Countdown: The 10 Best Simpsons Episodes!


Thirty effing years. That’s insane. The Simpsons has become such a faded and well-worn thread in our cultural tapestry that it’s easy to forget how important it is. You could make the case, and many have, that it has featured the most consistently excellent writing in the history of series television.

And of course, any discussion of the show brings instant debate, from hipster-inspired cries of long-lost relevance to the nearly impossible attempt to rank the best episodes.

Okay, we won’t try to rank them, but we can come up with our 10 favorite episodes…


The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show 1997

Homer joins the voice cast of Itchy & Scratchy, and what follows is not only hilarious, but a spot-on skewering of media pandering.

Quote: “My name’s Poochie-D and I rock the telly, I’m half Joe Camel and a third Fonzerelli. I’m the kung-fu hippie from gangsta city, I’m a rappin’ surfer…you the fool I pity.”


Homer at the Bat 1992

Monty Burns assembles a star-studded group of Major Leaguers for the company softball team. Extra points for Terry Cashman re-recording his “Talkin’ Baseball” to memorable effect.

Quote” “Not once, not twice, but thrice!”


Simpson and Delilah 1990

A new wonder drug gives Homer a full head of hair and he begins to climb the corporate ladder, with a big help from his new secretary Karl (a terrific Harvey Fierstein).

Quote:  “You are nature’s greatest miracle! Say it!”


The Shinning (from Treehouse of Horror V) 1995

The Simpsons take on Kubrick’s classic horror film and the results are perfect, right down to the picture of the tartan-clad lass hanging above Groundskeeper Willie’s bed.

Quote:  “No TV and no beer make Homer something something..”


Kamp Krusty 1992

When Bart and Lisa are away at Kamp Krusty, Homer and Marge are enjoying an ideal life..until Kent Brockman’s special report clues them into the erupting camper rebellion .

Quote: (Kamp counselors preparing a toast) “Gentlemen, to evil!”


Mr. Plow 1992

Homer finds great success as snowplow operator “Mr. Plow”, only to face stiff competition from Barney as the new “Plow King.”

Quote:  “Are you tired of having your hands cut off by snowblowers?”


Homer to the Max 1999

After the TV show Police Cops uses the name “Homer Simpson” for a fat, stupid detective, Homer changes his name. Taking inspiration from a hair dryer, he becomes to “Max Power” and begins getting new-found respect…so much so that he changes Marge’s name to “Hootie McBoob.” Classic.

Quote:  “Max Power doesn’t snuggle, Marge, you just strap on and feel the G’s!”


Cape Feare 1993

A triumphant return for Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammar), as he resumes his quest to kill Bart. The Simpsons enter the witness protection program as “The Thompsons,” and a flawless parody of Cape Fear takes shape.

Quote: “I think he’s talking to you”


Two Dozen and One Greyhounds 1995

Bart and Lisa discover Mr. Burns’ plan to use the fur from a litter of Greyhound puppies for his wardrobe, which leads to Burns singing “See My Vest,” one of the nest songs in the entire series.

Quote:  “They all look like little Rory Calhouns!”


Colonel Homer 1992

Reflecting the country music boom that was exploding at the time, Homer becomes the manager to struggling country singer Lurleen Lumpkin (Beverly D’Angelo). An endlessly quoteable (and singable) episode.

Quote: “As much as I hate that man right now, you gotta love that suit”



Honorable Mention:  RV Salesman in The Call of the Simpsons 1990 

A satire of the Bigfoot TV specials of the time, this episode isn’t one of the best, but it contains one of our favorite segments ever seen on the show:  Albert Brooks as Bob the RV salesman.

Quote:  Homer, applying for credit:  “Is that a good siren, am I approved?”

Bob:  “You ever known a siren to be good?”


Okay, we’re going to stop now before our top 10 list becomes a top 50…which episodes did we miss?




The Judgement of Paris

Memoir of War

by Matt Weiner

So a screenwriter, the president of France and a spy walk into a café… have you heard this one? If so, you might have read the book La Douleur (War: A Memoir for the English translation), an autobiography by Marguerite Duras based on diaries she allegedly wrote during World War II.

Duras rose to fame as a writer, garnering a screenplay nomination for the Alain Resnais-directed Hiroshima mon amour. That film’s novel treatment of memory and chronology echoes throughout Memoir of War, adapted from Duras’s book and directed by Emmanuel Finkiel.

Mélanie Thierry plays the film version of Marguerite, whose recollections span the waning days of Vichy France through the Liberation of Paris, the end of the war and the immediate aftermath of Europe reckoning with news of the Holocaust.

If this sounds like a lot of history to cover for one movie, it would be—except Marguerite’s reflections are unconcerned with straightforward chronology. Her diaries and narration compress time and memory into one long, all-consuming reverie for her captured husband, Robert (Emmanuel Bourdieu).

It makes for a deliberately disorienting experience, one that Finkiel pulls out a few tricks to heighten: there’s the nauseatingly atonal strings of the soundtrack, as oppressive as a horror score. But most effective is the way Marguerite’s memories of these monumental years unfold so frequently in claustrophobic interiors.

We get the entire moral arc of world war by way of smoky Parisian rooms. As the war winds down and Robert’s fate seems more and more dire, Marguerite retreats both mentally and physically. And we experience the two most triumphant moments—the Liberation of Paris and what should be another happy occasion after the war—through Marguerite’s furtive glances out the window, like gossamer filters keeping the reality of the world at large a step removed from ever being something she can attain herself.

It’s a demanding role, and it rests almost entirely on Thierry to hold everything together even as her character seems to slip in and out of time. She pulls off resolve with gusto, and even tempers it with a haunted uncertainty that feels completely natural as the enormity of the Holocaust becomes clear.

Memoir of War is a difficult film to get a handle on. The Resistance intrigue is discarded as quickly as it starts to take shape. The historical romance is mostly MacGuffin. And the war barely leaves the cafés, let alone the city.

The slipperiness is apt though. Marguerite’s memories are their own fog of war, and the author’s real-life diaries play coy with authenticity vs. artistic liberty. Finkiel pieces together a fitting adaptation, and if the parts never hold together long enough to say some cohesive whole, at least he can say he makes us feel something Marguerite would recognize.

Not-So-Fun House

Hell Fest

by Hope Madden

Hell Fest is not the first film to point out that it would be really dangerous if any of the masked meanies inside a Halloween haunt were, indeed, a murder-happy maniac. It’s not a bad premise, just not a new one.

In keeping with the not-so-fresh theme, this film is a straight-up, unapologetic slasher. Not a nostalgia-seeped, homage-laden satire or meta-commentary. Nope. Hell Fest is an unironic slasher. Six nubile youths drink some shots and head into a situation that should be fun but does, of course, hold the potential for serious danger. But they’re young, they’re immortal, they’re so hot and horny.

Why so much groping, by the way? They aren’t that drunk, they have homes, none of them just got out of prison. That’s the thing about slashers: we’ve seen so, so, so many of them over the years that the cracks in the formula are gaping holes by this point.

Nevertheless, Hell Fest stays its by-the-numbers course. Director Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension) manages to keep the energy high, even as the story weaves tediously through an amusement park.

The script, penned by a committee of five, doesn’t burden itself with much in the way of backstory or the need for character arc. Of the six, Natalie (Amy Forsyth) is the smartest and least slutty. She is, therefore, the target of our slow-moving, weirdly strong, masked marauder.

Her friends are mainly over-the-top caricatures of humans, but there’s an almost believable camaraderie among them. Forsyth fares best, clumsily flirting with the equally awkward Gavin (Roby Attal) as their overdressed friends drink from flasks and tell us how very excited they are.

While a couple of the attractions are fun, the main problem with Hell Fest is that it is not scary. Not for a minute. Nor is it gory—for a film with an R rating, there’s almost no blood, absolutely no nudity and very few F-bombs. It’s as if they hoped for a PG13 rating, didn’t get one and now they’re stuck with a movie that can’t entertain the wee ones and won’t entertain adults.

They do have Tony Todd, though. When has that ever been a bad idea?

I know, October is basically here and you just want to find some new scary movies to put you in the mood. Dude, seriously, Halloween comes out in two weeks. Just hold your horses.



by George Wolf

So, while we’re down here debating the existence of Sasquatch/Yeti/Bigfoot, an entire community of them lives above the clouds, wondering the same about us shorter, wee-footed folk.

That’s a cute and clever conceit for a family tale that might look a lot like Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., which makes it even more surprising when WB’s Smallfoot instead flirts with becoming the most ballsy, subversive animated film since Zootopia. It’s a film with big ideas, some generic and some risky, but just too many to juggle into a truly memorable takeaway.

Channing Tatum leads the voice cast as Migo, an affable Yeti who has always bought in to everything his village’s “Stonekeeper” (Common) was selling, including the fact that the legendary Smallfoot wasn’t real. But then Migo sees one, which raises some questions, and questions themselves are a problem.

Migo, like all the Yeti, has been taught to suppress any questions he may have about the stones the Stonekeeper is keeping. Those stones guide the beliefs of the Yeti through the various statements written on each. You might even call them…commandments.


Smallfoot raises eyebrows early, but once Migo manages to bring smallfooted Percy (James Corden) back to his village, it settles into a pleasantly entertaining mix of messages, music, and Looney Tunes-worthy pratfalls.

Tatum gives our hero a fine voice (though his singing is a bit thin), Corden is always fun and the support cast (including Zendaya, Danny DeVito, Gina Rodriguez and LeBron James) is capably unique, but co-directors Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig chase too many snowtrails.

Some moments, like the Stonekeeper telling Migo about the ease of deception, find their mark, while others such as Percy’s struggles with reality TV become overly familiar distractions.

The driving theme here is truth, and how very hard it can be to find. Question, be brave, explore science as well as faith. Maybe sing a song. Though Smallfoot doesn’t deliver on its radical beginnings, it finds a comfort zone less likely to spark partisan rancor in the aisle.

School of Hart Knocks

Night School

by Hope Madden

The endlessly likeable Kevin Hart and the undeniably talented Tiffany Haddish join forces, which sounds like a solid plan except that Night School is a Kevin Hart movie, and when was the last time one of those was any good?

Sure, Jumanji had some laughs. In fact, Hart’s films almost always boast a few chuckles, mainly because of the actor’s infectious energy and self-deprecating humor. But they’re not good.

Neither is Night School which, even with Haddish and a handful of other proven comic talents, isn’t funny, either.

Hart plays Ted, a good-hearted hustler, talking big and spending bigger, pretending to be more than he is to compensate for his own insecurities. Of course he is, it’s a Kevin Hart movie.

Haddish is Carol, the overworked, underpaid night school teacher here to believe in Ted and the collection of losers in her class. It’s tough love, though, because Haddish is funnier when she’s mean.

What the film does well could have been packaged into an enjoyable 15-minute short. Hart gets off a few laughs working for a Christian fast food chicken joint, and the camaraderie among his late blooming classmates sometimes draws a giggle.

The actors portraying those night school chums work hard to establish memorable, funny characters with limited screen time and an even more limited script. Still, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Rob Riggle, Al Madrigal, Anne Winters and especially Romany Malco work wonders. Taran Killam amuses on occasion as the uptight principal with a grudge.

But there’s only so much they can do. Director Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip) drags every gag out about 8 minutes longer than necessary. The script, penned by Hart and five other writers, does Lee no favors. Even Haddish struggles to be funny with flat dialog and pointless, contrived physical comedy bits.

While you’re not laughing you might notice that Night School does make a few surprising choices. Its comedy is good hearted. This is a film that likes all its characters—the females, the losers, those with success and even the parents whose coddling and/or verbal abuse may or may not be to blame for the whole night school problem.

Those are small successes in a film that squanders a lot of talent and all of our time.

Hellhound on My Trail


by George Wolf

Outlaw country musician Blaze Foley lived too hard and died too young, a life so steeped in cultish mystery that even the director of his biopic believed an urban legend about what led to Foley’s tragic death.

Ethan Hawke, who also co-wrote the film with Foley’s ex-wife Sybil Rosen, presents Blaze’s story with respectful grace and an observational tone that moves casually but cuts deeply. Seemingly drawing inspiration from frequent collaborator Richard Linklater (who has a cameo role in the film), Hawke’s directing style is unassuming and unhurried, mining resonance from small moments that define his subject.

It seems cosmically right that a virtual unknown singer-songwriter, Ben Dickey, plays Foley, who may be best known to mainstream country fans as the writer behind songs recorded by artists such as Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and John Prine.

Dickey, who was working as a chef when Hawke offered him the role, is a revelation. Though more physically imposing than the real Foley, Dickey reveals the demons that frequently bested Blaze, pushing him to sabotage his relationship with Sybil (Alia Shawkat-also stellar) as well as his chances at big-time music business success.

With music such a big part of the film, Hawke’s decision to present it in its live, raw glory reaps big dividends.

Dickey mimics Blaze’s phrasing, picking and rambling onstage persona to eerie perfection, getting an impressive assist from Charlie Sexton as fellow troubadour Townes Van Zandt. Sexton (who had an 80s hit with “Beats So Lonely,” has been Bob Dylan’s guitarist for years and appeared alongside Hawke in Boyhood) gives the film solid layers of reference as the drawling Van Zandt charms a radio DJ (Hawke) with stories of Blaze, the little-known legend.

From dreaming of stardom while riding in a truck bed, to antagonizing barroom audiences, to a visit with Blaze’s once-abusive, now senile father (Kris Kristofferson), sequence after sequence rings more organic and true than most found in music biopics.

It’s clear this a passion project for Hawke (and, of course, for Rosen), who is smart enough not to let that passion interfere with authenticity. Blaze gives Foley the re-birth he clearly earned – as a conflicted, damaged soul longing to be heard.



Animal Logic

We the Animals

by Rachel Willis

Imaginative Jonah is the focal point of director Jeremiah Zagar’s family drama, We the Animals. Based on Justin Torres’s novel of the same name, Zagar and co-writer Daniel Kitrosser successfully enter the realm of adolescent boys.

The youngest of three brothers, Jonah is the film’s narrator. His quiet observations allow him to remain nearly invisible to the adults around him. He sees things others might miss, and with an artist’s eye, he renders his observations into illustrations that jump off the page.

With his two older brothers, Manny and Joel, Jonah navigates his parents’ volatile relationship. Though there is love between his Paps and Ma, there are also moments of violence.

While the time period of the film is never explicitly stated, based on a few clues it’s likely the mid-1980’s. It’s a time when kids ran wild outdoors without cell phones or tablets in hand. The cinematography captures the sunny summer days when aimless kids roamed far and wide. It perfectly evokes the innocence and curiosity of young children.

As Joel and Manny enter into adolescence and leave childhood behind, Jonah falls further into his own world. The three brothers, at first inseparable, start to drift apart. While Joel and Manny seek to become men just like their father, Jonah tries to carve out his own identity. It puts him at odds not only with his siblings, but his parents as well.

There’s a dream-like quality to the movie reminiscent of films such as Beasts of the Southern Wild and Pan’s Labyrinth. Though Zagar’s approach is slightly less fantastic than either film, there is still a lovable, magnetic child at the center. As Jonah, Evan Rosado joins the ranks of child actors whose talent belies their age.

Zagar proves his mettle as both writer and director. His previous works include a number of solid documentaries (Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart, In a Dream), but as his first feature film We the Animals is a marvelous addition to his body of work.

Blinding Us with Science

Science Fair

by Rachel Willis

One year back in high school, my school decided participation in the science fair would be compulsory. I resented this since the last thing I wanted to do was “science.”

Watching the teenagers profiled in documentarians Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster’s film Science Fair, I start to understand the appeal of sincere participation in regional, national and international science fairs. If I had seen film the year I participated, I might have taken it more seriously.

What these kids invent, build and research makes my greenhouse in a shoe box look prosaic. From research into ways to prevent Zika transmission to monitoring and testing for arsenic in groundwater, these kids are smart, ambitious, and driven.

The crème de la crème of science fairs is the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). To qualify for participation in ISEF, first these students must win their area science fairs, which can be state-wide or regional competitions. However they make it to ISEF, the teenagers who qualify have already faced stiff challenges from their fellow science enthusiasts.

To help the viewer understand the pressure these kids face, former ISEF winner Jack Andraka sheds light on the stress of presenting to judges. Projects that students have worked on for months, even an entire year, must be broken down into ten minute presentations to a handful of judges who will decide if their project is worth the prestigious Gordon E. Moore Award.

It’s hard to pick a  favorite. All of the teenagers profiled are charming and their desire to win is infectious. You wish they could all win.

Science Fair follows the familiar structure of other films depicting students engaged in fierce competition – First Position, Spellbound, and Make Believe. We’re given time to get to know the students profiled, to watch them hard at work on their craft, and then we follow them through the competitions as they fight their way to the finish line.

Costantini and Foster make a point to profile students from varied backgrounds. Some of the kids attend private schools especially focused on STEM education. Others attend public schools so focused on athletics that science achievements are completely ignored. The directors want to make a point that science is for everyone and anyone can achieve the level of success that these students find.

In a country that frequently devalues science and scientists, this documentary reminds us that these kids are our future.

That future is very bright.

Nightmares Film Festival: 2018 Lineup Announced



For horror fans, Christmas has come three months early — in the form of the Nightmares Film Festival 2018 program, presenting 24 features and 164 shorts over the four-day event running Oct. 18-21 at Gateway Film Center in Columbus.

True to its “#BetterHorror” motto, the program is jammed top to bottom with a mix of premier genre films from around the globe. Across the 188 films, there are dozens of world and North American premieres, a short accompanied by live in-theater music, projects from genre favorites, a Stephen King block and even a new documentary section.

“We’re on a never-ending, worldwide quest to discover the films that are reshaping the boundaries of horror — bold voices, new visions of terror, films that haunt you,” said co-founder and programmer Jason Tostevin. “That’s how we build every Nightmares, and this may be our best lineup yet.”

The features lineup is stacked with the world premieres of some of horror’s most anticipated new movies, including white-knuckle thriller The Final Interview from Fred Vogel (Toetag Pictures, August Underground); twisted kidnap nightmare The Bad Man from Scott Schirmer (Found, Harvest Lake); ‘80s-style horror anthology Skeletons in the Closet from Tony Wash (The Rake); and paranoia-fueled apocalypse tale Haven’s End from Chris Etheridge (Attack of the Morningside Monster).

North American feature debuts include The Head from the director of ThanksKilling, about a medieval monster hunter; Christmas horror-comedy The Night Sitter; action-horror creature feature Book of Monsters; and mistaken-identity comedy-thriller Kill Ben Lyk.

Horror legend Bill Lustig will open the festival with a brand new 4K restoration of his classic, Maniac. New cult director Jason Trost (The FP) will attend with The FP 2: Beats of Rage.

Nightmares also continues its tradition of presenting one of the top genre shorts programs in the world. This year’s short films include horror, thriller, midnight and horror-comedy blocks playing throughout the festival.

The festival also introduces its Recurring Nightmares section this year, a category that showcases the newest shorts by festival alums.

The fest’s legendary Midnight Mindfuck block also returns. The section, called “one of the most dangerous and challenging programs at any festival” (The Film Coterie), will present Trauma, a harrowing tale grounded in the darkest parts of Chilean history, and La Puta es Ciega (The Whore is Blind), a surreal and violent exploration of the streets of Mexico.

“Every aspect of Nightmares is filtered through the question, what would excite us as fans?,” said co-founder Chris Hamel. “We don’t think there’s a better experience for makers and lovers of horror than the four days of Nightmares Film Festival.”

The 13 finalists in both the Nightmares short and feature screenplay competitions were also announced. The ultimate winner in each competition will be announced at the awards ceremony on Oct. 20.

Nightmares begins Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. and runs until Sunday night, Oct. 21. Fans who are ready to make the pilgrimage to Columbus, Ohio will find a limited number of passes still available for the festival at

Hope Madden and George Wolf are proud to be among the jury panel for Nightmares Film Festival, one  of the top horror film celebrations in the world. It has been the number-one rated genre film festival on submission platform FilmFreeway for 30 consecutive months.




Boo – Rakefet Abergel

Mourning Meal – Jamal Hodge

Hiking Buddies – Megan Morrison

Living Memory – Stephen Graves

#dead – Derek Stewart

The Burning Dress – Sam Kolesnik

For Good Behavior – Ron Riekki

Air – Dalya Guerin

Invidia – Vanessa Wright

Minotaur – Michael Escobedo

Pancake Skank –  Savannah Rodgers

The Callback – Sophie Hood

The Farm – Cate McLennan


Patience of Vultures – Greg Sisco

People of Merrit – Adam Pottle

The Shame Game – Greg Sisco

Rise of the Gulon – Matt Wildash

Left Of The Devil – Stephen Anderson

Bartleby Grimm’s Paranormal Elimination Service – Dan Kiely

Kelipot – Seth Nesenholtz

The Coldest Horizon – Jeffrey Howe

Throwback – Rachel Woolley

Resurrection Girl and the Curse of the Wendigo – Nathan Ludwig

The Caul – Sophia Cacciola & Michael J. Epstein

The Devil’s Gun – James Christopher

Residual – Tyler Christensen


The Bad Man

Skeletons in the Closet


The Night Sitter

Book of Monsters

Maniac 4k

Confessions of a Serial Killer

The Head

Never Hike Alone

The Field Guide to Evil


The Final Interview

Kill Ben Lyk


Be My Cat: A Film For Anne

The LaPlace’s Demon



Haven’s End

Dark Iris


Beats of Rage

Camp Death III in 2D!


La Puta es Ciega

More Blood!


Killing Giggles

The Unbearing

Let’s Play

Amy’s in the Freezer

One Hundred Thousand


Apartment 402



Vampiras Satanicas II: The Death Bunny

42 Counts



Syphvania Grove

Rites of Vengeance

The Scarlet Vultures

Music Lesson

Thousand-Legged Terror

BFF Girls

Gut Punched




Bathroom Troll

Don’t Drink the Water

The After Party


Here There Be Monsters

Don’t Look Into Their Eyes


El Cuco is Hungry






All You Can Carry

Made You Look

The Desolation Prize

Doggy See Evil


Goodbye Old Friend

There’s a Monster Behind You



Ding Dong

Oscar’s Bell

Red Mosquito

Goodnight Gracie




House Guests

The Last Seance



The Bloody Ballad of Squirt

The Chains

One Dark Night


Midnight Delivery

I Beat It

Mama’s Boy

Alien Death Fuck

Hell of a Day


The Dark Ward

Mystery Box




The Noise of the Light

Short Leash


Where’s Violet

Tutu Grande


Lady Hunters


Headless Swans

A Death Story Called Girl

Dead Cool

You’ll Only Have Each Other


The Box


Witch’s Milk

Post Mortem Mary



They Eat Your Teeth

They Wait for Us




The Hex Dungeon

I Am Not a Monster

Gentlewoman’s Guide to Dom.

Blood Highway

Sock Monster

The Monster Within

Viral Blood

No Monkey




The Jerry Show

Proceeds of Crime


Mother Fucker


Night Terrors

The Thang




Tears of Apollo


The Mare

Mother Rabbit


Human Resources

Blood and Moonlight

Suicide Note

Enjoy the View



The Things We Left Behind

I Am the Doorway


The Borrower

Below the Trees

The Sewing Circle

The Choice

What Comes Out

Beyond Repair


Hell to Pay

Who’s There


Down the Hatchet

The Green Lady

Not From Around Here


The Cat

House of Hell


Cry Baby Bridge



The Party’s Over

A Thing of Dreams

Mother of a Sacred Lamb


What Metal Girls are Into

My First Time




Jingle Hell

Arret Pipi



Cabin Killer

American Undead

The Thing about Beecher’s Gate


Best of Me



Netflix and Chill

Attack of Potato Clock




Heavy Flow

Sell Your Body

The Infection

Blood Sisters

Shit … They’re All Vampires


There’s One Inside the House

I Don’t Want to Go Out—Week of September 24

I know you didn’t really dig Solo, but if you’re on the fence (or you skipped it), maybe give it a second look. Definitely no need to see Uncle Drew, but if you missed Izzy as she got the F across town, now is the time to rectify that situation. Here’s the low down on what’s new in home entertainment.

Click the film title to read the full review:

Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Uncle Drew

The Seagull