By Nikki Cain
Every Halloween, since 1990, The Simpson's television show has regaled fans with new tales in The Tree House of Horror series. There are now twenty-five episodes of fantastically freaky fun in this series. Each episode is brimming with intertexuality references. The first episode, The Tree House of Horror 1, contains no less than twenty references to movies and books, if not more. The series was originally inspired by EC Comics Horror Tales. There are three segments or stories in each episode which always parody popular and classic literature, movies, radio, and television shows. With twenty-five Tree House of Horror episodes, The Simpsons have touched upon subjects and themes concerning every thing spooky often overlaying plot lines from a variety of sources.
In the debut episode, during a segment called Bad Dream House, the Simpson family finds that their house is trying to possess their souls in order to convince each family member to murder one another. The segment uses themes from The Shinning, Ghost Busters, The Exorcist, Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, Psycho, The Fall of the House of Usher, and The Addams Family. In a funny plot twist, the house kills it's self rather than continue to try and convince the family to do each other in.
In the segment called The Raven, a satire of Edger Allan Poe's poem, a grief stricken Homer is plagued by a bat like Bart. This segment appears in the first Tree House of Horror episode. Not only is The Raven referenced but so is The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and The Pendulum, The Tell Tale Heart, and The Purloined Letter. Edgar Allan Poe's poem is only slightly changed in it's wording so the viewer gets a close rendition of the original Raven. Poe's bust appears in the scene as well as the bust of Peter Lorre who stars in Tales of Terror which was inspired by Poe's writings.
The Simpsons are a wealth of intertexuality. Anyone craving a healthy dose of popular cultural education needs only watch The Simpsons to be fulfilled. The episodes are full of written as well as visual references that create richer, deeper jokes for the audience to enjoy. Reference layering is the joy of intertexuality; it creates an enriched experience for the media consumer by representing ideas and themes and creating fresh interpretations. The Tree House of Horror series as well as the rest of The Simpsons episodes, offer a rich assortment of intertexuality and parody from a wide breadth of sources. Watching one episode will remind the viewer of countless plot lines, characters, and themes from popular culture. With twenty-five full and irreverent seasons to enjoy, viewers can get a full sense of classic and popular themes in literature as well as a good laugh.