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The Alfred Hitchcock Tribute Episode You Missed On That '70s Show

That '70s Show is like comfort food for sitcom fans. Week in and week out when the series was in its original run on Fox, fans could count on the misadventures of Eric Forman (Topher Grace), Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson), Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis), Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), and the foreign exchange student known only as Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) to put big, goofy smiles on their faces — just like the kids always seemed to have when they were sitting in a circle in Eric's basement. The show's warm, witty humor was a ton of fun, and the writers always seemed to have the most fun with That '70s Show's holiday episodes, which featured festive modifications to the iconic opening credits sequence and took delight in playing around with the conventions of traditional holiday programming.

Case in point: the season 3 episode "Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die," one of the most hilarious Halloween outings any sitcom has ever fielded. In it, the gang — along with Eric's mother Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) and sister Laurie (Lisa Robin Kelly) — experience some spooky goings-on in their sleepy little town of Point Place. Along the course of the episode, a number of the group's travails intersect in gut-busting ways. 

To the average viewer, the multiple plot lines in "Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die" might appear to be totally random, but fans familiar with the works of legendary "Master of Suspense" Alfred Hitchcock know they're anything but. Early in the episode, Kelso gives the whole game away by musing, "You know what would be fun? Is if we were in an Alfred Hitchcock movie right now, and we didn't know it. And then someone told us, and we were like, 'Oh, man, I'm in a movie!'" As it turns out, Kelso was right — it does end up being a whole lot of fun.

The Hitchcock references come fast and furious in That '70s Show's season 3 Halloween episode

It all begins when Fez, dressed as Frank N. Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, steals Eric's Super Ball, instigating a chase that ends on the roof of the Forman home. After a wacky struggle, Fez tumbles off the roof, while Eric is left hanging by his fingertips. This leads to a cutaway of Eric screaming and flailing against a spinning, pinwheel-esque background (a motif that recurs throughout the episode) — just like James Stewart's John "Scottie" Ferguson does in Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock's psychological thriller from 1958. 

Due to his fall, Fez is confined to a wheelchair, and the ever-caring Kitty provides him with an Afghan blanket. This leaves Fez looking a bit like another of Hitchcock's characters also played by Stewart: L. B. "Jeff" Jefferies, the hapless protagonist of 1954's mystery thriller Rear Window.

While Fez and Hyde try to unravel a would-be murder mystery involving Eric's next-door neighbors Bob (Don Stark) and Midge (Tanya Roberts) Pinciotti, Kitty goes to another neighbor's home to care for their birds — an entire murder of crows, of course. Kitty accidentally lets one of the crows out of its cage, and it immediately tries to fly out of a closed window, apparently killing itself in the process. Creeped out by the accusing stares of the other birds, Kitty balks and returns home, asking Laurie to feed the crows instead. But when Laurie reluctantly tries to oblige, one of the crows poops on her, so she also bails. The crows are a clear reference to Hitchcock's The Birds, based on the novella of the same name by Daphne du Maurier.

Elsewhere, Kelso gets into it with the Formans' paperboy, who thinks he's a family member in a case of North by Northwest-like mistaken identity. The kid ends up recreating the most famous scene from that movie, attacking Kelso with a remote-control plane that crashes into a painting of a cornfield that looks like the one in the film.

The Hitchcockian silliness continues with a reference to his most famous film

This leads to the episode's most convoluted and hilarious Hitchcock reference, which calls back to his most famous work. After the dustup with the paperboy, Kelso has to use Laurie's shower — but Laurie, smeared with bird poop, is more than little annoyed to find him there. She rips back the curtain, prompting Kelso to utter a high-pitched shriek. Admonishing him to get out of her shower, Laurie then attacks Kelso with a back scrubber, causing him to knock over her bottle of shampoo — which, fittingly, is colored red. The camera cuts away from Laurie's brutal attack and shows the liquid swirling down the drain. The whole sequence plays out quite like the infamous Janet Leigh shower scene in Psycho.

Meanwhile, Kitty is back at the neighbors' house, but she's found that all of the crows have somehow escaped their cages and are eyeing her maliciously. Terrified, she dashes into a phone booth that has inexplicably appeared in the living room, and she shrieks helplessly while all of the crows — which, at this point, are very obviously puppets on strings — try to gain entrance. Again, it's an obvious nod to The Birds.

The episode ends with an "it was all a dream" moment that implies that perhaps it wasn't a dream. As the credits roll, the characters all take turns mugging against that spinning Vertigo backdrop from earlier. 

"Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die" has got to be the best Halloween episode of any sitcom this side of The Simpsons, even if you're not a Hitchcock fan. If you are, you've got to appreciate the way elements from so many of his films are woven into one supremely silly story.