Gallery: Count The Homages in Guillermo del Toro’s Killer ‘Treehouse of Horror XXIV’ From The Simpsons

Del Toro wound up creating a mash-up love letter to all sorts of his horror/fantasy inspirations in paying tribute to The Simpsons, while taking a page from Mad magazine’s Mort Drucker, Will Elder and Harvey Kurtzman. “They would try to cram so many references in,” he says. “You as a kid could spend an afternoon on your bed with your magnifying glass going through a frame of Mad magazine and finding all these references to this and that.” Keep your eyes peeled for a Futurama nod too. (“I integrate[d] Lisa falling through the couch like Alice in Wonderland but in the dress of the girl from Pan’s Labyrinth, and instead of landing next to the giant toad in Pan’s Labyrinth, she lands next to the Hypnotoad from Futurama.) He stuffed in as many horror/fantasy masters and iconic characters as he could (from H.P. Lovecraft to Edgar Allen Poe to Stephen King to the Universal monsters), though many more had to be left on the cutting room floor. “At the last minute I wanted to put a Mexican wrestler in there,” he notes with a chuckle, “but [casting producer] Bonnie Pietila said to me, ‘We’ve got to go! We cannot keep adding and adding stuff.”

–From the EW.com piece by Dan Snierson (see below)

First of all, if you haven’t read the EW.com piece and watched the opening credits created by Guillermo Del Toro for The Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror XXIV (airing this Sunday, October 6th) check the piece AND the especially awesome (and horror homage-packed) out right here.

Seen it now? Told you it was pretty goddamned cool! The below gallery would be bigger (and we’d have some informal ‘catch the obscure horror references’ contest), but we’re having a couple technical difficulties, plus this writer has a splitting headache. We’ll add to it before Sunday if we can.

(Click on any screen-cap to enlarge) Let’s see, off the top of my (tired, aching) head, what did you spot besides the following:

  • Charles Burns (the artist)
  • The Shining
  • Clash of The Titans
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original)
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • The Illustrated Man
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds
  • The Fly (original)
  • Cronos
  • The Invisible Man
  • Blade
  • Classic Universal Studios monsters
  • Hellboy
  • The Mist
  • Hot Fuzz (we think)
  • Todd Browning’s Freaks
  • HP Lovecraft
  • Mars Attacks! Trading cards
  • Pan’s Labyrinth (you don’t need a sharp eye to spot these particular homages)
  • Brian DePalma‘s Phantom of Paradise
  • Ray Harryhausen
  • Mexican wrestler

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‘The Simpsons’: Guillermo del Toro on creating the epic opening to ‘Treehouse of Horror XXIV’

If you’re getting the sense that del Toro is a big fan of The Simpsons, you’re right. Not only did he slip a few homages to The Simpsons in Hellboy (“Mmmm, nachos” “Why you little…!”), he has a room in his house that’s brimming with Simpsons memorabilia. “My favorite is a 30-inch tall Mr. Burns as Dracula that they only make in Germany,” he says. “It’s a really good sculpture. It’s going to run away eventually, but I think that’s very appropriate.”

-from the EW.com article by Dan Snierson

Don’t miss this! It is almost impossible to count the homages and references here. The classic Universal Studios monsters, artist Charles Burns, Brian DePalma‘s Phantom of Paradise, Lovecraft, Bong June Ho’s The Host, Ray Bradbury‘s The Illustrated Man (short story collection and the movie), Todd Browning’s Freaks (watch for the pinhead from the movie; I’d say it was an American Horror Story Asylum reference but it’s in a shot with a bunch of really old-school monsters and aliens, including the Ray Harryhausen skeletons)… they have to be into the triple-digits. Mrs. Horror Boom was going to be all clever and try and list them all, but that’s pretty time-consuming even without a nasty headache. Of course, special attention is paid to Guillermo Del Toro‘s movies (even ones that most moviegoers aren’t familiar with), especially Pan’s Labyrinth. Just check out the screen caps in the gallery link right here, and see how many you can spot… and enjoy this year’s Treehouse of Horror, which airs this Sunday, October 6th!

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Yo MAMA! Making Monsters with Mama Visual Effects Supervisor Aaron Weintraub (The Credits)

“Even for CG-heavy shots—like a crablike Mama walking up a wall and bending over backwards to reverse course and make a beeline at star Jessica Chastain—Weintraub and his team relied on Botet’s performance, shooting his upper and lower bodies separately and stitching together a composite image to make Mama’s ghostly spine bend at a right angle.”

Oh yes, I remember that shot! That’s right, it was in the last act of the movie! I wasn’t really aware of whether or not it looked CG or practical, as I was too busy screaming at the time. I admit a couple of shots in the last ten minutes or so looked a little too CG-ish, though it wasn’t the hair floating as if Mama was underwater (loved the back story explaining why) but a couple too-clear shots of her eyes. No matter, the other scenes and scares were so visceral and terrifying I’ll let a couple shots that appeared a little digital-heavy slide. Plus, anything that made me scream like a tweener in the front row during a Justin Bieber concert didn’t look phony at the time, that’s for damn sure.

We found a great piece written by Mike Olson (that’s his quote above, as well as the one right after the jump) from Thecredits.org that goes into a little more detail on what it took (other than Javier Botet’s frame and movements) to bring the title character in Mama  to ghostly life-you can read it below by clicking on the big red link below.

Mommy Issues: Making Monsters with Mama Visual Effects Supervisor Aaron Weintraub | The Credits.

 

“He’s very frail and can get his body into all these weird positions,” says Weintraub of Botet, and it is those contortions that serve as a physical manifestation of Mama’s tortured past, as well as the present-day horrors she’ll visit upon anyone who gets close to the “daughters” she’s adopted.

 

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In a separate interview with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, by Meredith Woerner (click here for the complete article), he also talked some about the practical effects:

What did the Mama character look like on set? Was a lot of her CG?

No, no, most of it wasn’t CG. We had this amazing Spanish actor performer who was Mama. His name is Javier Botet. He has this insane body — he’s like the skinniest guy I’ve ever seen, and very long-limbed. Then they had the special FX team from Pan’s Labyrinth who did his head, so he had four or five hours everyday in make-up, so he came out every day looking more or less like Mama. But without the flowing hair, they added that after. But he was there to shoot. He had those crazy movements. It was weird the first time we saw him on set because he has a crazy look… He had these latex fingers and he would touch me like this [wraps fingers around his neck] — it was disgusting. And Jessica, she has these fights with him. It was all him.

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Perhaps that’s why, in most of the reaction shots, none of the acting talent didn’t have to dig unusually deep to look terrified.  In fact, if I were one of them, I’d put in my contract that I had to meet Botet before the shoot, and peek in on him a couple times while he was in the make-up chair.  Either that, or tell the costume department I’d need room in my wardrobe for a pair of Depends.

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This is one of the moments in the movie “Mama” that has led me to advise anyone seeing it in the theater to use the restroom BEFORE the movie begins.