Graveyard Shift

Horror Movie References In 'The Simpsons' 'Treehouse Of Horror' Specials  

Jodi Smith
928 votes 138 voters 4.6k views 15 items

List Rules Vote up the homages that thrill; vote down the references that eat Bart's shorts.

The Simpsons became the longest-running primetime scripted television series in April 2018 when it aired episode 636. During its decades of entertaining viewers, the show has left its mark on pop culture with its quirky cast of characters, brilliant jokes, and predictions that eventually came true. Its deft usage of pop culture references, woven throughout every episode, has only aided its longevity. The homages are always current, and the show seems to have its finger on the pulse of societal issues consistently.

At no time are these references more front-and-center than in The Simpsons annual Treehouse of Horror specials. These episodes pull inspiration from many places, but horror films are always the priority. From 1931's Frankenstein to 2007's Paranormal Activity, the twisted takes on familiar material never fail to delight and surprise the audience. 

A Nightmare on Elm Stree... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Horror Movie References In 'The Simpsons' 'Treehouse Of Horror' Specials
Photo:  Fox/New Line Cinema

Donning Freddy Krueger's signature black and red sweater and hat, Groundskeeper Willie threatens the children of Springfield in their dreams. Lacking the finger knives of Krueger, Willie uses his trusty rake to inflict harm on Bart, Lisa, and their friends.

Just like in the movie, the kids have to face Willie in their dreams to stop his retribution against the parents of the town.

Is this a good homage?

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The Shining is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Horror Movie References In 'The Simpsons' 'Treehouse Of Horror' Specials
Photo:  Fox/Warner Bros.

Homer and the rest of the Simpson family agree to take care of a huge, empty hotel in the middle of nowhere for the winter. Unfortunately, "no tv and no beer make Homer go crazy," and he starts to go after Marge. Just like in Kubrick's classic, Homer meets his end in a maze that surrounds the hotel.

The difference lies in how he bites the dust, with the entire Simpson family freezing as they stare blankly at a television set in the snow. 

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Bram Stoker's Dracula is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Horror Movie References In 'The Simpsons' 'Treehouse Of Horror' Specials
Photo:  Fox/Columbia Pictures

A vampire is on the loose in Springfield, and it doesn't take long for Lisa to identify the creature when she joins the family for a visit to Mr. Burns's estate. Faithful assistant Smithers is a dazed Renfield to Burns's Gary Oldman-esque Dracula.

After Burns turned Bart, he bites several more children in town before appearing at Lisa's window to recruit her - a nod to the television movie and Stephen King book Salem's Lot.

Is this a good homage?

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I Know What You Did Last... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Horror Movie References In 'The Simpsons' 'Treehouse Of Horror' Specials
Photo:  Fox/Columbia Pictures

The Simpsons are seen traveling on a winding mountain road when Marge suddenly runs over Ned Flanders. Believing Ned has perished, Homer takes him home and pretends he's still alive on his roof. After a while, he throws the cadaver from the roof to clear the family name - and to ensure the family won't be the primary suspects.

Writing appears on the walls of their home, taunting them with "I know what you did." Soon, Ned returns dressed in a fisherman's slicker and menaces the family with a hook.

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