From Ryan Murphy

American Crime Story – Season 2, Episode 1: “The Man Who Would Be Vogue”

In Miami, Gianni Versace is shot in front of his villa by a young man, Andrew Cunanan.

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Scream Queens – Season 2, Episode 2: “Warts and All”

FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 2, Episode 2: “Warts and All”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk

* For a review of the Season 2 premiere, “Scream Again” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Handidates” – click here
screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-12-45-44-amWith murder on the hospital grounds, Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) has more trouble on her hands again. Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin) is being sweated by the police, even though she was stuck in the hydrotherapy tub the entire time. Lots of whodunnit already! Chanel #1 (Emma Roberts) and #3 (Billie Lourd) arrive to circle their other namesake, berating her about not getting any dick at all, especially in light of Dr. Cassidy Cascade (Taylor Lautner) and Dr. Brock Holt (John Stamos) respectively asking them out. Of course, it’s like nobody believes #5.
screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-12-46-46-amBack with Drs. Cascade and Holt, along with Zayday (Keke Palmer), the Chanels suffer through another consultation being insensitive as usual. This latest guy, Tyler (Colton Haynes), essentially has these tumours forming bumps like pebbles under his skin, all over. Wonder how this might play into the episode, or if it’s just a bit of background mess. In the meantime, Zayday worries about Munsch and her motives for running this hospital. Zayday doesn’t like how things sound about the latest murder, and well, she was around for Season 1. She knows what that crafty bitch gets up to now and then. “I think she wants revenge,” Zayday says re: Munsch. And she asks Chamberlain Jackson (James Earl) to help her out with a bit of low key investigating.
Out at the movies, Dr. Holt and Chanel #1 bond over being horrible people. Ironically The Hand is playing (as well as Pieces). We start seeing more of Brock’s “out of control hand” and she talks about “his hot mouth” – I can’t wait to see where this whole hand transplant thing is headed, because I love it. Meanwhile, #5 is bonding, too. With Tyler. And she comes round to deciding she’ll help him raise the money for the surgery he needs.
Late in the night, Chanel #1 is on duty at the nursing station. Power goes out. Screams. The Red Devil Killer shows up! He lifts his axe, and then removes his mask: it’s Dickie Dollar Scholar, Chad Radwell (Glen Powell), bitch. Who else?
Now that’s an interesting return. His buddy Randall can’t stop screaming, so there he is to get a bit of help. As well as discover that Dr. Holt and Chanel may be “boning.” This scene is god damn hilarious. When Brock keeps clicking the pen, showing off Randall’s exaggerated reactions. In between we find out that Chad’s started a band: “Goldplated Nutsack.”

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-44-37-amscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-12-58-43-amZayday’s digging. Plus, Chamberlain went and got some of the microfiche for her to help, along with a machine setup downstairs. They come across the Halloween Massacre at the hospital. We zip back to 1986 with Dr. Mike (Jerry O’Connell) and a bunch of partygoers, other doctors, all rock out. When a couple of them head to take a few shots alone, they encounter the Green Meanie Killer who promptly chops them to bits. He then pulls a Michael Myers on Dr. Mike, lifting him off his feet impaled before chasing down his next victim to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” and tossing a machete through her midsection. Wickedly nasty sequence. Dig that.
Ingrid Hoffel (Kirstie Alley) asks suspicious questions about whether Zayday might let her know where the Chanels are at all times. She makes a case, but seems pretty sketchy. I wonder what her deal is, I hope she’s got an interesting story.
In the showers, Chad tries to stand his ground against Dr. Holt. They argue over the “dateable guy checklist” and who’s most fit to be dating Chanel #1.  This scene gets more homoerotic by the second, as Chad gradually works his way further and further until literally being tip-to-tip with Brock in the shower stall. I laugh way too hard at Chad Radwell. He’s the ultimate douche and he’s written as such. Powell plays the role incredibly well.
With #1 and #3 convincing #5 that Tyler won’t like her anymore if he gets the surgery, #5 is quite on edge. She kicks the shit out of two dudes who make fun of Tyler in a diner before screaming: “I do not have teeth in my vagina.” Another role played way too funny, written wonderfully, is Chanel #5. Breslin is magic.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-09-15-amMunsch says she could “really use a friend” and so with Chamberlain and Zayday at her door, they agree to listen to her secrets. She tells them about having awful headaches, bad joint pain, a ton of various symptoms. So it looks like Cathy may be straight up this time around. Although there’s no telling if she’s even being truthful. You know how underhanded she can get. Oh, and a lurking figure outside – is it #1? Or is that Ms. Hoffel? – hears all. A little later in the dark corridors, Munsch winds up confronted with the latest Green Meanie Killer. Luckily she has some ass kicking experience. Fighting hard she downs him. When Dr. Cascade and #3 come across Munsch, this distracts her, and the killer gets away. In a meta moment, Curtis goes off on those moments when somebody kicks the killer’s ass and nearly unmasks him but gets distracted. Fucking awesome! This episode is full of fun writing.
Still, Drs. Cascade and Holt are trying to cure Randall of his screaming. In an aside, Brock’s hand acts up again, scrawling a note; that only Chad cares to read. Funny enough it seems to be a grocery list for a fancy dinner. Hmm. Afterwards playing squash, things get tense between Chad and Brock, though the latter asserts his dominance, as well as possibly a homicidal streak? We’ll see.
You know Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) is kicking around, apparently an FBI trainee at this point. She calls Zayday a “stone cold hoe” and believes it’s likely her killing people. Even though she already barked up that tree last season to no avail. But Nash is outrageously funny and I love every time she’s allowed to let loose.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-21-29-amAnd the moment we’ve all been waiting for – or at least I have – the return of Hester Ulrich (Lea Michele). They’ve got her in a Hannibal Lecter-like cell, even talking like Hopkins a bit and there’s plenty of homage dialogue, the dungeon cell area highly reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs – a patient even throws… birthday cake mix… at Chanel #1. So the crazy Hester locked away has demands for helping with their case. One of which includes transferring to Munsch’s hospital. “Bitch, aint nobody got time fodat,” Denise tells her. But I’m guessing they’ll be enlisting Hester soon enough.
So we get a good dose of story about the hand Holt has now. The guy was a world class squash player, finding people to play with and then killing them. That menu Brock wrote down is the last meal he had before going to jail. The guy was executed, a notorious serial killer, and gave up his organs for donation. Chad brings this newfound information to Dr. Holt and they have a bit of a face-off. We also see another tiny slice of that possible crazy person inside Brock.
Munsch talks of going to Papua New Guinea, which Zayday believes led to her having a disease cannibals get from eating human flesh. There’s nothing they can do: less than a year to live. Yikes. We further discover Ms. Hoffel has a bug planted in Munsch’s office, and she knows everything.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-29-17-amscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-30-59-amscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-35-09-amSeems as if Tyler’s been trying to help #5, finding information on the Green Meanie Killer. And then all of a sudden, his surgery is switched, someone wheels him off. Problem is that Drs. Cascade and Holt are gone home to have a “Handsome Contest.” With Tyler on the table, the Green Meanie puts an end to his prying. Tyler gets the laser all right. The Chanels are too late to stop his untimely death.
screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-37-31-amLoved this episode! Maybe one of my favourites of the entire series, honestly.
Excited for more. Next up is “Handidates” and I can only imagine what we’ll see judging by the title.

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Scream Queens – Season 2, Episode 1: “Scream Again”

FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 2, Episode 1: “Scream Again”
Directed by Brad Falchuk
Written by Falchuk & Ian Brennan & Ryan Murphy

* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “The Final Girl(s)” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Warts and All” – click here
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The bitches are back, bitches!
This season opens on October 31st, 1985 (just seven days after my birthday). In a hospital people are partying. But one woman’s husband is in trouble, and she can’t find anyone to take her seriously. Until they come across Dr. Mike (Jerry O’Connell), who – after a bit of prodding – takes care of the man. He and one of the nurses plan to dump a body out back in a swamp, let the animals and nature take care of him. She talks about the “Green Meanie” – an urban legend from when she was younger, a monster that stalked the swamps. Now, heading to the present, are we going to see someone taking revenge for this crime? You betcha.
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It’s 2016. Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) is all over the place as the face of “new feminism.” Meanwhile, hands Doctors Cassidy Cascade (Taylor Lautner) and Brock Holt (John Stamos) are taking care of a Ms. Catherine Hobart (Cecily Strong); an unfortunate lady who’s had to deal with werewolf syndrome. So we come to find out it’s Dr. Cathy Munsch. She received the honorary doctorate they “stripped from Bill Cosby.” Mostly she’s a lot of talk. As usual. But she’s awesome, and she opened up the hospital. Via voice-over, Cathy takes us back through how she got to this point. A fun little romp with Jamie Lee Curtis; ever cool, ever hilarious in a dry, sly way.
And what about the Chanels? Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts), #3 (Billie Lourd), and #5 (Abigail Breslin). We go back over their court case, the involvement of Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) in her crack up testimony during trial. There’s a bit of Hester Ulrich (Lea Michele) on tape claiming “double jeopardy” while arguing with Denise: “Its single jeopardy!”
Then there’s Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer). She’s in med school, trying to get by like many students. Munsch is swooping in on her, offering to pay for her tuition, offering a position at the hospital. Too good to be true? Well, Zayday takes her up on it. Whether that’s a good thing will have to wait a while.

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Starting her schooling, technically a direct entry residency, Zayday meets the obnoxious Dr. Cascade and the weird Dr. Holt. Particularly we get a story about how Holt actually lost a hand a few years back. Lost a ring in the sink, garbage disposal got turned on, and VOILA! These days he’s doing surgery like a magician. His speech is both tragic and hilarious – the way he keeps hitting things, scaring Cascade and Zayday made me laugh. Lots of eeriness, all the same. Cascade seems like an ass, as well as the fact he’s strikingly cold to the touch. Best is when Chamberlain Jackson (James Earl) shows up. His charm is undeniable, if not a bit in your face.
Zayday makes a big with Munsch to get more women around the hospital. You know what that means. Oh, yes.
Chanel and her “idiot hookers” are back. Everybody hates them now to the point they’re having shit thrown at them in the streets. They majored in Communications, they all got jobs. Not exactly what you’d think. Especially after ending up poor, tired, and knocked down a few social pegs. Once Munsch shows up, everything changes. Naturally the girls are sceptical of the former Dean’s extending her hand, asking them to enrol as students and work at the hospital. But really, what else will they do? Their arrival throws Zayday for a loop, too.

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So the fashion clash begins when the Chanels realise they have to wear scrubs. Although things feel more palatable after seeing Dr. Holt taking a shower. Curious: #5 notices a tattoo, sort of like a coat-of-arms with an H in the shield. Hmm. Anyway, the girls each have their jobs. After a bit of brutally funny banter on the term ‘ghosting’ as per Munsch: “Isnt ghosting when you do a number two and you look down at the paper and theres nothing there? And so you stand up and you look in the toilet and theres nothing there either because the turd somehow got shot down the hole before you even flush?”
The Chanels don’t have much bedside manner. Neither do Dr. Cascade or Dr. Holt, the first rambling on a Nietzsche-like thought and the other texting. Poor Catherine, the werewolf lady, is trying to get a bit of sense out of the doctors. Only one providing that is Zayday. We also get introduced to Ingrid Marie Hoffel (Kirstie Alley), R.N., who doesn’t have time for Chanel or any of their bullshit. Speaking of which, Munsch puts the Chanels on academic probation because of their treatment of Catherine earlier. Everything quickly feels like it’s crumbling beneath the Chanels after discovering they also don’t get paid, only free room, board, so on. So they head back to their room and brainstorm about what to do next: find a cure for “werewolf girl” first.
Chanel goes to talk with Dr. Holt about Catherine’s case. We see a bit of his weird, transplanted hand. In the midst of everything, Holt and Chanel figure out there may be a testosterone problem in Catherine, which prevents any further hand madness. Thus starts the fierce competition between Zayday and the Chanels. After a bit of treatment, Catherine loses ALL her hair. Not just a little. Every last bit. They give her a bit of a makeover, so that patches things up for now. Making Munsch’s hospital look great and pissing Zayday off.

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#5 is on graveyard shift while the other two have dates. While she helps Catherine with a bit of hydrotherapy, someone watches in the shadows. #5 opts to get in one, as well. Both of them locked in a tub. Smart move, dummy. Then, a green-masked intruder appears with a couple blades in hand. He puts on a bit of music for the occasion. Before lopping Catherine’s head off.
And we end on a last chop: is it to #5? Or to the head? Or maybe just a last scare? We’ll find out next week.

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An exciting, weird, creepy first episode for the second season of Scream Queens! Really loved this one. Can’t wait to see “Warts and All” next. Lots of promise, new characters, new setting, and a fun mask for a new killer, too.

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 1”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 1: “Chapter 1”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy

* For a review of Chapter 2, click here.
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-23-25-amThis year’s theme? My Roanoke Nightmare. Delicious.
We open on a series of talking heads. Almost seems like an Amityville Horror sort of thing, too. My Amityville Horror is a documentary by the man who was a child during the supposed Lutz story, and this seems to mirror its style a bit.
Well, Shelby (Rabe) and Matt (André Holland) are a married couple. They tell us about their relationship, what they do for a living, so on. They talk about the “worst night” of the their lives when Matt is randomly knocked out by some gang of kids. He nearly died because of their foolish brutality. We see Sarah Paulson playing Shelby and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Matt, like reenactments of that night. Sadly, Shelby lost her baby on that evening. After the event they took a trip out into the wilderness: “We werent city folks,” Matt says.
Out in the woods is an old farm house. A massive backwoods mansion. The house is cheap, just like the one the Lutz family fell into buying in Amityville. They snatch it up, now owning a surely haunted house. Shelby knew it from the beginning, in the back of her mind.
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-23-34-amStrange banging in the night already starts Shelby and Matt off on a rough note. Interracial couple, rednecks kicking around. They’ve had troubles before, but were more than willing to fend any trouble off. Nothing’s too great. When Shelby’s home alone it starts raining teeth. TEETH! That’s pretty fucking unsettling. Of course no teeth are left when Matt gets back. To be expected when you live in a haunted Southern mansion. I mean, even the house, the big windows upstairs, the shape, it’s so reminiscent of The Amityville Horror. Not in a bad sense. Dig the homage.
One evening while cooking, home alone, Shelby sees two young women pass in the hallway, staring at her. Nice bit of tension, as she goes to check out where the women went. Finding nothing, only a suspenseful moment or two. Later when she relaxes in the hot tub outside until somebody holds her under. She calls Matt, who gets home quick, and the police, of course. Although the police don’t care much. Lots of paranoia swirling already. The couple aren’t sure anymore what to believe. So I LOVE the cinematography so far this season – the house especially looks ominous even in how the shadows cast over everything, big windows everywhere like eyes, darkness crowding around them.
Living in the house only gets worse, as you’d imagine. Weird noises get Matt out of bed and he finds a mutilated pig on the porch outside. He doesn’t tell his wife, he assumes it was the redneck boys who wanted to buy the house. So like a smart person, he hooks up lots of cameras and a nice security system hooked to his phone. Better yet, he gets his sister Lee (Angela Bassett) to go out there and look after Shelby. Lee was a bad ass cop, whose injury from getting shot on the job led her to taking medication a bit liberally. One day, really lit up on pills, she chased a serial rapist and her addiction was discovered. This got her fired, before wreaking absolute havoc on her personal life; she lost her husband, even her daughter. A sad, human tragedy.

 

 


Nothing changes in the house. Just because a security system’s in place and a former cop is looking after Shelby doesn’t mean whatever inhabits that house is going away. Paranoia runs mad now with another person kicking around. Only makes it easier for Shelby to confuse ghostly apparitions with Lee moving things, walking around, et cetera. An added interest is that Lee is still an addict. She asks Shelby not to drink, though I’m not sure how well that will hold up. On the other side is the fact Lee is also sceptical of her sister-in-law.
Then the house starts working on Lee. A lone wine bottle rolls across the floor at her, so she assumes it’s Lee being a bitch. “Why would you do something like that?” she questions Shelby. Now the accusations fly between the both of them. Meanwhile, Matt gets a text from his automated security: people in hoods carrying torches have headed through the gate up to the house. Oh, my. He tries to call the ladies, but they’re too busy arguing.
Suddenly, Shelby and Lee are interrupted by a videotape playing on the television, the strange noises from the night coming out – then on the tape appears a pig-headed man in the wilderness, squealing and bloody. Like anybody would be, the women are terrified. The hooded people with their torches get inside the house while the pair hide, and Matt rushes from a couple hours away to try getting home. When the ladies finally come out of hiding there are tons of creepy stick figures a la Blair Witch Project hanging about the house. Cops once more do nothing.
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-45-55-amscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-59-43-amWhen Matt is back he watches the video, only getting angrier at the local hillbillies. He still doesn’t want to leave; Shelby takes off in the car thinking only “fight or flight.” On her way she hits somebody in the road (it’s Kathy Bates and she just walks it off). Shelby chases her into the nearby woods and gets lost. She winds up finding more of the stick figures that were hung in the house, which sends her running into a place where the earth below seems to breathe. Deeper in she comes across a man missing some of his scalp and skull, brain exposed. And in the darkness lurks a man holding a torch, among many others holding torches – Wes Bentley’s character. We’ll just have to wait and find out who he is, as well as what happens to Shelby out there.

 

 


I don’t care what any of these other horror sites are saying – they probably won’t continue watching after the first episode of the series, anyways. So fuck ’em. This was a great start to the new series. Fun references, eerie shots and sequences, a bit of character intrigue and gritty development. “Chapter Two” will likely be good fun.