American Horror Story (Part 1) Murder House, Asylum & Coven

Review of American Horror Story (Contains spoilers)

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Murder House:
‘Murder House’ was by far one of my favorite shows. I loved nearly every moment of it. It’s very rare for me to love every moment of anything, to be honest. I thought it was well written and the actors did an amazing job. It was amazingly unpredictable with beautiful scenery and an unending cast of characters.

Now, usually this many characters can be extremely overwhelming for the viewer, but they handled it perfectly. Each character’s story was explained, At first it was all very confusing, but that was the sly beauty of it. Just as you thought you had an idea about what was going on, the rules changed and you had no idea all along. I love telling people to watch ‘Murder House’. It left me with so many questions, but in a wonderful way. It was gross, it was scary, it was emotional. It was everything it needed to be, even touching on historical murders. A great mix of psychological fear and what goes bump in the night.

Of course, the first season was only dubbed ‘Murder House’ (mostly by fans) after they continued the series with no intention of revisiting the first season. You could no longer just call it AHS because the others had a name, so ‘Murder House’ is accurate.

Love the house? It’s a real place and you can purchase it for a simple $4.5 Million.

tumblr_ns9mt4fcff1si8ep5o3_500Now, is the actual house haunted? According to TVGuide, “The house
could actually be haunted. Even the real-life owners think so. They’ve certainly decorated Los Angeles’ Rosenheim Mansion, a massive 15,000-square foot, six-bedroom home built in 1908, to accommodate souls (or ghouls?) of differing tastes. Alongside the original Tiffany stained glass, the house’s bizarre art collection also includes statues of a goat wielding a shield, a monkey with a banana and a knight with a sword, pencil sketches of Japanese children, Italian paintings, a tiger clock…” But there doesn’t seem to be evidence otherwise.

The inspiration for ‘Murder House’ apparently came from the Bailey Mansion in Hartford, CT. However, everything that I research is just telling me that “This Haunted House was the inspiration for the ‘Murder House”’ (Yeah, no shit! That’s why I’m looking at it). All the sites show the same picture of the house and I’ve only seen two (shotty) explanations. The first explained that a woman killed her husband and children before hanging herself; the second that a witch lived there and buried bodies on the property (I did find an account of a haunting, but I couldn’t prove that it was the same house). I’m not satisfied with either. If you dig something up, let me know in the comments.

So, what was ‘Murder House’ actually about? A family with some serious issues move into a new house to start their new life, but people don’t change and things get fucked fast. Trust no one.

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Asylum:
I was thrilled to see that they were going to be doing a second season and even more excited that they planned on doing a new story with some of the same actors (ok, a lot of them) from the first season. I found this to be not only an interesting concept but also a clever way to keep the audience interested in the show. With that said, I was a bit disappointed with this season. It was good, it still held its twists, but it was more psychological and less physical. What physical they did felt… like an afterthought. Now that doesn’t mean it wasn’t wonderful in its own right, but it wasn’t for me. I enjoyed how much they tried to stay true to the times (there is a scene about ‘correcting’ homosexual behavior) and even incorporated things I’ve personally researched.

Pennhurst State School and Hospital in East Vincent, Pennsylvania was a hospital for the mentally and physically disabled. An expose by Bill Baldini and a lawsuit aided in shutting the place down. It was understaffed and underfunded, but that is no reason for the mistreatment that occurred there. Now it serves as a haunted attraction, Halloween Haunted House, and Army Reserve Base. I’ve been there several times and it’s the one place that I hate going. I don’t plan to go back. There is something wrong with that place. However, I did have the pleasure of meeting Mikey several times in Phoenixville (I would assume this is the same Mikey. I never got his last name). He was one of the patients that was released into the world with nothing and no help. He got through and is amazingly positive, but they could have done so much better.

8fdd5e26-27bb-4ed5-8411-88efeb1e064fThe similarities between the two (‘Asylum’ and Pennhurst) were eerie, to say the least. There were definite chills down my spine. However, they made aliens weird, not terrifying, and it seemed so very out of place for me.

I did enjoy Bloody Face, though. That felt like a toss back to the first season. It was about the creepiest part of the whole season.

Again, not my favorite, had to push myself through some of the episodes, but I finished it.

So what was ‘Asylum’ actually about? A reporter gets locked up for snooping around where she doesn’t belong. Nothing is as it seems, your past will come back to haunt you and they really are out to get you.

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Coven:
‘Coven’ did a much better job. It wasn’t as amazing as ‘Murder House,’ but it was a lot better than ‘Asylum.’ ‘Coven’ also incorporated two of my interests: Marie Laveau and New Orleans.

‘Coven’ is about Witches. The season takes place in a boarding school for witches in New Orleans that is charged with the training of new witches to help them come into their power and stop accidentally killing people. I use the word ‘accidentally’ loosely. They encounter many a horrible thing in the awakened war with the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. During all of this they encounter a woman, Madame LaLaurie, who is holy fucking horrible, Jesus Christ.

tumblr_mvc012zrrh1rr9hnvo1_250For those of you who don’t know, Marie Laveau, the famous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, is currently buried in New Orleans St. Louis Cemetery #1. She had a large following and people would swarm to watch her rites. A lot of mystery shrouds her life, but in death people will go to her tomb, drawn an X, spin three times and shout their wish to her. If it’s granted, they are to return and circle their X before leaving an offering. This practice is still held today.

The LaLaurie house is considered to be one of the most haunted places in America and there is no mystery as to why. Delphine LaLaurie was a prominent member of white Creole society. Oh, and she was a psychopath. In public, she seemed to amicable to black people. Even after several accusations of mistreatment bore no fruit, the rumors still spread. It wasn’t until her cook started a fire (she was chained to the stove and trying to kill herself) that they discovered 7 mutilated slaves in the slaves’ quarters and dug up two bodies in her backyard, one of which belonged to a child. Her cruelty is infamous.

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New Orleans Cemetery Courtesy of Joyce Rossback

So what was ‘Coven’ actually about? ‘Coven’ is about a group of witches who keep screwing up, coming into power, changing how the world works, and poor, poor Evan Peters kind of being thrown into a role because he is the wonderful Evan Peters and they didn’t know where to put him. I applaud what he did with such an awkward character.

I want to take a moment to applaud AHS on their research. It would have been so much easier for them to just make up horrific characters, but they really dug deep and did their best to incorporate the history of the location into this season.

*Side Note* I am very curious as to who on the show has an obsession with Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac. Not that I have a problem with Stevie, but one episode really looks like they were making her a music video. Watch and you’ll understand.

WintersOver4

References: 
Murder House:
http://www.tvguide.com/news/american-horror-story-murder-house-1040779/
http://hookedonhouses.net/2011/10/31/the-real-american-horror-story-house-in-l-a/
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/american-horror-story-mansion-sale-272875

Asylum:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennhurst_State_School_and_Hospital
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG33HvIKOgQ
http://weirdnj.com/stories/pennhurst-asylum/

Coven:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Laveau
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphine_LaLaurie
http://www.hauntedamericatours.com/ghosthunting/hauntedcities/NewOrleans.php

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