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October is my favorite month of the year, as it incorporates everything from cooler weather to my birthday to Halloween and scary movie marathons. It also means that a new Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons is coming, which is always a cause for celebration, and this year is no different. Check out the gorgeously creepy couch gag from this year’s installment, as animated by Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi.
There’s so much to love here, especially for fans of Kricfalusi’s work over the years, and it’s immediately recognizable as something he put together. The guy has an eerie knack for making incredibly morbid and unsettling things look cartoonish and childish.
But let’s focus on what is undoubtedly the greatest thing about this couch gag: the return of Frank “Grimey” Grimes! Or Frank Grimes’ monstrous corpse, I guess. Grimes is one of the biggest fan favorite characters in Simpsons history, appearing in the Season 8 episode “Homer’s Enemy” and serving as something of an audience surrogate who despises Homer for falling ass-backwards into successes despite being a lazy and unethical buffoon. Grimes ended up electrocuting himself by the end of the episode, and his death was almost avenged years later by his son. It’s almost strange that Grimes’ corpse is sucking the souls of the Simpsons’ children instead of going straight to Homer, but oh well. At least he makes it there in the end.
Of all the great visuals in here, including the floating dog that looks nothing like Santa’s Little Helper, I think I’m most haunted by the shot of the hanging children, which is so gruesome I’m surprised Fox let it happen. I’m thinking about tattoos now.
And if you were wondering if the masks that Bart and Lisa are wearing had a little story behind them, you’re in luck. Here’s what showrunner Al Jean told EW about the animation.
His work is a very twisted homage to Hanna-Barbera, and what’s funny is he has the kids wearing Huckleberry Hound masks. We had to get clearance from the Huckleberry Hound people. Then it turns into a John Kricfalusi cartoon and a song by him. It’s one of those things where any frame you look at, you just go, ‘Wow.’ It’s meticulously made.
Agreed on that. The song is wonderful. And the rest of the Treehouse episode is pretty well-made this year as well. The first segment features Sideshow Bob killing Bart a bunch of times and reflecting on his life, the second is a parody of Godzilla and other big monster movies, and the third features the kids developing telekinetic powers.
This is a nice follow-up to the previous Treehouse couch gag, for which Guillermo del Toro put together a ton of horror references. I love the way that The Simpsons has been so inventive with its couch gags over the past few years, with animators like Bill Plympton, Don Hertzfeldt and others taking the reins.
For those who want to catch Kricfalusi’s biggest success, keep an eye out for Nickelodeon’s Splat programming block, which will feature episodes of Ren & Stimpy along with tons of other classic kids shows. But before that, check out “Treehouse of Horror XXVI” this Sunday on Fox.