Tagged Evan Peters

American Horror Story – Freak Show, Episode 12: “Show Stoppers”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 4, Episode 12: “Show Stoppers”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Jessica Sharzer

* For a review of the previous episode, “Magical Thinking” – click here
* For a review of the Season 4 finale, “Curtain Call” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-3-20-43-pmThe penultimate Season 4 episode starts with a large party at the freak show. Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) watches on and toasts her family and friends. As well as the new owner, Chester Creb (Neil Patrick Harris). Everyone is in attendance, from Marjorie to Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts), Paul (Mat Fraser), Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin), Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) and the Tattlers (Sarah Paulson).
Elsa asks for time alone with the original freak family. She thanks Richard Spencer a.k.a Stanley (Denis O’Hare) for helping to change their lives. Only we know the truth. And now, Elsa knows, too. They’re reeling him in with food, drink, as well as entertainment – nice callback to Season 2 and The Sign of the Cross, as Legless Suzi (Rose Siggins) complains they don’t want to see that one again. But Stanley says he has to go, lots to do before their move to Hollywood. Elsa doesn’t want him to go, nobody does. They want to give him a nice present. Out comes a big, heavy box. They beg him to open.
And what’s inside? The head of the museum owner floating in a jar. Cut to a scene where Maggie and Desiree lured her in, before killing her. “Now its your turn,” Desiree tells Stanley. He of course squirms like a snake about to be cut in half. He keeps flaring up the dreams of Hollywood, but Elsa won’t have it. He’s put up on the knife wheel, as Elsa tosses a few blades. Then things progressively get worse with Stanley cornered by the entire crew of freaks.
Let’s see where ole Stanley ends up after they’re finished with him.

You tried to kill my dreams, but they cannot be murdered. But what you didyou brought death into this place, and for that you must pay.”

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-3-21-33-pmJimmy Darling (Evan Peters) is turned onto what really happened with Richard a.k.a Stanley. Maggie gave herself up to everyone, too. But Jimmy is not happy. He is completely disfigured now and doesn’t want to be the leader Elsa says they need. She’s bringing an old friend who can help with his new predicament. Maggie’s left to help change the bandages on Jimmy, though, he would rather not have her around. Still, she tries her best to be there for him in his weakest time of need.
At the same time, Elsa is working on her show not having much luck with anything. Out of the darkness comes the doctor who helped her so long ago – Massimo Dolcefino (Danny Huston). He is the old friend come to help Jimmy with the missing hands. Elsa and Massimo embrace, having not seen each other for so long.
Switch over to Chester and the Tattlers having sex, while Marjorie (Jamie Brewer) is watching. Or at least Chester sees her as very real and embodied, looking on. He throws her on the floor, out of the way, as requested by Bette and Dot. Then the lovemaking gets more intense after Marjorie is out of the way. Afterwards, she’s not too impressed with Chester, who says he simply got “carried away.” The twins obviously don’t want to be watched by a creepy doll. But Marjorie convinces Chester, more and more, they’re only trying to twist him up. He doesn’t want to see it, though, I’m sure Marjorie will drive him to seeing things her way. Even if Chester still believes Alice/Lucy, his wife and her lover, were killed by Marjorie the doll.
QUICK CUT TO: Chester beating his wife’s lover to death with a hammer, blood everywhere. He remembers it. He just doesn’t want to, that’s all.
Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) pokes his head into the Tattler Twins’ tent. He has “relevant information” pertaining to Chester and his other life before the freak show. He appears like a friend would, trying to look out for them. Of course, we’re well aware of the true dark heart in Dandy. Even if he fakes some tears, saying he’s not “half the man” they deserve. Funny little line, I thought. Sadly, though, the guy has real information about Chester and the girls don’t heed his warnings. They’re not entirely above board, his intentions. But Dandy is sort of looking out for them, in his own backhanded way. And Chester is actually a psychopath, so y’know.screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-3-23-08-pmBut now we’re getting back to Elsa visiting Jimmy in his bed, feeding him a bit of liquor and telling him he “looks like shit.” Well, duh – he has no hands. Then she readies some penicillin as Massimo reveals himself. He is going to craft some new hands for Jimmy, to make his life a little more manageable with wooden hands.
Excellent flashbacks to Elsa’s past, in the black-and-white snuff films. More connection to Season 2 Asylum with a young doctor Arden (played here by John Cromwell; James’ son) leading the crew of people cutting the legs off Elsa. Massimo tracked down Arden, or Hans Gruber as he was known then. He tried to kill the doctor, but only received capture and hideous torture. Luckily, Massimo survived because a higher ranking general wanted a bookshelf, and he was needed to build it. Later he escaped to America and away from it all. Amazing story and a great inclusion of Danny Huston in this season, giving him more screentime than I originally imagined he would have.
At the carnival, the Tattler Twins are at odds over who Chester really is; Bette is worried, Dot thinks she is influenced too much by Dandy. They say they don’t want to be his assistants any more. This shakes Chester. He says they’ll be ‘sawed in half’ during his big finale, instead of a member from the audience. They don’t want any part of being in that box, refusing to do so. But Maggie says she’ll do it, she wants to be a “part of the show” and seems very eager.
Now, Chester is hallucinating it’s his wife, and then her lover getting in, not Maggie. This spells danger already. When the trick is being performed, Chester starts hallucinating more. He handcuffs Maggie at the feet. He sees Marjorie, the wife, the lover, Maggie, all in the box. Maggie is terrified and then he proceeds to saw her completely in half, blood spurting everywhere. Paul and the others are mortified by what has happened, as he hauls the box open and Maggie’s guts spill everywhere. Supremely nasty stuff. In the audience, Marjorie sits laughing: “Thatll packem in, Chester.” No one is too broken up, as Maggie helped kill some of the freaks. Desiree tells the rest of the crew: “She had it comin‘.”
In his trailer, Chester finally stabs Marjorie to death. Or to splinters, I don’t know anymore.

 

 


Knowing the truth about Ethel’s murder, the rest of the freaks intend on taking revenge upon Elsa. The Tattler Twins discover her in her tent, finding out she is also a freak with her missing legs. But they tell her about the freaks coming for her, feeling indebted to her slightly. Then, Elsa is gone before they can find her.
At a police station, Chester walks in to confess the murder of Marjorie. How perfect.
Before fleeing Jupiter, Elsa meets with none other than Dandy Mott. She receives $10,000 in exchange for her carnival. And so Dandy loves every moment of it, prepared to take hold of the show himself. Afterwards, he finds Stanley who is now transformed into an homage to Tod Browning’s Freaks. Fitting, as it was referenced earlier on at the start of the episode. Very creepy scene with Stanley’s new body.

 


The finale sees Massimo give Jimmy his new hands: they are wooden lobster hands, like his original ones. Jimmy claims they’re perfect and comes to accept himself, in a new yet familiar form.
screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-3-29-28-pmExcited for the next and final episode of Season 4, “Curtain Call”.

American Horror Story – Freak Show, Episode 9: “Tupperware Party Massacre”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 4, Episode 9: “Tupperware Party Massacre”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Brad Falchuk

* For a review of the previous episode, “Blood Bath” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Orphans” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-4-23-05-pmOnce again, we come back to Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) and her treacherous Cabinet of Curiosities.
This chapter starts with Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts) doing a reading for the psychotic Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock), who last we saw murdering his mother, bathing in her blood. We get a nice, creepy cut to an Avon saleswoman at Dandy’s door, who he invites in to keep his mother “company.” What proceeds is Dandy building his own “puppet mother,” standing in as a two-headed corpse simulating Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson). But Maggie foretells: “Your indiscretion will soon be forgotten.” He gives her a hundred dollar bill, “a hundred thank yous“, and tells her not waste the powers she holds inside of her. Which we know, or at least are pretty sure, are total bullshit anyways.
Over with Ima Wiggles (Chrissy Metz) sits being fed by Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), who has a glass of liquor nearby. Paul (Mat Fraser) and Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin) are worried about his state. When Dandy shows up at the tent city, Jimmy goes on a drunken, sad rant, ending up on the ground after trying to swing a punch. Everyone’s worried about the twins, but now Dandy has showed up to tell Jimmy clearly: “I am your god, and I have decided you need to suffer.”
screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-4-24-51-pmThe Tattler twins are holed up in a motel room with Elsa and the greasy moustached Stanley (Denis O’Hare). They’ve whisked Bette and Dot off in the dark of night, after tossing through Ethel’s things back at the camp in Jupiter. Elsa claims Dr. Sugar is on his way there, he can perform the surgery. Although, Bette doesn’t look too happy about it.
At camp, Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) and Maggie are interrupted by Angus T. Jefferson (Malcolm-Jamal Warner). He has a thing for Desiree, seemingly hot and heavy. He’s her “beau.” But they run into Jimmy who has Ima bent over and is giving it to her pretty good. He’s drunk and off his head unfortunately.
Cut to Jimmy at a little house party where women are again paying him for pleasure. Only he’s hammered and can’t get the job done. He stumbles out seeing a vision of his mother Ethel (Kathy Bates) chastising her son for being drunk, for “wasting his life grieving” over her. It’s a surreal scene where even the other women seem to be talking to Ethel. Except Jimmy snaps out of it – all the women scared, telling him to leave quietly. And so he does. Poor Jimmy.
Even worse for him is the fact right after they usher him out, Dandy comes knocking and says his car has broken down. He needs to call “the auto club.” Will this be the episode’s name coming to bear: a true Tupperware party massacre after all?
What little humanity is left in Elsa melts away before our eyes. We flash from present to the near past, where Stanley essentially talks Elsa into bringing the girls for the surgery. Then back to the present again, Stanley continues pumping bullshit into everyone around him, trying to convince the twins they’ll be able to live, each of them, on their own. Bette does not like the idea whatsoever. And you can see a little worry in Dot’s eyes, as they’re left in a shed by Stanley and Elsa, alone in the dark.
But first, back to the bloody massacre at the Tupperware party. A husband comes home to find Dandy left the place in quite a mess. His wife, and all the Tupperware friends, are floating in a bloody pool.
Over at the Mott residence, Dandy is filling his bathtub with a little water and a lot more blood. Up shows Regina Ross (Gabourey Sidibe), who quickly gets the confession: “I killed your mother.” He reassures Regina her mother was buried “weeks ago“, the blood in the room was mostly his mother’s who is now dead, and some blood from “some lovely ladies” he’s putting into the bath. Very eerie scene watching Dandy prance around, raving, stripping down for a bloody bath saying “I AM A GOD. A god who was chosen to walk among men.” I don’t every usually use this word, but that whole scene is god damn epic. He sends Regina running, alive, and doesn’t worry; not only is he god, apparently, he screams “I AM THE LAW!”screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-4-26-55-pmBette and Dot are at odds, regarding the separation. Bette knows they both can’t survive, she isn’t stupid. Dot knows it, too, we already understood that. Bette tries to convince her they can do anything together: “How much would you give for the health and happiness of the one you love?” And she further tells her sister she couldn’t survive alone, not without her. She says she’d give her life for Dot, if there had to be a choice mad. They love one another unconditionally, despite all that’s happened in their lives.
Stanley still has Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis) under his thumb. Because Dell, for all his faults, has started to gain a conscience. Of some sort. Then out of nowhere, Stanley whips out his apparently massive penis. “Youre a freak,” utters Dell. He’s tempted, you can see. In the present moment, he’s writing a note to Desiree, saying he “cant go on” with a noose hung up behind him and Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge) coming to him in ghost form. Even Ethel’s ghost haunts the trailer, eternally disappointed in her ex-husband. And when Dell finally tries to hang himself, the light almost closing in and taking him, Desiree comes in and cuts him down: “Sorry,” he tells her.
Meanwhile, Stanley is with another man friend, dressed up as a very unprofessional doctor. He’s practicing to be Dr. Sugar: memorizing the Brody names, the various things he’ll have to say. Very nasty intentions here, but Stanley simply calls it “euthanasia.”
A police officer and Regina show up at Dandy’s door. He invites the man in, offers a drink, but the officer wants some answers. Then we get a little lesson in what 1950s Florida felt like for any people of colour. Dandy spirals his way through a conversation about his power, his white power. “I have seen the face of God and he is looking at me from the mirror,” says Dandy. The rich young man offers the officer a million dollars to “dig a hole” for Regina, and easy as that: the cop blows a hole through her head and asks for a shovel.

 

 

 

 

 


At the carnival, Jimmy is stumbling around drunk. He finds Bette and Dot returned, they don’t want to be separated anymore, neither of them. They want to stay together, as a family. And they want Jimmy to be a part of their lives. He is headlong in despair, he needs something to ground him, but can’t seem to find it anywhere else. Turns out, though, Dot has loved him since first sight. She loves his tenderness. She slips off her clothes, telling Jimmy how “different but special” he is. He politely asks how Bette feels about it, to which she replies they can have privacy, and she is also totally with her sister, she wants her happiness. Strange, yet romantic in a sense, as well. Only Jimmy says he can’t be with them after a short kiss and embrace; he says he’s in love with somebody else. So sad, especially considering Dot does not easily let her emotions free like that. A heart breaking situation. At least she has Bette in the end.
The police show up for Jimmy Darling, claiming he murdered all those women at the Tupperware party. They found his glove at the scene of the crime. But we know it was all Dandy behind the massacre. The cops whisk Jimmy off to jail, as the rest of the freak show is left reeling and worried for him, his life.
screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-4-29-18-pmLooking forward to the next episode, “Orphans”. We’re going to see a familiar face in the American Horror Story series come back to link Asylum with Freak Show.

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 11: “Protect the Coven”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 11: “Protect the Coven”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Jennifer Salt

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Go To Hell” – click here
screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-6-30-40-pm
Another flashback at the top of this episode, with Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) coming back from Paris, though reluctantly. She rambles on about the lack of “intellect” and “inner light” present in the slaves, as well as the loathing of her own family. Nobody seems on her level, I suppose; that’s funny. It’s 1830. Delphine has a chicken brought over for slaughter, ending up cutting the head off herself. She feels its blood run warm over her hands. Then cut to up in the dank attic, a slave has a deep injury to his leg, blood pooling out of it. Looks like this is the first time Delphine realized her inner bloodlust. There’s no other slaves kept in cages there as of yet, so it must have been long before her disgusting habits became regular; in fact, this is when she first arrived. Very interesting to see the start of her love of blood. She doesn’t help the poor injured servant, only knocks him out to keep for further use. She bleeds him out and just from the sound of her breathing, it’s exciting to her. “I think I’m gonlike it here,” she tells the gagged and moaning man in front of her. Eerie start to this episode, giving us more glimpses back into the history of LaLaurie and her murderous impulses.
screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-6-32-50-pmFiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) show fake sympathy for the dead Nan (Jamie Brewer), who is being laid to rest in the cemetery. All the witches are present. Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) shows up with LaLaurie reconnected at the head and on a leash; brutally, darkly funny. Everyone is sort of pissy. Myrtle (Frances Conroy) is naturally suspicious of any death in the coven, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) backing her up nowadays. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) has Kyle (Evan Peters), who might as well be on a leash. But they all leave after the brief funeral, still wondering where Misty Day (Lily Rabe) could be.
Across town at the Delphi Trust, Harrison Renard (Michael Cristofer) receives word from his right hand man David (Mike Colter) that the story on Hank and his death will be covered up; he was, on record, as a homeless veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Back at the academy, Fiona and Marie are still scheming to get the witch hunters. For once, for good. All the while, we get an excellent voice-over from LaLaurie who goes about the house cleaning up after everyone, lamenting every last minute of it. Even better there are great moments such as Myrtle tasting a beautiful soup made by Delphine, then when Delphine is given a cute little black baby to hold by Marie. So many perfect scenes, it’s a great sequence that lasts almost 5 minutes; the score underneath it all is so good, such an intense and emphatic bit of work.
But the best? A gardener comes in from outside, his hand bleeding; a black man, it so happens. Right as Delphine wonders “what fed my soul back then.” Perhaps a bit too perfect. She’s taken up residence in Spalding’s old room upstairs. The whole voice-over has been Delphine talking to the poor black man she has tied up currently. Such an expertly written sequence, I’m beyond impressed with this episode. This is my second time watching this season again and I’m noticing how well it was actually written. Great job in particular this episode by Jennifer Salt, who is a frequent writer every season in the series.

You flush my shit, bitch.”

 


Zoe wants to find out what happened to Nan. Like we’d expect, Madison doesn’t care at all. She’s more concerned with Kyle and his sex. But then Kyle resists, he claims to love Zoe. Is there a fight brewing? Madison gets the room quaking, things flying. A lamp cracks Zoe in the back of the head. Then Myrtle shows up, a little verbal spar with Madison. All three of them – Myrtle, Kyle, Zoe – they see the threat that is Madison. Some sort of devastation is coming. Not sure, though, in which form it will come.
Over with the Axeman (Danny Huston), Fiona lounges in discontent. He seems pretty focused on being able to “give up the axe” and Fiona giving up the coven. He wants to help her sort out who is becoming the next Supreme, to kill her. No good can come of that, either.
Then up in the attic, Spalding (Denis O’Hare) appears to Delphine. He’s impressed with her, what he calls, “art.” Spalding is upset with the new alliance between Laveau and Fiona. He hates that Fiona has forgotten herself, forgotten who she’s supposed to be. A new bond is now forming between Spalding and LaLaurie. They’re forging an agreement.
More news in the house sees Queenie still growing further from the coven, now even more so due to her hating Marie, too. She doesn’t want any of Cordelia’s nice talk and they have a slight confrontation. I hope this doesn’t hurt Queenie because I do love her character, though, I can understand why she’s sort of saying fuck everyone. Nobody has been fully treating her with the respect she deserves.

 


Still, Cordelia is tough and she is a woman with a vision. Even if that vision comes at a price: her eyes. Down in the greenhouse she tries more herbal magic, but breaks down in the middle. Then, to regain her second sight, Cordelia stabs herself in the eyes with a gardening shear. She ruins her own eyeballs to find the power again. Fiona shows up worried once more about her daughter, even after shunning her previously for the debacle with Hank. But as Myrtle makes clear, she should only be worried if “harbouring bad thoughts.”
Up in the eerie attic playhouse of Spalding, he receives the item he asked for. Delphine brings him back a doll baby, which drives him to near ecstasy. Such a creepy moment, he even sniffs the thing. Very “unsavoury” in the words of Delphine.
In the basement, Myrtle gives Zoe some sort of sapphire ornament to keep. “To hawk in case of emergency,” she says. She also wants Zoe and Kyle to leave, to get away from the coven somewhere.  Myrtle warns of both Madison and Fiona, each of them with murderous intent towards any next emerging Supreme. Probably smart, really. Is being the next Supreme worth all of that deadly competition?
Harrison Renard, his right-hand David and a bunch of other suited gentleman go to meet Fiona and Marie. The two sassy women against all those unsuspecting dummies. Very calmly, Marie and Fiona talk with Harrison, who is pretty damn on edge. He offers up a century long truce. Fiona counters: “You disband this little merry troupe of assholes, vowing never to harm another witch from now until the end of time.” The ladies play with them a bit before David tries laying down the line. Fiona tells them plainly: “Then here’s my other offer: you can all just die.” After which the Axeman, tending bar unnoticed, turns and chops everyone to death, except for Harrison. Renard has a cup of coffee trying to be nonchalant, his last words being a spit and “Go to hell, witch bitch.” But Fiona has the last word, planting her man’s axe right in the side of Harrison’s neck. A beautifully gory end to their boardroom meeting.

I love you more than jazz, baby doll.”

 


At the academy, Marie is getting drunk on French 75 made by Delphine, as Fiona takes off to “hail the conquering king” who “swung a mighty axe” for them. Although, LaLaurie has other plans. She stabs Marie with a huge kitchen knife right in the chest. But a little medication and a knife are nothing compared to the Voodoo Queen. When Marie goes after Delphine, Spalding shows up and cracks Laveau over the head and sends her over the stairs. He tells Delphine to bury her and make sure she can’t dig her way out, similar to what she had done to her. Then creepy Spalding goes back to the way things were for him. Except now he has a little baby to dress up, too. So he gets in his baby outfit, puts the baby in one, and they sit in a rocking chair like two weird babies together. “Finally, a living doll all my own,” says Spalding while they rock back and forth. Wow – damn unsettling, and I dig it. Denis O’Hare is a wonderfully talented actor.

That aint magic. Thats an antihistamine.”

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-6-58-52-pmZoe has to try and convince Kyle to go with her, away from the academy. He’s afraid that he may hurt her, or someone else. He has uncontrollable feelings boiling up inside of him all the time. He doesn’t want any of that to inexplicably come out and affect the world around him. Poor FrankenKyle, he’s made up of a bunch of different parts, all warring against one another inside I’m sure. But there’s something about Zoe which calms him.
Then they’re off, running to the bus for Orlando, Florida. The future is ahead of them, bright and gleaming. Is it meant to be? We’ll see.
screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-6-59-13-pmAnother solid episode. I’m looking forward to more developments closer to the season finale in the next episode, titled “Go to Hell”. Stay tuned, friends and fellow fans!

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 6: “The Axeman Cometh”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 6: “The Axeman Cometh”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Douglas Petrie

* For a review of the previous episode, “Burn, Witch. Burn!” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Dead” – click herescreen-shot-2016-11-24-at-9-02-39-pm
This episode begins with a flash to 1919 in New Orleans. We hear the voice of Danny Huston, undeniable. He types a letter, and talks about being the titular Axeman. He tells everyone via his letter that anyone playing jazz will be safe on a specific night, everyone else will be murdered. The girls at Miss Robichaux’s Academy plan to make sure the Axeman does not kill anyone else. They’re witches, they’re tough, and plan to make their Salem ancestors proud.
No jazz plays on the street around the school. The Axeman walks through the neighbourhood, eventually making his way inside the big plantation style house. Upstairs, one of the witches listens to classical opera. The Axeman does not like that. The trap is set and all the women of the house stab him to death on the floor against the firelight.
So if he died in the house, will his spirit linger? I’m sure we’re going to find out now with new young witches boarding at the academy.
screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-9-03-34-pmZoe (Taissa Farmiga) picks around through the old belongings of Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). In the process, she finds old things belonging to the previous schools of witches, as well as a Ouija board – or a Spirit Board. First, to Nan (Jamie Brewer) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), she brings up the fact the number of witches have gone down progressively each year. Now there’s only three of them. So they make a pact over absinthe, agreeing to watch one another’s backs. The three young witches play a game with the board. Soon, they come in contact with – you guessed it – a spirit. It writes out: AXEMAN. Quickly, the whole thing is stopped by Queenie, who knows better than to mess around too hard with the board.
Fiona (Jessica Lange) is having troubles. Taking chemotherapy alongside other patients, she suddenly has the gift of mind reading, attributing it to the medication. It’s all too much for her. A doctor manages to sit her back down, but clearly Fiona does not want to do it for herself, only for Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) who actually needs her for once in a lifetime.
Zoe wants to release the Axeman in order to find out what happened to Madison. Although, nobody else is at all keen on the idea. But Zoe’s stuck on witches banding together, no matter what the consequences. She goes downstairs with the Spirit Board again, except by herself now. Dangerous things at play here. And then, she’s finding her way into the attic where Spalding (Denis O’Hare) keeps his play things: both porcelain and deceased. The air is thick with a deathly reek, dolls lining the shelves. And finally, Zoe uncovers Madison’s body. Only Spalding intercepts her.
Meanwhile, Cordelia is back at home, walking cane and glasses and all. Hank (Josh Hamilton) can’t touch her without flashes in Cordelia’s head of his infidelity; all she can see is the woman he cheated on her with. She has a “different kind of clarity,” as if she’s experiencing the memories firsthand when they come to her. Strong woman, eyes and face burned yet still not afraid to stand up for herself.
Up in the attic, the young witches interrogate the “twisted tea-serving necrophiliac” Spalding, whose arms and legs are tied to a chair. Zoe scalds his chest with a metal spatula, left over a hot burner. He boasts about his first sex was with Madison; disgusting. This whole scene is nasty, in so many ways. But a great, gritty part to a larger story.

 


Over at the camp of Misty Day (Lily Rabe), there’s a nice big flower bed planted, she’s watering it and making sure it’s tended. Underneath stirs Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy). And out of the blue, Franken-Kyle (Evan Peters) turns up, mumbling, filthy and needing a bath, scared as usual. Misty gladly takes him back in, helping him get clean. But memories of his mother come back, he trashes the place and throws things around, smashing the little music player Misty kept. Luckily, though, Zoe shows up – able to take Kyle, also needing Misty.
Zoe chains Kyle up down in the basement, and shows Misty the corpse of Madison. She wants Misty to bring the girl back to life. Although, poor Madison’s been dead for ages. Still after a bit of work, Misty and Zoe manage to pull her back from the afterlife and into the world of the living once again.
Big surprise: Hank is in cahoots with Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). His wife’s new second sight is causing problems, threatening to reveal their working relationship. We get a flashback to Cordelia meeting Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge), the one Hank killed after having sex with earlier in the season; she was, in fact, a witch. Hank’s helping to kill all the descendants of Salem, a job done in conjunction with Laveau. But now, she wants all the witch bitches dead, their heads for trophies.

 


The girls are trying to bring Madison back to consciousness. She can’t drink anything properly, even ginger ale. All she remembers from before death was a red blur, nothing more. And at the same time, Cordelia is confronted in her bedroom by none other than the Axeman himself. He wants release, he doesn’t want to be trapped inside those “four ugly walls,” not any longer. He’s been promised release by Zoe, but nothing has come yet. He is one mad jazz-man. Hearing Cordelia’s screams, Zoe, Nan and Queenie rush to help. Stupid Zoe, she’s the one who did this with her lies. Then she finds a spellbook, releasing the Axeman from the house back out onto the streets. Is this any good, at all? To have this maniac out wandering New Orleans? Especially when jazz isn’t exactly as prominent, even in the South, as it once was back in his day.
At a bar where Fiona is lamenting her illness, literally pulling off a handful of hair, the Axeman sits down for a drink. Will there be vengeance to come? And for whom?

 


Next episode is “The Dead”, directed by Bradley Buecker.

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 2: “Boy Parts”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 2: “Boy Parts”
Directed by Michael Rymer
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of the previous episode, “Bitchcraft” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Replacements” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-13-21-pm“Boy Parts” begins with Misty Day (Lily Rabe) apparently risen from the grave herself. A couple gator hunters come across her in the swamps, Steve Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” playing in the background. She’s dancing and lamenting the killing of the beautiful creatures – gators hung from the trees, gutted, being skinned. When the hunters threaten her, she brings a gator back to life and then another comes out of the swamp, so bye bye hunters. Chomp chomp. I love that she’s back already, I thought we might have to go an episode or two before Misty cropped up once more. But here she is. Lily Rabe has been a revelation since the second season and I cannot get enough. Hopefully her character has lots to do coming up.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-16-01-pmBack at Miss Robichaux’s Academy, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is waking all the girls up, readying everyone for a meeting. Poor Madison (Emma Roberts) is obviously still reeling from her gang rape, like any sensible young woman would. Then there’s Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), whose feelings for Kyle (Evan Peters) are obvious; he died, yet she knows he wasn’t a bad guy, he tried to do the right thing after he discovered what happened with his frat brothers.
Most intriguing, Fiona (Jessica Lange) has Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), fresh out of the living grave, tied and gagged in her room. What’s the rub here? I’m so interested to find out where this is headed.
Flash to Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) back in 2012, where she worked at a fried chicken place called Chubbie’s – a guy is giving her shit about not having enough pieces in his basket. Instead, she jams her hand into the boiling fat behind the counter, voodoo dolling the jackass yelling at her. Flashback to the young witches sitting around, talking to Cordelia and each other about where they came from before the academy.
Up show the police looking to talk with Madison and Zoe about their presence at the frat party. Things are getting tense. Even worse, Zoe gets awkward and nervous and breaks down, telling the police everything. And I mean EVERYTHING! Yet luckily, she is a witch. Among witches. After things go awry, Fiona struts in to undo it all with that sweet feminine magic. Or straight up devilish magic, either way it works. Then she goes back to the girls’ room, tosses Zoe and Madison at the walls and lays down the law about how things are going to go from here on in: shape up, or ship the fuck out.

I couldnt toast a piece of bread with the heat they were putting on you

To try mending Zoe’s sadness over Kyle, the usually hateful Madison has a plan to help. She takes them to the city morgue, in order to return the favour of Zoe killing the guy who raped her. In one room there are the pieces of all the guys killed in the crash. Kyle was dismembered terribly, so they’ve got to mix and match a few pieces in order to get him back together. The title of this episode “Boy Parts” comes to bear on their process, as Madison decides they’ll find the best pieces then top it all off with Kyle’s head: the ideal Ken doll.
Meanwhile, Cordelia and her husband Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton) are trying to put together their own boy, or girl – they want a baby, no matter what. However, Cordelia can’t seem to get pregnant. Her womb has troubles, for whatever reason. Hank seems supportive, but wants her to use the witchcraft to make things possible for them. Cordelia’s against it, not wanting to turn into her own mother; someone who has taken the shortcuts of life at every turn.


Finally, LaLaurie has to come to terms with what Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) did to her all those years ago.
We flash back to after Delphine first took the vial and drank it. She wakes up to find her worst fears coming true: her family is killed, while she’s been given eternal life. They were all hung. Now, Delphine is left by Laveau to spend life in a box underneath the earth, never to die. Only Fiona has dug her back up and let her free. Well, not free. She’s essentially under the slavery of the Supreme for now.
Over at the morgue, Madison and Zoe have a Kyle Frankenstein monster put together. They’re gearing up for some type of witchcraft ceremony, in which they intend to bring him back to life again. Things don’t go exactly as planned, though.
Kyle comes back to life, all right. He just doesn’t come back like he was, at all. He is more similar to Frankenstein’s monster than ever before.

Did we just barter with the Devil? ‘Cause I don’t know if I’m down with that.”

Nan’s psychic powers lead her to find LaLaurie upstairs tied in the closet, which starts a bit of chaos. First, Delphine cracks Queenie over the top of the head, knocking her out. But Fiona is across town at the home base of Marie Laveau, they’re having a bit of a head-to-head confrontation. They drop a bit of knowledge on us about shamans, necromancy, Haitian voodoo and such. Plenty of history in a few minutes of dialogue between Lange and Bassett – another classic pairing we’re able to enjoy courtesy of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk & Co. Though, the offer Fiona brings for Laveau is turned away before anything else happens. We’ll get more of this later on. Not too long afterwards, we see the Minotaur is still under care of Marie, who unchains him for “business” they have to take care of soon.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-19-05-pmCordelia and Hank are busy trying to do freaky rituals in order to get pregnant. They have kinky sex with black candles, a circle of black sand or something, and all that kind of wild stuff. Oh, and blood. I suppose being a witch can offer a bit of kink in the love life. This whole sequence is pretty creepy and full of sensual imagery. The sex, a snake egg cracks, fire ignites in the circle around them. Then as they finish, everything goes back to normal. Will it work? Who knows.
Zoe is busy rushing Kyle away from the morgue. The poor dude is having troubles, coming back to life is obviously not a walk in the park. Kyle smashes his body around in the car, as Zoe drives them off. She’s upset, trying to do her best and feeling she did the wrong thing bringing him back.
Luckily, Misty Day turns up in their backseat. She knows how to help Kyle transition back into life appropriately. Zoe brings them back to Misty’s shack, out in the swamps. Misty wipes dung all over Kyle, great healing properties she says. Leaving him with the resurrected witch, Zoe is conflicted about what ought to be done with Kyle in his newly living state; he looks monstrous, Evan Peters does such a fantastic job performing this character, amazing work.


A good conversation between Fiona and LaLaurie, as the latter laments now being above ground, her family dead and gone, everything changed and new to her completely. Lots of interesting things happening between these two. Cannot wait for more of their relationship to come out! And also just having LaLaurie’s presence around, in a day and age very far socially from where she was in the early 19th century. Exciting thematic things will unfold.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-29-31-pmThe next episode is called “The Replacements”, once again directed by series regular Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 2: “Chutes and Ladders”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 2:
 “Chutes and Ladders”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of the previous episode, “Checking In” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mommy” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-13-03-amAfter the first and at times devastating premiere episode in Hotel, “Chutes and Ladders” (definitely a reference to the original owner of the hotel based off H.H. Holmes) begins with Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson) shambling around her room. She appears to be sowing Gabriel (Max Greenfield), still alive, into a mattress. Ah, the same fate as that terrifying man from “Checking In.” It’s a disturbing moment, watching Sally push Gabriel’s face down inside the mattress.
Then we zip through the vents, down to where one of the Swedish tourists, caged in the neon contraption, is being fed on by the little blonde haired children. They’re sucking at her wrists. One of them turns away: “Yuk. Tastes gross.” Only because, as Iris (Kathy Bates) makes clear – they’re dead.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-13-20-amLiz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) brings the new fresh body into a room with Iris and ghostly maid Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) dump the body down a chute. It sails downward through the hotel, into a big basement, landing dusty on a pile of other bodies.
What’s creepiest is the white room again, where the children eat treats and play games and watch things on the massive screens – Iris filters off a bit of blood into a nice crystal decanter. Bringing it upstairs, The Countess (Lady Gaga) and Donovan (Matt Bomer), the latter trying his best to avoid his mother, have a tall glass of the red stuff. A little while afterwards, The Countess heads out to a function, not for the art but “for the hunt”. I love the way Gaga plays the character, I’m not even a fan of hers regularly yet I feel Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk did a great thing casting her in this role; just how she sort of moves through every scene, elegant and scary at once.
Dr. Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) is out giving house calls. It’s excellent how the writing incorporates our modern day issues in this season. For instance, Lowe has to deal with anti-vaccination parents. I find this a great touch, and as always there are issues brought out in American Horror Story which are absolutely prevalent in society today.
Over at the Cortez, Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) wakes up in Room 64. Everything is pretty eerie. As if out of nowhere, Miss Evers comes in asking if he needs anything. Then suddenly, a quick glimpse of the wretched, disfigured creature (that raped Gabriel in “Checking In”) standing just above Lowe’s face, steel drillbit dildo protruding out. In the shower, Lowe witnesses to dead people having sex. But then he wakes up again in bed, radio on once more.
I feel bad for John Lowe. He’s obviously scarred by the disappearance and loss of his boy Holden (Lennon Henry). The worst part of that being Holden, we know, is in the hotel. Lowe continuously sees the little boy running around the halls yet can never seem to catch up with him.


He ends up having a brief run-in with Sally and a bar-tending Liz Taylor, trying his best not to fall off the wagon. Basically in this scene, Sally makes him talk about his worst days, the hardest times of his life, and it stirs him up. Though, for now Lowe leaves. For now…
Dt. Lowe receives a package from the Cortez where he’s staying back at the station – inside is what looks like an Academy Award stained with bits of blood. Hmm.
Over at the grand Cortez Hotel, Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) has a big party happening, lots of guests such as Vogue’s Claudia Bankson (Naomi Campbell). Things seem to be bumping in the lobby with a ton of people lounging, chatting, and so on. When Sally turns up, not allowed into the party, she mysteriously eyes Lowe’s young daughter Scarlett (Shree Crooks) – perhaps another little blonde child for the Countess? I hope not, I already feel viciously bad for Dt. Lowe. He’s seen some hard times.
At the huge fashion show Drake is putting off, we’re introduced to model Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock), whose presence there is somewhat of a major draw. Of course, Duffy is a fiendish cokehead and all around playboy, walking the runway as if every single person there wants to bed him. Amazing change for Wittrock in this season, compared to his also amazing portrayal of Dandy Mott in last year’s Freak Show. Even in that first scene, from the back room to the catwalk, he is fantastic. After his disastrous walk, Drake confronts him backstage; Duffy only cuts his face with a straight razor and announces his retirement from modelling. Savage!

Hes full of rage, I can still smell it— like copper.”

Little Scarlett is taken to see something interesting by Lachlan Drake (Lyric Lennon), Will’s son. They end up in a strange room, like a pool but emptied out. He takes her down to see these strange glass coffins, where the little blonde children are sleeping. There, she sees her brother Holden who opens his eyes intensely. Spooky moment! This goes on to lead her on a bit of a journey alone.
Up in the penthouse, Duffy is scavenging for cocaine (a nice little reference to Lars Von Trier; a favourite director of mine). He’s interrupted by Donovan, they have a bit of a row. But the Countess shows up as well to stop anything further from happening, letting Duffy wander off. She’s playing a bit of catch and release, I believe, no? When former model Duffy finds himself a bit lost in the darkness of the Cortez’s shadowy corridors, things go from a little unsettling to a whole other level of madness. First, it’s a sandwich from room service he tries to eat in the hallway – it looks good to him, but after it’s in his mouth the sandwich appears rotten, full of maggots wriggling in and out of the bread.
But secondly, when Duffy goes into a room to try and look for more cocaine, or anything else, he runs into Mr. James March (Evan Peters) whose Old Hollywood charm is more than evident. It’s only after a few minutes, the situation becomes murderous. Miss Evers brings in a tied up prostitute and March orders Duffy to kill her, but he refuses. Revealing a nasty neck wound, March then kills her himself. This sends Duffy back into the darkness of the halls until he’s snatched up by the Countess herself.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-19-04-amScarlett Lowe manages to get back to the Cortez on her own. When she locates the room where Lachlan brought her during the fashion show, the coffins are open, empty. Where are the children? Are they in the sterile white room? Well, Holden is anyways. Scarlett enters and meets him, again after all this time. She shows him a picture of their family all together. She further wonders why Holden hasn’t grown up thought she has herself. Instead of being happy, though, Holden is very happy at the hotel telling her “I am home.” The kicker comes when she tries to take a picture of her and Holden, he leans in almost to bite her neck; you just know the picture will not be coming out correctly.
One of the nastier scenes comes when Scarlett runs into the hall – Sally scares her with a huge smile, a laugh, and then grinds her own teeth and gums into a bloody mess. What a freaky shot! Great, great makeup effects, as usual.

Can a bullet take me out? A silver bullet, or a stake?”
Bitch please— of course it can

The Countess has turned Tristan Duffy into a vampire like her and Donovan. They have an intense bit of sex afterwards, Tristan loving the new life of vampirism. Will this cause some tension now between these two and Donovan, between the Countess and Donovan more so? You bet your ass it will. Almost more animosity comes from Donovan towards Duffy, though. They’re the boy toys of the Countess and neither are hugely happy about them both being in contention for her attention.
We’re also privy to the rules of American Horror Story‘s vampires, such as the sun doesn’t kill but should be avoided, coffins aren’t needed as long as you’ve got nice black-out curtains, you can die though being immortal can be achieved through being smart and intelligent about how one handles the effects and responsibilities of being a vampire. This whole sequence is fucking awesome! Not only are Gaga and Wittrock incredible together chemistry-wise, we further get to hear more about the Countess, her birthdate, all the wild stuff she did back in the day, what she lived through, and more. Real good writing here that I found super intriguing!
Dt. Lowe tries to leak information out of Iris – after Scarlett returns safely, obviously her parents are livid. She gives him the lowdown on Evan Peters’ new character, James March; the original builder/owner of the hotel.
For those who don’t know, this character is hugely based on H.H. Holmes, right down to his appearance – he built a massive murder hotel, essentially, including chutes for dropping bodies, secret passages, and so much more. Here, we get a look at 1925 when James March built the hotel. Excellent, eerie scenes shot in black-and-white showing us a brief glimpse of March and his strange ideas about how the architecture of the hotel ought to be constructed. When a construction foreman asks questions about the strange design, March brings him up to this office, stabs him in the neck, then slides his body down a chute where the body heads to the basement. There was asbestos lining the walls, thick to dull out any sound, hallways which lead nowhere, plus tons of other creepily constructed torturous elements. A vicious and interesting sequence from its beginning to end. There are some savage moments, some funny ones, and lots of intensity.
Most fun of all? Room 64 is the office of James March, exactly where Lowe is staying.

Just cause Im sucking on a dude doesnt mean Im gay.”

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-21-11-amI won’t spoil all the fun. Great episode, especially the Countess and Tristan together near the finale. Could not get enough!
Look forward to the third episode, “Mommy”, directed by Bradley Buecker once more. Stay tuned for more madness, my friends!

American Horror Story – Freak Show, Episode 1: “Monsters Among Us”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 4, Episode 1: 
“Monsters Among Us”
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy

* For a review of the Season 3 Coven finale, “The Seven Wonders” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Massacres and Matinees” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-10-39-44-pmThis season begins with Sarah Paulson narrating us, her face fades in quickly. Well, one of her faces.
Our introduction to them comes in 1952 – Jupiter, Florida – when the milkman Bill Palmer (Wilson Bradford) finds mouldy looking milk bottles outside the door. Going inside, he comes to discover there’s been something awful going on, as the food is all left out, everything in disarray, and Ms. Tattler lays in a pool of her own blood. Upstairs, he comes to discover what’s been hiding in the house all these years, tucked away in secret by the old woman. Back at the hospital, we get to see the terrified look in the eyes of a nurse as a doctor lists off the internal anomalies of the person they found at the Tattler house.
Before seeing what’s been causing all the commotion, Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) shows up asking questions of a candy striper named Penny (Grace Gummer). Turns out Elsa is poking around for business purposes, she runs a traveling carnival and show of oddities. Penny, being the naughty nurse she is, helps Elsa on her way inside. Now, we finally get to discover why the hospital is in an uproar, hell – the whole town.
Another go around sees Paulson playing the twins Bette and Dot Tattler. Not only are they identical twins, they’re conjoined – rather, they’ve got two heads on a single body. They’re both highly different, though, each with their own distinct and vibrant personality. Even better than that, we as the audience get to sit in on their internal conversations and monologues, which is damn cool and will certainly serve as a unique, important device throughout the season.
Something I love about Bette/Dot is the way the visuals have started to work in “Monsters Among Us”. At various moments in any given scene, we’re treated to a split-screen technique giving us a slightly differing perspective from each of the women. It already visually sets up the tension and different feelings they have about Elsa and her ways.
While Elsa poses as a caring person to them, underneath it all she’s selfishly interested in their life, their condition, simply so they might come and work for her at the freak show.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-10-41-53-pmThe horror begins pretty savagely here in the first episode. Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) wanders out of the trees to a clearing where Bonnie Lipton (Skyler Samuels) and Troy Miller (Andrew Duplessie) are almost ready to make a little love together. Twisty is so unbelievably creepy. Part of his face is all skin and makeup, while the other parts seem glued on… or torn off. There’s bloody edges all over his skin almost mixing in with the makeup.
Pretty much you can bet he’s a bad, bad sort of clown once he hauls out a couple bowling pins and whacks the lovers in their heads.
Little nod to Lynch’s turn in David Fincher’s Zodiac, as Bonnie comes to and sees Troy being stabbed to death by this nasty clown.
More characters filter into our mind’s eye now.
First, introducing the chameleon going by the name of Evan Peters, this season taking up the role of Jimmy Darling. His initial scene gives us a bit about him, and some about Elsa. It seems their travelling carnival is in trouble, with only what’s between Ms. Mars’ legs keeping them in town and staving off the landlord. Meanwhile, she’s pissed with Jimmy – a freak in his own right at her carnival – because he’s out flaunting himself and looking to hook up with women. He wears big, heavy leather mitts on his hands. Only hinting at his character to come.
Next scene, the gloves come off; in more than one way.
At a little party full of 1950s-era housewives, ole Jimmy is the entertainment. At the back of the house, in one of the bedrooms, each of the women head to see Jimmy and his big, long lobster hands. Y’know – the better to make you cum with, my dear.
Throughout the rest of the episode we see a lot of weird, wonderfully grim and exciting stuff.
Twisty goes back to the abandoned rusty bus where he keeps a young boy whose family he killed and Bonnie Lipton. There, he terrorises them in their cage after his attempts to amuse them fail. Absolutely disturbing stuff, even more vile if you’re afraid of clowns!
Elsa further worms her way into the lives of the twins. She scares Bette – the more innocent of the two – while Dot is much more sceptical of Ms. Mars and her scheming ways. Because, as it turns out, Bette went a little mad and started to stab their mother, which led to them both becoming accomplice to the crime. So naturally, Elsa uses this to her advantage. She claims it’s to save them, when really it only benefits her in the end; after all, she holds all the power knowing the truth of what happened to their mother. Off the twins go, back to the freak show, ready to help draw in some paying customers.


So many different things happening in this first episode of Season 4. There are even more interesting characters than ever before, I think. With such a full and wide variety of characters – due to the vast freak show – it’s impressive how well Falchuk and Murphy fit so many pieces into the script.
We get a brief flashback scene to when Elsa meets Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates), a.k.a The Bearded Lady (and Jimmy’s mama). Man – just have to say it, Bates is a powerhouse of a performer. Her accent is awesome, the whole bearded look goes well, and she embodies the character like always; quality actor.
There’s also Paul the Illustrated Seal (Mat Fraser), Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin), tiny little Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge), the familiar face from Season 2 Asylum Pepper (Naomi Grossman) and another awfully termed pinhead named Salty (Christopher Neiman), and more. Very rich tapestry of characters going on already from the start.
Funny enough, the candy striper from earlier named Penny wakes up after her time with the freaks and seems to have a problem with what happened to her, saying she was “drugged and ravaged.” Although, Elsa hauls out a film of all that went on the previous night, which pretty clearly shows how much fun Penny actually had. In this scene, we get a good look at how fed up Elsa is with how she and the freaks are treated – she calls them “beautiful” and “heroic,” chastising Penny for her and her kind’s way of looking down on them and at them.
At the same time, Jimmy Darling wants to have a normal life outside of their freak show, he wants to take him and his mother away, all of them. He even expresses the desire to help the freaks get away from drowning their sorrows in alcohol, telling Ethel how there are meetings and support groups for those types of issues now. He’s obviously a caring person, more than just a guy to be labelled ‘freak’, just like the rest of them. Loving this season’s themes already beginning to branch out from this first instalment.
But a dark side comes out of Jimmy’s hopes to look after the freaks. When a cop comes poking around for Bette and Dot, wanting to take them in under arrest for murdering their mother, Jimmy cuts his throat after he continually uses the F-word (no not that one: freak).screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-10-55-21-pmFinally we’re introduced to the sickly stuck-up Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) and his doting mother Gloria (Frances Conroy). They’re a hilarious pair, decadently dressed while taking in the local show Elsa and her carnival of freaks offer up. Our initial view of them is not overly long, however, within these moments we’re also treated to Elsa and the freaks putting off their show.
Some found it strange the way Murphy incorporated music into this season. I love his explanation, though, as every artist’s music they use is someone who has identified as a type of ‘freak’ over the years. For instance, we continually get Elsa singing Bowie, so it’s not hard to see his outsider status; later we’ll get other musicians like that, even a bit of Nirvana. Great sequence in this episode with seeing/hearing Jessica Lange performing David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?”, as the freaks play instruments in the background. Amazing stuff to kick this season into full gear.
My favourite part is the end of the episode when Elsa takes off her wooden legs for the night, slowly rolling down her socks, undressing. Very powerful scene. Now we understand a little more perhaps why Elsa is hardened and vicious and ruthless at times. As “Auf Weidersehn, Sweetheart” by Vera Lynn plays, the episode finishes on Elsa’s sad, tragic face. We’ll see where she and the rest of these characters take us in the second episode.

They wanna call us monsters, fine— well act like monsters.”

Dig the music in this season even more than any other before it. There’s a great quality to it with an almost 1950s sci-fi sound at certain points. It’s full of strings that sweep from one end of the spectrum to the next, so beautifully and at the same time in an eerie sense. I also can’t shake the weird electronic heartbeat-type sound, it comes out with the strings and it’s like a pulse beneath all the other sounds. At first you almost think it sounds out of place, then after some time the noise grows on you and morphs into the rest of the sonic wall. Score and soundtrack have been a big thing since the first season, but Season 4 in particular really has it down pat. Can’t wait to see how the aesthetic overall works in this season as the episodes go on.


Next episode is titled “Massacres and Matinees”, directed by series regular Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

American Horror Story – Asylum, Episode 11: “Spilt Milk”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 2, Episode 11:
 “Spilt Milk”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Brad Falchuk

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Name Game” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Continuum” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-36-32-pmThe beginning of this aptly titled episode, “Spilt Milk”, gives us one of the more disturbing bits this season. Johnny Morgan (Dylan McDermott), a.k.a young Bloody Face, has a prostitute come over to his place and breastfeed him. I mean, did Oliver (Zachary Quinto) pass everything on, or did he pass everything on? God damn. To each their own, but compounded with the fact Johnny likes to murder people, particularly he’s got a problem with women, he’s also got a breast milk fetish, a fixation. All in all, he is one awfully messed up dude.
Great, nasty open to one of the final trio of episodes left in Season 2 Asylum!
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-36-55-pmKit Walker (Evan Peters) is continually being manipulated, still, by Dr. Thredson. Kit gets to go see Grace (Lizzie Brocheré) and his newborn baby, Thomas, though it’s not long. Even more than that, poor Pepper (Naomi Grossman) gets to talk but she doesn’t get much else, ushered off at Thredson’s orders for some archaic hydrotherapy, y’know – 1960s style.
So while Kit, Grace and their boy get to have a little time together, a slight few rays of happiness, there is still darkness cast over everything. Most of that is Thredson, trying to grasp onto anything which will allow him more power.
Then there’s the fact Grace was taken away, somehow brought back to life. She saw the “bright lights” we all hear about so often. But these lights were different, they were those creatures, the alien life forms. She came back pregnant with Kit’s child.
There’s an amazingly trippy sequence where Grace floats in this empty darkness, also in a pool of water. It’s creepy and sort of has this wide, isolated feeling, like she was just lost in nowhere. Brief few shots yet highly effective and interesting.
Oh, and Kit proposed pretty suddenly. That happened. Right before Monsignor Howard (Joseph Fiennes) shows up with Sister Colette (Tacey Adams) who intends to take the baby to a home for lost children. Thredson turns up for a little gloating, just to rub it in Kit’s face.
Mother Superior Claudia (Barbara Tarbuck) surprises Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) with documentation of everything on record that happened to her while at Briarcliff. The faithful nun, listening to what Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) had told her previously, helps Lana to get out of the asylum; into a cab and speeding away.


Love the split-screen sequence here, as Thredson and Kit talk while Lana comes down the stairs on her way to escape with Mother Superior. It’s great how Kit helps Lana, in their silent understanding in passing; the double shot of Lana’s face is perfect. Nothing beats the moment when Thredson sees Lana in the cab, tape of the confessions against the window and middle finger to boot.
This leads directly to a scene between the two, back at Oliver’s place where Lana is waiting, police on the way. Brilliant acting from both Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto – tense and nastily fun moments abound.
There’s an amazing cut (which could’ve easily been done naturally with connected sets) taking us through to the present again where Johnny Morgan sucks on the prostitute’s milky breast, coming off with a mouthful. Another cut returns us to Thredson’s living room. Just downright excellent filmmaking on television (can I say that? you know what I fucking mean). This whole section, back and forth from past to present, it really makes the scene between Oliver and Lana become even more weighty, the intensity bearing down on us until – BAM!… I won’t ruin it for you, if you’ve yet to see it.


With Ms. Winters out, Briarcliff gets hammered with vicious criticism in the papers and comes under scrutiny for employing Bloody Face. At the same time, Monsignor Howard is having trouble keeping Jude quiet as she raves at him, stuck there rotting as a patient – better yet, inmate. She is disgusted with his refusal to accept the sin he committed, giving his flesh to the devil in (the now dead) Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe). He can’t take it anymore.
It’s terribly tragic the lengths to which Howard goes to in order to secure his job, his life, his so-called legacy. I’m not going to spoil this either, so later in the episode near the end this will play out: be prepared for sadness.
Best of all, though, in the scuffle at the asylum after Lana breaks her story: Kit is able to leave and go free. Furthermore, he uses the death certificate made out for Grace (by Arden when she’d been presumed dead) to secure her release from Briarcliff; they also manage to get their son back and find a way to be a family.
Back at the old Walker homestead, Kit and Grace bring their boy home to a messy, beat up place from long before when Kit was thrown in the asylum. Regardless, they’re happy to be away from all the madness.
Or are they? Turns out Alma Walker (Britne Oldford) is back. Even better than that: she has a baby.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-38-46-pmSpeaking of babies, Lana has tracked down a woman willing to help perform an abortion on her, to get rid of the evil spawn inside her. She explains her situation, gets herself prepared for the procedure… but just can’t do it.
No more death,” Lana says.
Naturally we had to expect this, as Johnny Morgan – Bloody Face II – has already shown up in the present time frame. Though, it is a truly full-blooded horror scene. Great psychological stuff going on, perfect editing with quick and appropriately disorienting cuts.screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-41-21-pmThe end of the episode is highly fitting, returning us to Johnny Morgan’s problem with women, his longing for a breast on which to feed, as Lana begrudgingly lets baby Johnny suckle at her own for milk; all the while clenching her fists, hating each moment. So there’s an incredible cyclical movement to this episode, I love it.
The next episode is “Continuum”, the penultimate episode of Season 2 Asylum, and is directed by Craig Zisk (credits include ShamelessNip/TuckNYPD BlueWeeds, and much more).
Stay tuned for the next one back here at FatherSonHolyGore!

American Horror Story – Asylum, Episode 6: “The Origins of Monstrosity”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 2, Episode 6: “The Origins of Monstrosity”
Directed by David Semel (HannibalThe Strain)
Written by Ryan Murphy

* For a review of the next episode, “Dark Cousin” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode “I Am Anne Frank: Part II” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-09-59-pm“The Origins of Monstrosity” begins as a voice tells a 9-11 operator there are bodies at Briarcliff to be found. This may be the answer to when we saw a present day Bloody Face attack the young men in Bloody Face masks. I know the voice already, but won’t spoil it. We’ll wait and see together, shall we? Either way, it’s good to know the character of present day Bloody Face – whoever that may be as we’ve recently discovered Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) is the true original 1960s Bloody Face – will be handled by a fun actor.
Sister Jude Martin (Jessica Lange) meets a a woman named Mrs. Reynolds (Amy Farrington), whose daughter Jenny (Nikki Hahn) is brought in after suspicion she may have terrible, violent issues. Jenny’s mother discovered a lock of hair in daughter’s belongings: it’s the hair of a friend Jenny supposedly saw murdered; the little girl tells of a man who killed her friend, telling her to stand perfectly still or else she would be, too. Yet there’s obviously something sinister about little Jenny Reynolds. Jude tells her, there is no children’s ward at Briarcliff unfortunately.screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-10-14-pmMeanwhile, back at chez Thredson, Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) wakes up to croque-monsieur frying on the stove. At first it’s nice, until she realizes again where she is; chez Bloody Face. He serves up the sandwich saying it’s the “perfect mommy snack.”
What becomes clear through his discussion is the fact Oliver has mommy issues. Oh yes. He’s got problems with women. He has been searching for a woman, a mother, as the one he had at birth abandoned him to the system where only his “basic needs were met.”
Oliver “Bloody Face” Thredson dubs Lana THE ONE. He recounts his sordid history with the female body, his “breakthrough” as he calls it coming after encountering a luring woman in medical school; except this woman was dead, cold, on a colder metal slab. This is one DISTURBING scene, which I love. It’s straight up Ed Gein, but adapted Ed Gein; if he were a scholar instead of a farmboy with no education. This is Bloody Face, instead of Leatherface – a maniac, yet a calculated, intelligent, damaged maniac.
Also love how we get a dose of Psychology 1000, as Dr. Thredson talks about rhesus monkeys and their attachment to the cloth of a simulated mother monkey, the skin essentially. This relates to his love, his need, for the feel of warm skin on his surrogate mother.
Sam Goodman (Mark Margolis) calls Sister Jude, who tells him not to worry anymore, she was wrong. In direct opposition, Mr. Goodman informs her the fake Anne Frank (Franka Potente) was right: Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) was in fact, IS in fact, Dr. Hans Gruber, a former Nazi and member of the S.S. In shock, Jude asks what can be done; she must be a fingerprint in order to confirm for sure, then they can move ahead.
This will set off serious repercussions. Eventually.


As Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) goes to the hospital in order to see a dying Shelley (Chloë Sevigny), we get an incredible flashback explaining perfectly the wonderful title of this episode, “The Origins of Monstrosity”.
The first meeting between Dr. Arthur Arden and Monsignor Howard, several years prior, occurs as the latter is first moving in to the building. Arden introduces him to his ideas – he claims to be developing some kind of ultimate, super vaccine that would stave off even the most serious, deadly illness and viruses should humans be subject to them. This is a perfectly grim example – his wanting to do human trials – of the Nazi doctors and their insane ideas of eugenics, et cetera. The stuff going on between Howard and Arden, both in present day and the flashback scenes, goes to show how serious of a mess Howard has gotten himself into, allowing Arden to basically have free run of Briarcliff in order to further his “work“, if it can be called that.
Now there’s a real, palpable tension between the doctor and Monsignor Howard. Of course, there’s a terrifying aspect to Arden. Not only is he a tall and imposing figure, he is a sinister man. Furthermore, now we know through other events going on simultaneously HE IS A NAZI! He was in the death camps, just as the fake Anne Frank discovered somehow. This is scary enough. But then he has to go and show Howard more of his other work, the latest being on local tough inmate and pervert Spivey (Mark Consuelos). Savage, just as was done to Shelley. More supposedly in the name of the human race; yeah right, Nazi.
Saucy little scene between the devilish – or straight up Satan – Sister Mary Eunice McKee (Lily Rabe) and the equally devilish little girl Jenny, whose mother left her at Briarcliff and ran.
What we get here, though, is a heartbreaking flashback retro filmed scene as Mary Eunice recounts a story of when a bunch of girls tricked her into going naked under her robe then stripping, jumping into the pool; so sad and it made my heart both break and ACHE for her. At the same time, the devil is inside Mary. Right up in there. She’s both actively bad, as well as bad via extension, playing her influence over the young, impressionable, and pretty much evil little Jenny.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-11-31-pmThe tension between Monsignor Howard and Dr. Arden – more so Howard’s worry he’ll be caught out helping Arden – has led the Monsignor to removing Sister Jude from her position at Briarcliff. She knows it is Arden whose influence is turning Howard, which we know. But the childish and misguided Howard, worried for his own sake, sends her off anyways. I actually feel bad for Jude, no matter how bad she’s been on her own, because this is all out of her hands. She knows the truth about Arden above all else. Worse, Howard is being manipulated. Even more than that, the devil in Sister Mary Eunice is working full-time.
Kit Walker (Evan Peters) uses his one phone call to ring up Thredson. Naturally, it’s the worst time for Oliver; he’s got Lana downstairs, trying to escape. We can see a bit of the breaks at his seams, the little boy in Oliver escaping from time to time. Kit knows there’s something wrong with it all, he realizes now Dr. Thredson lured him into confessing on tape, falsely, then gave it to the police.
Sadly for Lana, getting all worked up has Oliver feeling crazier once he discovers her sweating, her pulse is rocketing, and she’s been trying to escape. Or as he sees it, trying to abandon him. Oh those MOMMY ISSUES! They’re a real bitch, at times. Pretty damn bad when you’re a psychopathic killer who wears the skin of women for a mask, teeth, hair, the whole she-bang-a-bang.
AMAZING SCENE with Lily Rabe. Sister Mary Eunice sings and dances in a red negligee she stole out of Jude’s dresser along to “You Don’t Own Me” performed by Lesley Gore. The best part, surprisingly, is not seeing the beautiful Rabe, but it’s the fact the devil inside is raging, singing the lyrics right at the cross on the wall.
As Sister Jude gets a useable fingerprint from an unsuspecting Arden, unfortunately Mr. Goodman reached Mary Eunice on the phone – pretending to be Jude.


At Goodman’s hotel later, Jude finds him with his throat cut, blood everywhere, now the jig is up. On the bathroom floor she pulls close to him and he tells her it was one of her nuns. BAM!
Simultaneously, Sister Mary Eunice, or Satan – whatever – brings all the research Goodman had back to Arden. She also kept some stuff for backup, in case Arthur decides to turn around and double cross her. This is the first time we see him BLOW UP, the Nazi Aryan piece of shit in him exploding in front of us as he rants to Mary about the “money grubbing Jews”. I mean, whoa, Arden! I knew you were a Nazi, but that was… direct. At least for his sake he’s got Sister Mary Eunice, whose devilish side loves the doctor and his own evil ways.
Then there’s Jenny, whose latest situation involves another dead girl. Naturally influenced by Sister Mary, as well. What a bad, bad nun she is. I love this little subplot, having a creepy little kid – pays homage greatly to some of the killer kid films from the 1950s-70s era. Lots of disturbing bits of fun in here.
Worse and worse is the situation for Lana. Dr. Bloody Face is crawling on top of her, ready to cut in and have some fun. A flashback reveals when he first saw her as fit to be MOM, back when Kit Walker – supposedly Bloody Face – had been brought into Briarcliff.
But the kicker is when Oliver says “Baby needs colostrum“, which is downright sickening and twisted. Blew me away in a terrifying way. He sucks on Lana’s breast and it trips me out. Yuck.


Very end sees the police in present day show up to Briarcliff, as they find a phone – current day Bloody Face, whomever he may be, tells them he’s up to no good.
In fact, he’s got Teresa Morrison (Jenna Dewan Tatum) captive – Leo’s (Adam Levine) wife from the framing narrative beginning at the season’s start – and who knows where they are, or what exactly he’s doing with her.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-14-14-pmLooking forward to reviewing the next episode, “Dark Cousin” directed by Hannibal regular Michael Rymer, an excellent television director as of late. Stay tuned for that one, should be another creepy chapter in the Briarcliff diary!

American Horror Story – Asylum, Episode 2: “Tricks and Treats”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 2, Episode 2: “Tricks and Treats”
Directed by Bradley Buecker (GleeThe New Normal)
Written by James Wong

* For a review of the previous episode, “Welcome to Briarcliff” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Nor’easter” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-37-22-pmWe begin “Tricks and Treats” directly after the end of the previous episode, as Teresa Morrison (Jenna Dewan Tatum) crosses – apparently – Bloody Face in the tunnels below the asylum. Her husband Leo (Adam Levine), meanwhile, is bleeding out from a torn off arm. This part is savage, as Bloody Face stabs Leo to death in front of Teresa, who is hiding inside one of the cells.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-38-26-pmThe editing and sound design here is perfect! Bloody Face’s banging on the cell door goes from present day back to 1964, as a knock on the door from trick or treaters comes outside Wendy Peyser’s (Clea DuVall) house. Perfect little moment. Wendy has signed Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) into Briarcliff and now feels terribly about it.
Sadly for Wendy, though, another figurative knock on the door comes later. She lights up a joint, plays a record, but once she’s out and drying off there’s someone else inside with her: Bloody Face. In a tragic scene, she pleads with him because the kids she teaches “wont understand.” Bloody Face cares not about the plight of women, nor schoolteachers, and he hacks at her before the opening credits roll. I thought this sequence was so well-written, designed, and executed! Just one of the many instances where all the aspects of filming – the shots, the sound, the acting, the dialogue – come together to make a perfect set of scenes. Watching this over now for what might be the 3rd or 4th time around since Asylum first aired, I’m noticing so many of the little things which passed me by the first time around.
Poor Lana Winters is slowly becoming acclimated to her surroundings at Briarcliff.
We’re meeting more of everyone now from Pepper (Naomi Grossman) to Shelley the resident nymphomaniac (Chloë Sevigny). Everyone gets a little bit of time here and there.
Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) has problems with Lana; the feisty reporter has been keeping notes on the ill treatment at Briarcliff. Ms. Winters even threatens Jude by saying she doesn’t need the notes because she has a great memory. Jude plans to have Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) use the 1960s version of electroshock therapy – barbaric compared to anything used today – in order to scorch the memories out of her brain cells. The worst part is that Jude also has prejudice against Lana because of her homosexuality, so it’s disturbing enough to see her have Lana shocked as it is, but coupled with her not wanting any information to escape the walls of Briarcliff the fact she does not like lesbians/gays makes it all a bit more unsettling. This is further how Ryan Murphy and the writers of American Horror Story begin to explore issues during the 1960s surrounding homosexuality and the social stigma which then went along with it.

 


Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) shows up in “Tricks and Treats”. There’s a ton of great stuff involving Thredson. First, there’s the immediate situation between Thredson and his new patient Kit Walker (Evan Peters), accused of the Bloody Face killings. Secondly, Thredson gives us a window further into the psychological practices of doctors in the 1960s; some of what they did under the guise of helping patients was downright primitive, uncivilized pseudoscience masquerading as scientific truth. What’s even more interesting is the fact that Quinto himself is a gay man, so I think it’s interesting what he’s able to explore through the character of Thredson, who deals significantly with Lana Winters further into the season in regards to her homosexuality. I won’t go too much into this now. I’ve seen these seasons, over and over, so I’ll wait until my review to flesh it all out.
At the same time Thredson represents a bit of misguided psychology, he also represents a more loud voice of reason than any of the clergy employed at Briarcliff. It’s still funny, though, as he rages at Sister Jude for allowing electroshock therapy to be used as treatment for homosexuality; in the same breath he points out that behaviour modification is “the current standard” versus her “barbaric” ways. Always love how period piece shows now in hindsight can dissect so many of the issues, as well as hypocrisies, surrounding the social and cultural climate of those times in which they’re set.
Another thing I love in “Tricks and Treats” is the inclusion of a patient whose parents believe something has “taken over” his body. This is a case of exorcism, which serves more than just the purpose of a brief subplot; you’ll come to see how later in this episode. When a young man named Jed Potter (Devon Graye) is brought in by his parents (Andrew Rothenberg & the fabulous Robin Weigert of Deadwood fame), Sister Jude reluctantly agrees to let Dr. Thredson sit in on a meeting. After they first meet Jed, though, Jude advises Thredson it is not medication the boy needs, but something else entirely.
Found that The Exorcism of Emily Rose and the true story behind it was absolutely an influence on the flashback to when Jed’s father found him in the barn, ripping open an animal. Not huge on that film, but I do enjoy tales of supposedly true exorcisms; I’m a sceptic, however, I do find the prospect of such things being true real exciting and dark and weird. The quick flash we see of the barn is creepy and subtle.
Lots of other stuff going on, as well.
Shelley tries to seduce Dr. Arden for privileges; I love the character Shelley because she represents another horribly misguided idea from the 1960s, which still resonates today, about the ideas men have concerning how women ought to act sexually compared to how they’re allowed to act in the eyes of society. I feel downright terrible for Shelley, and Chloë Sevigny plays her incredibly! In real life, Sevigny is a bit of a trainwreck I find, some of her interviews are madness; that doesn’t change the fact she is a terrific actor in every project I’ve seen her do.
At the same time, Grace (Lizzie Brocheré) is starting to help Lana Winters in an attempt to hopefully escape. Though, Lana does not want Kit to come, which is a stipulation imposed on her by Grace. Kit involves himself all the same; we pretty much know he’s innocent, not for sure but we think, yet Lana believes him to be Bloody Face. She doesn’t trust him, yet he tries to help her by grabbing a note she’d written in order to save her from the guards. We’ll see where that goes by episode end.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-40-11-pm
The exorcism section of “Tricks and Treats” is damn eerie, all the way home. I like the little introduction to Father Malachi (John Aylward), as he gives a classic line (seen above). Even better is the exorcism scene itself because the demon inside young Jed Potter says some WILD stuff! It’s entertaining, intense, and all at once quite disturbing.
Jed, or the demon inside, begins spewing secrets about the inner lives of the clergy present, as well as Dr. Oliver Thredson – an interesting comment about him being given up obviously foreshadows backstory elements for his character. But the best is when Sister Jude Martin steps into the room with Jed, after Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) urges her to help.
The demon knows all about Jude, about her past life before becoming a nun and a wife of Christ. It’s revealing and also sad, because we can see how clearly Jude tries to run from her past. Still, it always keeps on catching up with her. Love the red dress she wears in the flashback to her life before the convent and Briarcliff; parallels her red lingerie under the habit so well, shows how she still hangs on. Even further, the demon talks about a night when Jude hit a young girl with her car – drunk off her ass. Jude never got out, only went on over the road. It’s a wild scene that speaks volumes.
Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) has a nice dinner planned at home. Not only for himself, but a guest arrives: a young prostitute (Jenny Wade). It’s a chilly scene, as Arthur almost looms over and around her. He’s given her a fake name; she calls him Stan over and over. He clearly has ideas about what a woman ought to be. When the prostitute talks about a “big cock,” he looks utterly repulsed. He starts talking about how unsafe it must be for women on the streets such as herself with Bloody Face about. Though cheekily he says now the culprit is locked up and the girl is safe once more – all the while, he carves up some rare, bloody pot roast with a long, gleaming sharp knife. Ominous the way he handles the knife throughout the scene, especially at this point. Even the poor prostitute reads between the lines; you can just about her the GULP in her throat.
“Tricks and Treats” is one of my favourite episodes because it contains SO MUCH information and plot movement, as well as character development. Above all, I think my absolute favourite scene is when Jed Potter finally succumbs to the demon/sickness inside him and goes into cardiac arrest. Then the essence of evil inhabiting him releases – Jed eyes Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) standing in the back of the room while Dr. Thredson and Monsignor Howard try to help the boy – and she falls backwards to the floor, fainting.
The demon may have found itself a new vessel.
Creepily, Dr. Arden has his prostitute guest dress up in a nun’s habit. I mean, is it hard to tell he has a thing for Sister Mary Eunice? Earlier he fed the nun a caramel apple, he’s always around her, getting her help feeding the things in the forest.
The prostitute dressed like a nun in his room goes a little too far by picking through Arden’s things. She finds some strange pictures and a small fetish magazine. Unsettling things, of a violent nature. This sets up a moment where we’re sure Arden is going to dispatch the young lady. Luckily for her, she bites her way out and gives the naughty doctor a knee in his groin, escaping alive. Unfortunately for Dr. Arden, this might come to pose a few problems down the line somewhere.

 


When Sister Mary Eunice comes to, she is slightly different than before. Still the same sweet lady in a sense, but behind those eyes lies newly discovered knowledge; a deep, dark well full of it.
Love how she covers up for Dr. Arden, playing the fool, and then when he leaves she flicks the blankets off her body in an almost disgusted gesture. At the same time, the crucifix on the wall shakes. Dig that moment so hard!
Grace tries to help Kit escape with her and Lana, but the reporter pulls the plug: still believing Kit to be Bloody Face, she won’t allow him to make it out and terrorize any other women. After they’re caught, Sister Jude gives Lana a reward – of not being punished and having to watch the punishment (bare assed caning) of Kit and Grace. A twisted view into the corporal punishment ideals of Sister Jude Martin. Plus, it amps up the tension in the relationships between all these characters – Sister Jude & Alana, Kit & Sister Jude, Kit & Grace, Grace & Alana. Should be great to see all these dynamics further expand throughout the season.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-45-04-pmAwesome episode. One of my favourites of Season 2, as well as overall in the entire series of American Horror Story. Then again, while some aren’t huge on this season, I think this is one of my top 3 overall so far.
Stay tuned for more horrific and wild episodes. Next one is titled “Nor’easter”, directed by series regular Michael Uppendahl whose other work includes Mad MenShamelessRay Donovan, and much more.

American Horror Story – Asylum, Episode 1: “Welcome to Briarcliff”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 2, Episode 1: “Welcome to Briarcliff”
Directed by Bradley Buecker (The New NormalGlee)
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of the next episode, “Tricks and Treats” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-22-30-pmThe beginning of Season 2 is a lot of fun because, as opposed to Season 1 where we’d get decades old flashbacks from 1968, 1922, and so on, the main action of Asylum is taking place in 1964. However, we get to jump forward, as well as back a bit, and the framing narrative of the season itself takes place in current day. This seems a bit confusing what I’ve said, but as the episodes wear on you’ll really get a feel of what’s happening. In fact, the present day framing device isn’t exactly very clear until a few episodes in. But once it starts to become clear, the wide and reaching sprawl of Season 2 becomes apparent and it makes the episodes all the better for it.
Beginning in present day, we see Leo and Teresa Morrison (Adam Levine/Jenna Dewan Tatum) on their horror honeymoon – they plan on visiting the twelve most haunted places in America, plus they want to have sex in all the buildings because y’know, they’re wild. Only when they arrive at the infamous Briarcliff Asylum there is more inside the walls than they’d bargained for, and certainly there is nothing sexy about the madness, the pain, the mayhem and murder that is trapped inside that building.
Things really kick off when Leo sticks his hand into one of the cells with his cellphone, trying to get a night vision look at anything terrifying inside. Then, something comes at him and tears his arm off. Blood everywhere. INCREDIBLE! Turns out Bloody Face may actually be real, not just an old, outdated tale of murder from the haunted houses of America.
This moment kicks off Asylum incredibly well. It offers up enough of that psychosexual horror mashup we’re used to from the series, and so it’s already clear this season should follow suit with all the dark terrors of the first; maybe even more.screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-24-36-pmWhat I really enjoy about the opener to Season 2 is how the entire aesthetic of the first season holds over. It’s more evident than even most regular tv series’ are with their style. As an anthology, there’s always a risk each season might either fall short or overshadow its predecessor. While certain seasons of American Horror Story are most certainly better than others, I think what helps them all glue together and what allows each of them to still be excellent, regardless of the others before or after, is the fact the cinematography, the editing, the score, it all compounds into a beautifully evident overall style.
So then we switch back to our main narrative of 1964.
First, we meet Kit Walker (Evan Peters). He’s a young, handsome man just getting by in the mid ’60s, working at a gas station and garage somewhere out in the boonies. At home, his wonderful wife Alma (Britne Oldford) waits for her husband. Unfortunately, in that time the Walkers had to remain underground with their relationship because interracial relationships were still frowned upon. We already get a threatening atmosphere from Kit’s friend Billy (Joe Egender) and a group of guys who show up at the station, giving Kit a very unwelcome feeling concerning his wife at home; a reference to chocolate becomes not so much racist as it feels scary.
But it’s not Billy and the boys Kit needs to worry about protecting himself, and his wife Alma, from ultimately. Lights flicker and the power goes off, on, the bedroom radio is on the fritz; things are not right. Then Kit seems to experience some kind of contact with… something. He thinks it’s Billy with some others, but it is far worse.
I thought this scene was awesome. So often the alien abduction angle is attempted in film and television, yet it’s not often things are treated correctly. Kit experiences something Other-ly. We only see it briefly, in a few flashes; sound design and visuals weave together creating an excellent moment. We know it’s aliens, but at the same time there’s none shown onscreen. Perfect.
Next we follow journalist Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) into Briarcliff, as she heads to meet Sister Jude Martin (Jessica Lange) concerning the bakery at the asylum. Along the way we’re introduced to an interesting new character out of Season 2, Pepper (Naomi Grossman) – the nun, Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), who accompanies Lana through her visit says that Pepper drowned her sister’s baby and sliced its ears off. Chilling, because Pepper seems so innocent; strange looking yet truly child-like and innocent looking.


Lana meets with Jude for a brief time, however, up shows the apparent newly caught Bloody Face – he is being admitted to the asylum until the lawmakers decide if he is fit to stand trial. This is the whole reason Lana Winters showed up in the beginning, under false pretences about the asylum’s bakery.
What’s most surprising is when we’re introduced to who the alleged Bloody Face killer is: Kit Walker. He’s lead in, chained from head to toe, then treated to the 1960s psychiatric hospital admittance – delousing powder, a shower by way of fire hose, then a good dose of intravenous drugs via syringe. Plus, after a bad meeting with Sister Jude, he’s even given a bit of capital punishment in the form of Jude’s favourite method – caning across the bar ass.
Already now with Kit especially, we’re treated to a look at how Briarcliff operates, and the sort of cruelty all around we’re bound to experience as Asylum wears on.
There are a ton of characters again this season. Probably even more than the first. What I like is that there are plenty characters, but the most important ones are singled out for us and we’re given a big view of them here in “Welcome to Briarcliff”. Of course, more come into play later. This is just a wonderful introduction to so many of the characters, as well as the sort of thematic elements we’re going to see come up over and over.
Kit briefly meets a woman named Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré), also an inmate at the asylum, who takes a liking to him. She helps him a little, from exposing him to the way the hospital works, to giving him a cigarette while he’s wrongly thrown into solitary confinement. This is one relationship, while brief here in the opening episode, that will expand in later episodes and eventually become a big part of the latter half of Season 2.
The character whom I find most interesting in Asylum is the ominous Dr. Arthur Arden (fantastically played by James Cromwell). First off, there’s a palpable tension between Arden and Sister Jude. I love how this second season has brought together Jessica Lange and James Crowmwell. Not enough older actors are given such incredible material as American Horror Story to explore through character; here, we get two downright iconic actors, in my opinion, chewing on luscious scenery and intense character scene after scene.
Immediately in this episode, Arden and Jude are set as complete opposites. There’s something sinister about Arden off the bat, as his scene with Jude is intercut with creepy shots of a bowl of meat being gnawed on and thrown empty into the corner of a room. It’s dark stuff and I think lets us in on his evil backstory right away without hesitation. Also, while we come to discover Jude is a little less than holy herself in more ways than one, Arden comes off quickly to us as being a foreboding presence; not only physically, as Cromwell himself is massive, but in the whole way he acts, speaks, sounds.
Now we’re already seeing how unholy Sister Jude is underneath that black habit. Preparing for her dinner with the younger Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes), we can see Jude put on a blood red sex of lingerie, rubbing oil on her skin before getting dressed. She cooks dinner for the Monsignor, and even as they talk you can tell Sister Jude feels something – more – for the man. This little insight into Jude automatically makes her a conflicted character, as much as anyone else in Asylum. At first, Monsignor Howard seems on the up and up himself; we’ll see how true that holds as we move on through the season.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-31-38-pmGreat dreamy sequence here. Sister Jude imagines herself unbuttoning the habit, revealing her lingerie and sitting in the Monsignor’s lap, embracing him. Then she snaps back to their dinner and all is normal. Once more, like Season 1, that psychosexual feeling worms its way through the characters, the dialogue, the scenes.
Furthermore, Dr. Arden has his hooks in poor, fragile little Sister Mary Eunice. The bad doctor has her bringing buckets out into the woods, obviously to feed something; we don’t know what as of yet, though.
In the forest, Sister Mary is confronted by Lana Winters who is looking for a way inside the asylum. She wants an inside scoop. Scared and worried Jude may find out she was out there, Sister Mary brings Lana inside. This sets into motion something unstoppable and terrifying.
At the same time, Dr. Arden comes for Kit in his cell, injecting him in the neck with something and proclaiming: “You dont belong in here.” If I were Kit, I’d be awful worried. There’s nothing good about the feeling Arden produces as soon as he’s onscreen.
Kit’s story of “little green men“, as Jude calls it, comes back into play. Arden doesn’t know it right away, but he’s becoming drawn into a web of extraterrestrial technology. He believes it’s government work at first. Slowly it all will be revealed.
Worst of all, though, is the situation of Lana Winters. She’s found a way into the asylum, but in a time long before any professionalism found its way into the psychiatric world – especially the ones run by the Roman Catholic Church – she also finds herself in a terrible place once getting knocked out, poking about one of the cells. When she wakes up, Sister Jude has Lana strapped into a hospital bed, ready for treatment. Using Lana’s relationship with Wendy Peyser (Clea DuVall) – a lesbian relationship far ahead of the social times unfortunately – Sister Jude is able to have Ms. Winters officially committed, blackmailing Wendy into signing documents or else her homosexuality be revealed to the school where she teaches.
I love how American Horror Story is able to take on LGBTQ issues through a horror landscape. Something I’m a big fan of. It isn’t preachy in any way, it’s a very intriguing view and perspective into the gay issues facing us even today. But especially, with the 1964 main storyline, the whole aspect of having Lana and Wendy as a lesbian couple really goes head-on at how society treated homosexuality even just 50 years ago. Lots more where that came from! It gets better in further episodes, especially once Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) is introduced to help the patients.


Some awesome little references to other films I want to discuss briefly:
A Clockwork Orange – Kit hooked up to the eye-opening equipment of Dr. Arden with blue & red bulbs attached to a strap across his forehead. Very cool homage to Stanley Kubrick’s horrifying classic.
The Silence of the Lambs – Spivey throws semen in the face of Sister Mary Eunice just as Multiple Miggs did to Clarice Starling in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Awesome ending to this episode, as we see Teresa (Dewan Tatum) in present day trying to escape Briarcliff and get her husband Leo (Levine) some help. She runs down through the tunnels below, where Dr. Arden spends quite a bit of time this season, and then before the episode cuts she runs into – Bloody Face? It appears so, even decades after his reign of terror.
But we’ll learn much more about that later.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-35-28-pmNext episode is titled “Tricks and Treats”, directed by Bradley Buecker again. I like that, helps keep the initial two episodes in a cohesive unit and sort of moulds everything together off the chopping block.
Stay tuned for more horror, sex, and all around savagery!!

American Horror Story – Murder House, Episode 7: “Open House”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 1, Episode 7: “Open House”
Directed by Tim Hunter (River’s Edge)
Written by Brad Falchuk

* For a review of the previous episode, “Piggy Piggy” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Rubber Man” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-49-21-pmNice open from when Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) and Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare) were together, living in Murder House amongst their dark bliss. Constance tells him to do it, like he said he would. First, I thought it would be the first we know eventually burns Larry. However, he heads upstairs to their son Beau who lives in the attic. He’s terribly deformed, something is wrong with him beyond a mere disability; he looks similar to Victor Crowley in Adam Green’s modern slasher Hatchet. Then, as papa Larry tells him it’s time for bed, instead of a gentle goodnight poem for Beau, his father instead chokes/smothers him to death.
screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-49-32-pmIn present day, Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) is trying hard as she can to sell off Murder House. Marcy (Christine Estabrook), the real estate agent, isn’t quite cutting it, but mostly it’s the history of the house putting things into chaos. Joe Escandarian (Amir Arison) has shown up to see the place; he’s a sleazy land developer type, more interested in the young looking Moira (Alexandra Breckenridge) than the house itself. He only wants to turn it all into a block of complexes, apartments or some other such development.
Of course, any work like that might pose a problem for the ghosts of the house. As well as anyone else involved with them, attached, anyone family to the deceased who are left roaming around the property of the house. Then they’d be stuck in some big complex, forced to live with others instead of able to stay around with their own family, their own friends.
The relationship between Tate (Evan Peters) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) is deepening. She clearly only wants to help him, but still he’s oblivious to the afterlife. He even outright asks Violet if she believes in ghosts; Tate simply believes that there must be somewhere else better than right here, right now. If only he understood.
Even more, Violet can’t stand her parents, they’re making her feel neglected. Both Vivien and Ben (Dylan McDermott) care that she does not want to leave Murder House – for reasons they know not – however, most of all Ben just wants to get it sold and try to “pick up the pieces” because he obviously feels everything slipping away, trickling out of his grasp. Unfortunately for him, Vivien is resistant. She doesn’t particularly care what Ben wants, nor should she, still – it’s in everyone’s best interest to get out of there.
We know, though, the house is not going to up and let them off without struggle.
Mr. Escandarian is being lured in by the young Moira. Reason being, she wants him to dig up the backyard for a pool. She uses her sexuality to bring him closer, like all the weak men who see her as a twenty-something. But it isn’t only a pool – she wants her bones dug up, so that maybe she might get away from the house. I feel bad for Moira because her sexuality, sadly, is what killed her; Constance punished her fatally for it. At the same time, sexuality is one of her only weapons beyond the grave – I love the angle that men, weak and frail, cannot resist her, seeing the sexy young lady while women see kind and orderly, older Frances Conroy. Great and telling twist.
More of Larry Harvey’s backstory comes out here. He had a wife, but fell in love extramaritally with Constance Langdon next door; she lived in Murder House before them. Turns out, his wife Lorraine (Rebecca Wisocky) set the fire which ultimately killed his family and left him a half-burned man.
So his love for Constance and dedication to her is what drives Larry to try and keep the house in his possession, or at the very least in some way under possession of all the souls on its grounds.screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-53-57-pmOn the Murder House tour, Vivien and Marcy discover more of the history.
Back to the 1920s with Charles and Nora Montgomery (Matt Ross & Lily Rabe). Now there is further macabre and grisly stuff to discover. Nora prepares herself to say goodbye and have a funeral for their murdered baby. However, Charles has pieced it back together using all that Frankenstein-like power of his he’d been perfecting in the basement.
When Nora goes upstairs to say hello to the little thing, she tries to breastfeed it. Downstairs with her husband, claw marks all over her chest make it clear the baby needs something else. As Nora says: “It wasnt milk he was craving.” Such a spectacularly creepy scene! Charles brought to life a half-baby, half-animal, something not entirely human. It’s more than macabre, it’s downright horrific.
But then Nora does them all a favour – she blasts her husband in the back of the head with a revolver before eating the barrel herself. WHOA! I mean, it was dark to begin with; this came on nasty, and like Gang Busters.
What I most enjoy about “Open House” is how all the ghosts, as well as the still living Constance and half-living Larry, come together in a kind of pact. In order for them all to get what they want, the house must remain in tact. Therefore, Mr. Escandarian is a bit of trouble in terms of keeping it in their possession, under their control. Constance tries to go talk with him reasonably on her own terms, however, he is not the nice businessman-type; he is arrogant and misogynistic and a real douchebag. He all but seals his own fate by brushing Constance off so rudely.

 


Again, reference to Peter Medak’s The Changeling, as Violet heads up to the attic where she comes across Beau; naturally, dying at the hands of his own father in the house he too is a part of its structure. Why, all of a sudden, is Violet seeing this? Tate tells her she has “evolved“, but there is more to it, I think.
Regardless, I love how the little red ball comes out of the darkness to Violet before she sees anything else. Great little reference, there’s no way it isn’t alluding to Medak’s masterpiece starring George C. Scott.
We’re seeing the veil drop for Violet now in the house. There’s something more to what’s happening with her and each episode brings us closer to whatever realization lies beyond that veil.
Pretty solid episode, once more. Particularly I love how the ghosts are coming together to try and protect the house, as well as themselves. Ultimately, family is a big theme of the season, but also survival – while the family, Ben, Vivien, Violet alike, are all trying to survive in their own rights, the ghosts and the house are trying to survive in their own ways. Their unfinished business carrying them on and on.
Also a nice little end as Violet shows her mother older pictures from her adventure in the attic with Tate. In one of them, Vivien sees the woman who came to her house recently: long since deceased Nora Montgomery.

 

Next episode is titled “Rubber Man”, directed by Miguel Arteta (Chuck & BuckYouth in Revolt) and by the name of the episode we can bet there will be revelations concerning the latex Rubber Man creeping about Murder House, the one who most likely impregnated Vivien.
Stay tuned for yet another review, moving along swiftly through Season 1!