Archive for the ‘Halloween’ Category

Posted Sunday, October 31st, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2017) 23

Issue 23 not only marks the end of October, but the end of the annual Halloween specials from Fox’s first family.

The beginning of the end borrows from the King of horror with IT Happens! Homer, Marge, Carl, Lenny and Barney find a television favorite is haunting their waking dreams. They finally defeat their demon only to have him return in adulthood.

If this sounds familiar, IT should.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2017) 23

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2017) 23

Stephan King’s IT began as a novel released in 1986. The 1,200-page tome is King’s 22nd, and based on an idea planted in 1978. He wouldn’t put pen to paper until 1981.

IT became a two-part television mini-series in 1990 airing in November for sweeps month. ABC gambled $12 million on the project and earned huge returns. IT became the network’s biggest success of the year with 30-million viewers tuning in for the Losers’ Club’s exploits.

The novel was adapted for the big screen and released in 2017 and 2018 to mixed reviews.

Next up is Marge’s story in A Fungus Among Us. It’s up to the Simpson matriarch to save the family from an invasion from space.

Bringing the book to a close is Curse of the Cat Lady.

Comic Book Guy finds himself inheriting the traits of our four-legged friend due to a gypsy curse placed on him for his carelessness.

This story bears a passing resemblance to Sam and Ivan Rami’s 2009 horror thriller Drag Me to Hell. The film passed through theaters opening at number four. It also received the Best Horror Film nod at the 2009 Scream Awards and 2010 Saturn Awards. At the box office it earned a respectable $90 million.

With the final issue of the printed version of Treehouse of Horror in hand, it’s only appropriate to talk about the source material.

The televised Treehouse of Horror tradition began Oct. 25, 1990, during The Simpsons’ second season.

Since then, the airings have become anticipated events. Each episode is usually made up a three, separate parodies. The openings are unique in themselves, almost making up a fourth segment.

The only interruptions to the episodes were due to Fox Network’s coverage of the World Series. At least two of the episodes aired in November.

No matter when the episode airs, it is among the top-rated shows of the season. In addition to the fan support, several episodes have been honored with awards.

So, with our final scare released, find some left-over trick-or-treat candy and settle in with one of the 23 issues mentioned this month or find a classic Treehouse of Horrors to pop in and remember.

Happy Halloween.

Posted Saturday, October 30th, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2016) 22

Treating readers for the cover-dated Sept. 21, 2016, issue 22 The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror would be a trilogy of terrible titters beginning with the Ghost Bashers.

Homer and gang don the proton packs as they answer the call, skewering the supernatural comedy.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2016) 22

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2016) 22

Ghostbusters became the blockbuster of 1984 courtesy of Ivan Reitman and Dan Akroyd. Co-starring with co-creator Akroyd were Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.

The film brought in $282.2 million during its initial release on a $25 to $30 million investment. In 2015, the movie was inducted into the National Film Registry.

Following its release and unexpected success, a plethora of merchandising followed as did a sequel, daily animated series and remake – of sorts.

Second up is the Ex-Files starring Lisa and Nelson. Though no longer a couple, the two team to expose some supernatural shenanigans at Springfield Elementary.

It may have taken some time, but the Simpsons’ crew finally got around to poking some fun at Chris Carter’s no nonsense sci-fi drama. The X-Files aired from 1993 to 2002 on the network the Simpsons’ helped build, airing 202 episodes.

Carter, an unapologetic fan of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, was initially denied, but persevered until a pilot was approved. It was viewed by 12 million people. By season’s end, the show had 14 million turning the dial to the show.

As the millennium began to close, The X-Files, or The X-Files: Fight the Future, debuted in theaters. A second feature film was later released, The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

The X-Files would return to the small screen for two seasons in 2015. The series continued for two seasons before calling it quits.

Finishing off the book is Retirement Castle of the Vampires!

Grandpa and his geriatric gang finally have a vehicle all their own. It may be a Model A, but there’s no rust on the bunch as they dust off the dentures and take a bite out of the jugular.

Posted Friday, October 29th, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2015) 21

Like the Sears Wish Book of old would herald each year’s Christmas season, so did The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror. Both came in September, each promising the respective holiday would soon be there.

Opening with Graveyard Shift, Apu finds himself in director Joe Dante’s world of Gremlins. Too bad he didn’t heed the warning: No Squishees after midnight.

The 1984 horror comedy was a critical and commercial success. Gremlins raked in $12.5 million in its first weekend, second only to the original Ghostbusters. By November 29 of the same year, Gremlins had earned $148,168,459 in the United States alone.

All on an $11 million investment.

It spawned a sequel in 1990 with Gremlins 2: The New Batch. It was not as well received as its inspiration, but does have its fans.

The Left Behinders is a cleverly penned story title giving readers a clue as to Ned Flanders nightmare. Homer’s nosy neighbor believes he has been ignored at the Rapture. He later finds he’s not the only one to share a common trait among those remaining.

Ian Boothby and James Lloyd’s tragic narrative may be based on Stephen King’s The Langoliers, a novella collected in the 1990 compilation Four Past Midnight.

Finally, Springfieldopolis spoofs Fritz Lang’s expressionist science-fiction drama made in 1927. Marge is the symbol of the downtrodden mirrored against Mr. Burns’ greed.

Metropolis is often cited as one of the most influential films ever made. It took 17 months to make and cost $5 million Reichsmarks, one of the most expensive movies made to that point. It was originally budgeted at $1.5 million Reichsmarks.

When finished, Metropolis was an exhausting 153 minutes. It would later be edited to 128 minutes and, finally, 91 minutes by its American debut.

Initially, the movie met with mixed reviews. It would take hindsight and patience to appreciate the film.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2015) 21

Posted Thursday, October 28th, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2014) 20

Lining up for the 20th issue of The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror are the shambling mob of dead returning for nibble on the brain – or maybe another succulent body part.

Headlining is Zombienado followed by The Walking Ned, Dusk of No-Brainers and Power Plants vs. Zombies.

Zombienado is, of course, a Matt Groening cover of 2013 low-budget Syfy disaster Sharknado.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2014) 20

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2014) 20

The Asylum’s made-for-cable-television movie became an instant cult classic thanks to semi-celebrities and social media. The film premiered with a viewing audience of 1.37 million, actually a bit low for a Syfy original. A tornado of tweets led Syfy to repeat the film a week later. This time it was watched by 1.89 million viewers. It aired a third time garnering 2.1 million viewers, a record for the most-watched, original film encore on Syfy.

The success of Sharknado spawned six sequels.

Walking Ned is a parody of cable’s uber popular zombie series, The Walking Dead.

Robert Kirkman never envisioned the merchandising empire he would unleash when the first issue of The Walking Dead premiered in comic book shops in 2003. Neither did publisher Image Comics who only printed 7,200 copies.

Interest was immediate and by the 14th issue, orders were hitting 15,000 and still climbing.

In 2010, AMC viewers woke with sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes to discover the world had turned upside down. For 11 seasons fans have fought zombies, profiters and anyone who threatened life and limb to survive in the post-apocalyptic world.

Dawn of the Dead is played for laughs in Dusk of No-Brainers as the residents of Springfield scramble to the mall for safe haven.

Neither of the Dawn of the Dead films were played for laughs. George A. Romero’s second entry was a social commentary. He would go on to create six zombie horror films.

The 2004 remake was as fierce as the first allowing for a more jaded public and upgraded make up and practical effects. Rather than making a social comment, director Zack Snyder and writer James Gunn aimed for a body count.

Homer’s carelessness brings about the end of Springfield in Power Plants vs. Zombies, a play on Plants vs. Zombies.

Plants vs. Zombies is the PopCap Games May 5, 2009 release for Windows and OS X. It has since been ported to consoles, handhelds and mobile devices.

Within a year, Plants vs. Zombies had sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide. It’s first nine days available as an app, the game garnered over $1 million.

Zombies themselves have been a cash cow for pretty much every medium available. They began as a Haitian Creole legend and have blossomed into an entertainment industry all their own.

Posted Wednesday, October 27th, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horrors (2013) 19

Halloween ’13 and the 19th issue of The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horrors.

Spoiler alert, as if the cover wouldn’t give it away, this is an all-alien issue with a little love(craft) to cap the book off.

Monster Mash-Up is ploy by Kang and Kodos Johnson to subvert humans to their will. Homer foils their plans when confronted with a choice between food and love.

Ian Boothby and Tone Rodriguez twist a tale common enough for so many in Alienated!

Finally, comic-book legend Len Wein resurrects an old evil nearing its centennial birthday with Cthulhu. Like the first two stories, it is revealed to be a farce with an O’Henry ending.

Cthulhu was the fictional, cosmic child of H.P. Lovecraft. The Call of Cthulhu was first published in Weird Tales in 1928.

The story became a pied piper for fantasy enthusiasts. It has become the subject of many multi-media projects. Cthulhu made a short appearance at the beginning of The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror XXIX.

In the episode, television’s first dysfunctional animated family go to Fogburyport to visit the birthplace of Green Clam Chowder. They soon learn the destination is a trap designed to bring fresh food to Cthulhu.

The Treehouse of Horror episodes began Oct. 25, 1990. Comprised of three vignettes, the shows became perennial favorites among viewers and critics. Treehouse of Horror VI, Treehouse of Horror XXIII and Treehouse of Horror XXV were each nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour).

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horrors (2013) 19

Posted Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2012) 18

If Sam Rami’s original Evil Dead is a low-rent version of Hollywood horror, then Shane Houghton’s Evil Beery is just low rent.

Evil Beery is the first of four tales designed to terrify for 2012. Shane Houghton is the mastermind; Chris Houghton is the visionary and Josh Ulrich the color man.

The story offers a chilling origin of Duff’s Beer. In addition to the Evil Dead, the Houghton’s bring a blend of Cabin in the Woods to the table.

Margemary’s Baby is a two-tone treatment of Rosemary’s Baby.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2012) 18

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2012) 18

Based on Ira Levin’s disturbing 1967 horror novel, now disgraced director Roman Polanski told the tale to an eager viewing public a year later.

The current classic had praise heaped upon it from opening day. Ruth Gordon earned an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

It spawned a mini-series in 2014.

One Bart and Stormy Night is the titular character’s nightmare come true. A super-hero/monster motif has the whole family unwittingly participating.

Jim Valentino’s The Bride is a warmed-over recollection of storytellers who all have a different view of the movie of the same name.

The book caps off another Halloween staple with Bongo Bonus Stamp number 211 featuring Hugo.

For those who remember the Marvel Value Stamps, this nod to their marketing campaign that saddened many of today’s collectors is just fun. Warning: don’t cut it out.

More why in December.

Posted Monday, October 25th, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2011) 17

A loving homage to the Universal staples of the golden age of horror on the cover open the perennial four-color Treehouse of Horrors.

Zander Cannon and Gene Ha craft Nosferatu a Simpsony of Horror to begin the begin.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2011) 17

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2011) 17

The 1922 German vampire tale is retold as a choppy, organ-orchestrated story driven by dialog cards and expressionist art. Like many parodies, it does a tightrope walk between its inspiration and its destination.

Bart is coerced to sell his treehouse to help the family financially. He learns the truth under the hospitality of Mr. Burns, aka Nosferatu, but it’s his mother who saves the day in the final panels.

Nosferatu was a thinly disguised Dracula retelling that was eventually found out and the lineage of Braham Stoker reimbursed. All copies of Nosferatu were ordered to be destroyed, but at least one print survived. It became a blueprint for horror films to come.

Marge of the Dead takes a stab at the zombie craze. Jane Wiedlin and Tom Hodges pen and pencil the story with colors from Mark Hamill’s real life padawan, Nathan.

The Simpson family participate in a seemingly harmless cosplay event only to stumble onto the city-wide outbreak of zombies. Lisa’s big-brained overthinking brings the story to a happy close.

Finally, EC Comics receives a love letter as Bart delves into issue three of Harvest of Fear.

Both story and comic book title, Harvest of Fear is an admitted knock off of Bill Gaines’ comics from the 1950s.

Originally called Educational Comics, EC became Entertaining Comics after the death of founder Max Gaines. Son, William, reluctantly took the wheel and steered the floundering company out of debt with an unrivaled team of writers and artists.

Together the cadre crafted a series of comic books with horror, crime and science fiction themes that are lauded even today. Their success was not to go unnoticed and EC Comics became part of a larger investigation into the field of comic books. In the end, the witch hunt neutered the industry, leaving EC’s stable of titles as dead as so many of their stories heroes.

The one positive that did rise from the government raid was Mad Magazine. William Gaines had already begun publishing of the title, but moved it to a magazine format to keep it safe from the newly minted Comics Code Authority.

Posted Sunday, October 24th, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2010) 16

Another Halloween, another Treehouse of Horror.

The 2010 team included, Evan Dorkin, Peter Kuper, Kelley Jones, Kelvin Mao, Tom Peyer, and Tone Rodriguez. Special assist from Lemmy Kilmister and Motorhead.

The cover paid homage to the cult classic Mars Attacks! trading cards and film.

Mars Attacks, the 1996 movie, was based on the 1962 Topps cards featuring artwork by Wally Wood and Norman Saunders. Topps product developer Len Brown took inspiration for the commission from Wood’s cover to EC Comic’s Weird Science issue 16.

The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror (2010) 16

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2010) 16

Brown and Woody Gelman put their heads together and came up with the idea for the story complete with rough sketches. Wood was invited onboard as was Bob Powell to create the artwork for the cards. Saunders painted the finished copies.

Topps tested the public waters and marketed the five-cent-a-pack cards under Bubbles, Inc, called Attack from Space. After the initial success, Topps rebranded the cards as Mars Attacks using their corporate name and logo.

The expanded release of the cards brought them to parents’ attention. They were less thrilled than their children who relished the gore and violence. A legal inquiry brought a halt to production.

Not until 1984 were the cards reprinted, with permission, by Renata Galasso Inc. Topps re-released them under the company name in 1994 as Mars Attacks Archives.

A year later, eight Mars Attacks models were marketed by Screamin’ Productions and Topps.

In 1996, Tim Burton directed an all-star cast in a big-screen version. Featured were Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Benning, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Pam Grier, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown and Lisa Marie Smith.

The film met with box-office disaster and mixed reviews from critics.

Now, for the comic book at hand:

For the reader’s pleasure, Dorkin penned and penciled the opening salvo, I Screwed Up Big-Time and Unleashed the Glavin on an Unsuspecting World.

Science goes wild and so does its result. Springfield is crushed, saved and endangered again in under 15 pages.

Kuper takes some liberties with Edgar Alan Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart in Tell-Tale Bart. Ned Flanders takes centerstage as he plots to do away with Homer once and for all. Mao and Jones are the artists on this tale of terror and taunting.

Homer Goes to Hell! showcases a shrewdness rarely associated with the title character. It proves the fine print should be read on any contract and brings the book to a close with Kilmister’s story.

Four Marge Attacks! cards are to tossed in as a bonus.

Posted Saturday, October 23rd, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2009) 15

Cloud 13 is a one-page treatment of the show’s opening with a macabre twist.

The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror (2009) 15

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2009) 15

Mr. Burns and Smithers are servants of Vegulu. Their mission is to destroy the Earth for their master in The Call of Vegulu.

Jordon Crane handles the one-page Blurst Again!

The Bride of Frankenstein was a late blooming sequel, coming four years after Frankenstein. Hailed as Director James Whale’s masterpiece, Mo’ Buddies Moe Problems falls far from its source material.

Seeking companionship, Moe Szyslak builds his own bride to be. The end results are more Catch-22 than Mary Shelly.

Boredom leads to Homer’s odyssey in The Gods Must be Lazy.

Chief Wiggum and Ralphie star in their version of C.H.U.D., C.H.U.M.

Rather than worry about cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers, Wiggum has Ned Flander’s missing boys to contend with.

Springfield is slowly replaced with poorly made clones in Boo-tleg.

Montgomery Burns is part of a disgusting send up of the Three Little Pigs in Three Little Kids. Ralph and Milhouse are the first two victims until Bart out wits Burns. All live happily ever after…until “Goldilocks and three zombie bears showed up…”

Bad Milhouse pretty much finishes up the lackluster offering for 2009. As lackluster as this review.

Posted Friday, October 22nd, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2008) 14

Steve Niles deconstructs his 30 Days of Night in 30 Days of Doh. Glenn Fabry joins as the co-plotter and penciler for this year’s Halloween opener.

As happens so much of the time, Homer’s incompetence causes a nuclear accident. A funky fog cover that lasts for 30 days. Those caught in the initial blight are turned to vampire zombies.

Chief Wiggum and Apu are the voices of reason until the sun shines again.

The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror (2008) 14

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2008) 14

Originally, Niles had scripted 30 Days of Night as a comic book. With no backers, he attempted to find someone in the film industry interested. IDW Publishing bought the premise. The finished product was then taken back to Hollywood. Senator International acquired the rights and Columbia Pictures released the film, grossing almost $40 million in the North American market.

Murder He Wrote, by Ian Boothby and Nina Matsumoto, has a sinister notebook taking lives of anyone whose name is written within.

No relation to the Angela Lansbury crime drama.

Homer dishonors the land of the rising sun in Homerstein Conquers the World.

Following the disturbing plot of Toho’s Frankenstein Conquers the World, Homer eats the Frankenstein monster’s heart and becomes a Gargantua – soon to be named in the sequel a few pages later – fighting Baragon and stomping the countryside.

War of the Gargantua Homersteins follows. Another countryside trampling fight ends in friendship while Bart and Lisa speculate on what has come and what will happen.

King Kong vs. Godzilla had its roots in Frankenstein Conquers the World.

When Toho penned a deal with RKO for the use of King Kong, Frankenstein’s monster took a back seat.

The gigantic Frankenstein film was finally given the green light and Baragon was substituted for Godzilla.

The War of the Gargantuas became a sequel the following year in 1966.

Since then the cult movie has found a home just below the surface of normalcy. Such well-known personalities as Brad Pitt, Guillermo del Toro and Quentin Tarantino have praised the film. Even Scooby-Doo parodied the film with Battle of the Humungonaughts during the Mystery Incorporated series.