The Simpsons' annual "Treehouse Of Horror" Halloween special has been a holiday tradition for 25 years.
Mostly taking their inspiration from sci-fi and horror classics, "Treehouse Of Horror" has created some of the funniest and most well-crafted parodies of all time. Occasionally, however, the show manages to write a segment that is really, legitimately creepy.
To really get into the spooky spirit, here are 12 truly scary "Treehouse Of Horror" stories to give you nightmares this Halloween.
1. "Bad Dream House"- "Treehouse Of Horror I" – Segment 1
The Simpson family moves into a haunted house that bleeds from the walls and possesses everyone - except Marge - and manipulates them into trying to kill each other with knives and axes.
Based on the horror classics Poltergeist and The Amityville Horror, this was the first "Treehouse Of Horror" segment that ever aired, and it set the perfect tone for this spooky Simpsons tradition.
2. "Clown Without Pity"-- "Treehouse Of Horror III" – Segment 1
Everyone, without fail, is terrified of two things: clowns and creepy dolls. This "TOH" story is about a creepy clown doll that comes to life. In the segment, Homer buys Bart a Krusty The Clown doll from a store called the House Of Evil. Homer is told that the doll is cursed, but he ignores the warning. Then, the tiny Krusty comes to life and tries to kill Homer in a number of brutal and disturbing ways.
3. "Terror at 5 1/2 Feet" -- "Treehouse Of Horror IV" – Segment 2
This adaptation of the classic Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" succeeds in a way that you would never imagine it could: by making a school bus terrifying. In the segment, Bart sees a nightmarish gremlin hanging on the side of his school bus, and he tries in vain to get anyone to believe him.
Of all the "TOH" segments on this list, "Nightmare At 5 ½ Feet" leaves us with the most unsettling image of all: A gremlin holding the severed head of a still-smiling Ned Flanders, spinal column and all. Good luck sleeping.
4. "The Shinning"-- "Treehouse Of Horror V" – Segment 1
Homer is hired to be the caretaker of a remote hotel resort during the winter, and he brings his family along. During their stay, Homer discovers that "no TV and no beer makes Homer go crazy." Also, the hotel's evil ghosts don't help the matter. Homer then tries to murder his family with an axe. Obviously based on The Shining, it's one of the best parodies ever made, and is still able to pull off clever jokes in the middle of being truly creepy.
5. "Nightmare Cafeteria" -- "Treehouse Of Horror V" – Segment 3
In this dark and sinister adaptation of the 1973 sci-fi classic Soylent Green, Springfield Elementary's Principal Skinner faces two problems due to budget cuts: Detention is overcrowded, and the school cafeteria can only afford "Grade F" meat. This leads Skinner to a gory solution: Eat bad children.
Scenes of kids unknowingly eating meat made from their classmates, children being kept in kennel cages and a giant blender that is made to slice and dice children into a fine puree are what make this episode truly horrifying.
6. "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace" -- Treehouse Of Horror IV – Segment 2
In this segment, The Simpsons puts their own horrifying spin on The Nightmare On Elm Street. Bart and the other students of Springfield Elementary begin having nightmares of a murderous Groundskeeper Willie, who is able to hurt them in their dreams. Soon, the students discover that Willie burned to death due to the negligence of their parents, and he is now a dream spirit who can kill them in their sleep. Watching Groundskeeper Willie morph into a giant bagpipe spider is something that, as a child, you don't soon forget.
7. "The Homega Man" -- "Treehouse Of Horror VIII" – Segment 1
In this adaptation of the 1971 Charlton Heston classic Omega Man, the French declare war on Springfield and drop a nuke on the town. Homer just happens to be inside a bomb shelter at the time and is one of the only people to survive. He soon discovers that everyone else in the town is either dead or have become violent, hooded-robe-wearing mutants.
8. "I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did" -- "Treehouse Of Horror X" – Segment 1
Driving home on a foggy night, Marge hits and kills Ned Flanders by accident. Fearing that no one would ever believe that a Simpson accidentally killed a Flanders, they hide the body and try to go about their lives. But someone knows their secret and begins stalking and threatening them.
As a parody of I Know What You Did Last Summer, this segment hits all the right notes of making fun of slasher film tropes, while at the same time building up to really creepy moments. Also, the squishing noise made by Homer poking Ned's eyeball is just disturbing.
9. "Night of the Dolphin" -- "Treehouse Of Horror XI" – Segment 3
Based on the 1973 sci-fi film The Day Of The Dolphin (and also The Birds, sort of) this segment sees Lisa freeing a Dolphin from the zoo. Little does she know the dolphin is actually a porpoise king and he leads all the other dolphins in a violent revolt against mankind, driving the citizens of Springfield out into the sea to eventually be drowned. It will change the way you feel about going to SeaWorld.
10. "The Island Of Dr. Hibbert" -- "Treehouse Of Horror XIII" – Segment 3
In this parody of The Island of Doctor Moreau, the Simpsons head out to an island resort, only to discover that it's run by an evil, insane Dr. Hibbert, who is turning people into animal-human hybrids. If nothing else, this episode is creepy for the scene where a half-turkey/half-Professor Frink is cooked and served for dinner, and screams as Dr. Hibbert cuts into him.
11. "Don't Have A Cow, Mankind" -- "Treehouse Of Horror XX" – Segment 2
When Krusty Burger introduces a new hamburger -- made from cows that had eaten other cows -- it leads to a zombie outbreak where almost everyone in Springfield is turned into a "muncher." Only Bart is immune to the disease, and the family must fight their way out of the city to a safe zone where a cure can be made from Bart's genes.
It's a funny, biting and truly creepy parody of I Am Legend and 28 Days Later that managed to be one of the best "Treehouse Of Terror" episodes from the show's later seasons.
12. The Inside-Out Murder Fog (Technically part of "Nightmare Cafeteria")
This is kind of a cheat as it's not its own segment, but it's so freaking creepy that it really deserves its own place on this list. At the end of "Nightmare Cafeteria," Bart is awoken from his terrifying dream by his family, only to see a green fog seeping in from the window. The fog happens to turn people inside out, and suddenly the beloved Simpsons family is skinned, exposing their organs and muscles. Then they do a bloody musical number as the episode credits roll, and suddenly your soul is never quite the same again.
To really get into the Halloween spirit, check out this list of cinema's all-time greatest scream queens!
You can follow Zach Seemayer on Twitter @ZachSeemayer