie References". Total Film. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  8. ^ Jean, Al; Wolodarsky, Wallace (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror III" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  9. ^ Associated Press (November 5, 1992). "'Roseanne,' 'Pretty Woman' put ABC on top; NBC, CBS tie". The Orlando Sentinel: p. E6. 
  10. ^ a b Goldman, Eric; Iverson, Dan; Zoromski, Brian (2006-10-30). "Top 10 Segments from The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror". IGN. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 

External links

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