Halloween Re:Animated – The Simpsons Halloween Special XXVIII
The Simpsons Halloween Special XXVIII sees the series finally succumb to structural anarchy. Having dabbled with ever-increasing-in-length intro sequences, it finally gives in and provides four distinct Treehouse Of Horror tales. Also on show: a bigger and more ambitiously spent animation budget.
The Sweets Hereafter
“No-one ever wants the apple. They must be afraid there’s a razor blade in me.”
Although hewing close to the animation stylings of “Sausage Party“, this animated edibles sequence doesn’t stray far into adult territory…well, at least until it devolves into choco-cannabilism at the end. Clever and well-observed, it’s a nice, neat opening to The Simpsons Halloween Special XXVIII and a refreshing change from the jumble of competing sequences of previous years.
“Well, if you can’t trust a Catholic priest with a child, who can you trust?”
After Homer orders a relic of Pazuzu from Amazon thinking it’s pizza, Maggie ends up possessed in this well-observed spoof of “The Exorcist”. It’s a better balance of family-friendly humour and knowing nods to its more adult source material and the ending works especially well as Pazuzu seeks another host.
“We don’t have smoke alarms but we have this?”
As Lisa herself observes, “for a ‘Halloween Show’ middle segment, this is amazing”. We return to the fancy CGI animation of the opening segment in this parody of Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline”. Gaiman himself appears as the narrator/ voice of Snowball II as Lisa finds a secret door to another world where a more perfect version of her family exists. As spoofs go, this one really knows how to push its buttons. It’s fun to see the animation work both ways as the button-down versions make their way into the regular Simpsons universe too. Plus it’s surprisingly satisfying that this sequence follows on from and references “The Exor-sis”.
“I’ve failed as a man, but I’ve succeeded as an ingredient.”
It’s something of a throwback as Lisa walks onto a red-curtained stage to introduce this final segment. She cautions that “no-one will be seated during the third act” (actually fourth) of The Simpsons Halloween Special XXVIII. Her warning is well taken because this might just be one of the grisliest Treehouse Of Horror tales ever, based on Stephen King’s “Survivor Type” (from “Skeleton Crew“). We should be thankful this story didn’t turn up in previous specials where the emphasis was on gore than humour. It’s still a fairly queasy watch although it manages to keep things light enough to be fun.