There are no horror movies getting a release this October 4 weekend, but the coming week holds all kinds of good scares on television. Old haunts like “The Simpsons” return with its 24th “Treehouse of Horror” episode. And new seasons of “American Horror Story” and “The Walking Dead” start this week too. Then there is the bright new frightener “Sleepy Hollow”, which continues to yield good ratings after being on-air for three weeks on a very competitive Monday night. TV continues to do the horror genre proud, sometimes a whole lot better than big screen fare.
Homer Simpson and his dysfunctional family start year 25 of animated adventures on television this Sunday on Fox at 7 PM Central with “Treehouse” episode 24. They’ll be offering up three more spoofs of horror including a riff on the horror classic “Freaks”, as well as a parody of Dr. Seuss filled with mischief and mayhem (http://bit.ly/18Y7Pv1).
This year’s “Treehouse” credit sequence is getting a lot of attention online due to being directed by noted horror helmer Guillermo del Toro of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Devil’s Backbone” fame. (You can find it on YouTube http://bit.ly/1dYk1gl).
Del Toro’s three-minute opener has thrown in all sorts of references to horror classics including Hitchcock’s “The Birds” chasing Mrs. Crabapple away from school, and Lisa competing with five different Phantoms of the Opera in the band room. Some salutes are obvious, such as cameos by Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe, while others like the appearances of noted authors H. P. Lovecraft and Richard Matheson, are there for the more observant of horror aficionados.
“American Horror Story: Coven” returns for a third season on FX this Wednesday at 9 PM Central. This year’s saga takes place in New Orleans and will focus on the creepy happenings at a girl’s school for witchcraft (http://bit.ly/193iuDk). A number of previous “AHS” cast members return for this outing including Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Taissa Farmiga and Chicago’s very own Denis O’Hare. New stars added to the macabre mix include Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and Broadway diva Patti LuPone.
If that’s not enough horror in one week for you, the highly anticipated season 4 of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” starts next Sunday, October 13, at 9 PM Central. When we last left the group of survivors under the leadership of Sheriff Rick, they had returned to their prison home along with the remaining Woodbury townsfolk, without knowing the whereabouts of the vicious Governor. He’ll likely be returning soon as he remains as much a threat to them as those ever-shambling zombies.
You probably know the story about Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving’s classic short story “Sleepy Hollow”, but the new Fox series gives it a modern twist. Both characters fought and died in the American Revolution, and now they’ve time traveled to the modern day burg of the story’s namesake. It’s a complex story, rich with history, apocalyptic implications, and all kinds of sorcery and witchcraft, which seems to be a big theme in horror this year. Tom Mison plays Crane with just the right mix of ‘fish out of water’ marvel and English dignity; and Nicole Beharie as the local cop who believes his amazing story nicely counters him. I worried that this could be a one-idea premise, but the complex mystery and this couple’s chemistry may make this one a keeper. Look for it at 8 PM Central on Mondays.
The big screen remake of “Carrie” awaits horror fans October 18 and we will see if it honors or denigrates the memory of Brian De Palma’s classic film. However, until then there are plenty of edge-of-your-seat thrills to be found week in and week out on the smaller screen. And that’s quite an accomplishment, considering all the commercial interruptions.