Graveyard Shift

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

Jodi Smith
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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 Street 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.

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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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Night of the Living Dead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Horror Movie References In 'The Simpsons' 'Treehouse Of Horror' Specials
Photo:  Fox/Continental Distributing

Bart, being the lovable misfit he is, chooses a tome of black magic to use for his school book report. After he takes it home, Lisa starts to reflect on all the wonderful times they had with their late cat Snowball I. Bart suggests using the book to re-animate their lost pet, then goes to the pet cemetery (Pet Sematary references also abound) to summon Snowball. 

Of course, things go awry, and Bart ends up resurrecting former (and perished) residents of Springfield, who wreak havoc on the town. 

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Bram Stoker's Dracula is listed (or ranked) 4 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.

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