Those Guillermo Del Toro (And More) Simpsons References Explained!

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The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episode is a venerable Halloween tradition, a chance for the writers to cast off the strictures of writing a largely changeless world (at least as regards the central characters) and kill off everyone / transform them into mutants / introduce Bart’s long-lost good twin. This year, the opening credits were designed by Guillermo del Toro, who included a raft of classic horror and sci-fi movie references as well as nods to his own filmography. We’ve gone through the result to see what we could spot, and added a few that our readers noticed – can you fill in any we missed?


Those clouds are looking more ominous than usual. A passing Burns Power Plant-mutated raven (are the three eyes a Game of Thrones reference?) gets a nasty surprise… which turns into a perspective gag below. He was bigger than we thought!


The military fend off a Zombie attack at the walls of Springfield Power Plant. We’re calling this a generic zombie reference, rather than anything specific, although Night of the Living Dead is obviously a thing, and the military angle could nod to Day of the Dead.


Wide shot with the zombies attacking the plant in the foreground. In the very background, we can see a Pacific Rim gag, with a Kaiju (Knifehead, looks like) fighting a giant robot. Note the giant bird skeleton (which might be intended as reminiscent of the skeleton found by the astronauts in Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires) and the "Human Resources Dept." gag.


...We zoom in past Jimbo and Kearney sawing the head off the Jedediah Springfield monument, in front of an armoured school bus in the model of the Dawn Of The Dead remake (good spot, Hughie Lynch)...


...Jed’s head then decapitates Ralph Wiggum, who continues to lick his ice cream in a possible nod to Re-Animator.


Lard Lad is brought to life by a bolt of lightning (shades of Ghostbusters?), only to be taken down by Chief Wiggum, monsterised as Ray Harryhausen’s Cyclops from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Note the creepy cemetery and mansion, and the dragon beasts overhead.


Alfred Hitchcock sits on a bench next to Mrs Krabapple, feeding The Birds…


Here’s the blackboard gag, with Bart sentenced to chalk the line “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” from (Kubrick’s film of) The Shining...


He turns to find Stephen King writing the same all over the walls.


Bart skates out of the schoolroom window, and passes Groundskeeper Willie, transformed into Hellboy. Bart’s wake blows away a pile of leaves, revealing clockwork Nazi Karl Ruprecht Kroenen.


In the power plant, the rogue isotope causes Homer to monsterise into a Blade 2 Reaper....


...Carl reveals himself to be secretly Blade, and accidentally decapitates Lenny...


...Lenny’s drinking from an “I hate Mondays” mug – we think that’s a nod to Portal 2, where one such mug appears, because we already know from the Pacific Rim trailer that Guillermo loves that game.


We pan down beneath the plant to reveal, buried, the original Tracy Ullman Show-era Simpsons...


Beneath them is a Godzilla skeleton. And beneath that…


We find ourselves in a Hell-like Pan’s Labyrinth, where Mr Burns has become The Pale Man and Smithers (ahem) a rather unfortunate fairy.


Off to the supermarket where we find Maggie on the conveyer belt with the vampire mechanism from Cronos and a collapsed Golden Army soldier. On the news rack, there are issues of Bleeder’s Digest, Better Tombs and Gargoyles, and The Ghost of Newsweek...


There are cocoons on the ceiling that look a bit like the ones from The Mist. The cashier is now a giant spider (her register rings up 666)...


while Marge has become a humanoid roach a la Mimic.


Gerald unzips himself to reveal he’s one too...


Maggie unzips to reveal she’s really Gerald! Anyone know the reference for the babies' price tags?


Lisa’s music lesson has been crashed by four Phantoms of the Opera – a sort of original, “classic” design, plus Lon Chaney, Herbert Lom and Claude Rains...


...Lisa’s unruly sax playing reveals that Winslow Leach, The Phantom of the Paradise, is leading the session. (Forumite Whazzupfrogzntoadz points out that the paintings visible on the wall as Lisa leaves all refer to previous Treehouses of Horror).


Dodging a zombiefied Nelson, Bart skateboards over Cthulhu (is this a hint of del Toro's At The Mountains Of Madness plans? Probably not really)...

...who it’s revealed is having tea with his creator HP Lovecraft.


As Bart skates on, we also see Edgar Allen Poe with his Raven, Ray Bradbury illustrating a man...


...and Richard Matheson, shaking his head sadly because his I Am Legend vampire looks the way they do in The Omega Man.


A mob of villagers (Mo and Skinner at the head) is chased by torch-bearing Universal monsters: the Frankenstein creature, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy, The Creature From Black Lagoon...


The Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and Metalunen from This Island Earth.


On the bridge, Maggie is driving the car from The Car...


...with Milhouse the unfortunate cyclist.

Driven into the river, he’s munched by a giant Blinky. Incidentally, this whole sequence (apart from the fish) is from The Car, but Milhouse on the bike is also giving us flashbacks to It and In the Mouth of Madness. Is that just us?


An incredibly busy panning wide-shot. We’ve got Del Toro’s giant Lovecraftian Elemental from Hellboy 2; the Lost in Space robot escorting Rod Serling from the scene (a joke that works even better if you know that CBS cancelled The Twilight Zone and replaced it with Lost in Space); Kang and Kodos crashing their saucer into the power plant stacks; Ray Harryhausen’s Ymir from 20 Million Miles to Earth; Lon Chaney in London After Midnight...

...Geiger’s Alien almost hidden behind a wall; a Morlock from The Time Machine; Ro-Man from Robot Monster (the gorilla in the fishbowl helmet); Hans Moleman painting Hitchcock’s silhouette on a wall; three Ray Harryhausen / Jason and the Argonauts skeletons (also a possible nod to Army of Darkness)...


...two Saucer Men (from Invasion of the Saucer Men); Nosferatu; The Fly; Gort and a flying saucer from The Day The Earth Stood Still; a pinhead and Johnny Eck from Tod Browning’s Freaks...


...The Mummy and the Invisible Man again; Rondo Hatton; and The Grim Reaper. The lizard-like creature writing “El Muerto” next to Hans is one of The Mole People, reckons our commenter Dellamorte Dellamore; the satellite thing is the spaceship from The First Men On The Moon (thanks, Drew42); and the bald green guy in the foreground is the original 1951 The Thing From Another World (good spot, Hammerfan).


Here we are at the house, does Lisa’s red hat refer to something? We’d suggest Don’t Look Now, but that was a raincoat, not an ensemble with a pillbox hat...


...With Maggie still driving in the black car, she illuminates the inside of the garage. Are there always gas masks and an axe in the garage?


Homer doing a Blade 2 Reaper again just before Maggie runs him over, leading to…


...The couch! Homer’s re-appeared as the ghost from The Devil’s Backbone. Marge is still a roach....


Lisa gets sucked into the sofa and falls down an Alice-like rabbit hole.


Lisa lands and is confronted by Futurama’s Hypnotoad, playing the role of Pan’s Labyrinth’s giant amphibian, after which, mesmerised...


we find ourselves back in Pan’s Labyrinth, with Homer and Marge recast as the King and Queen of the Underworld...


...and Bart as The Faun.


The sequence ends with Lisa smiling surrounded by fairies from Pan's Labyrinth. Fancy watching it all again?