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IN DEFENSE OF
AMERICAN HORROR STORY

I wanted to turn American Horror Story off fifteen minutes into the pilot episode.

This is the series that was inevitable.

Given that we’ve had successful television vampires and zombies, why not a good old fashioned ghost story?

Because it’s been done to death, and I especially don’t need one from the producer of Glee, that’s why.

My initial reaction (and I’m sure many a horror geek’s as well) to the first part of the pilot episode featured a massive eye rolling and a deep huff and puff. I lost count of the number of images ripped off from many a beloved horror film, and I especially lost it when I realized the brilliant score from Insidious was lifted directly.

But then something in me snapped (and in a good way)…



Fear not, horror fans, American Horror Story is on our side.

As the pilot episode unfolded (and frankly after the brilliant entrance of Jessica Lange), I suddenly and instantly got it. The series is a subversive experience that works on a lot of levels, one of which is for the horror fan with more than a passing knowledge of the genre.

AHS knows what scares you.

It knows what’s worked in the universe of the genre’s past.

It whole-heartingly borrows from classic to modern horror films, television and novels (often blatantly and sometimes indirectly) to get under your skin.

How else can you explain its expert sourcing of music from other productions. The bold choice of Bernard Herrmann’s Vertigo dream-sequence in the pilot’s expository sub-plot is almost blasphemous, but one could easily make the same accusation of the majority of Brian DePalma’s filmography.

AHS may walk the fine line between homage and thievery, but it’s with stuff already hardwired into our senses. It instead becomes a giddy experience. A sort of “what-will-they-do-next” anticipation.

I’m not even going to go into the plot of the series, nor what’s happened to date. To do so, or even comment on what makes the series so great (outside of its devoted love affair with the genre), would be a major spoiler for those who haven’t yet seen the show.

This is instead a call to the percentage of people that perhaps were turned off by the pilot in whole, or as far as they could handle it. I assure you, this is a welcome addition to the season and not to be missed by fans of fright.
For fun, here are just some references to other movies that AHS has toyed with as of episode 3:

The Texas Chainsaw Masacre
The Shining
Poltergeist II
The Amityville Horror
Vertigo
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Eyes Wide Shut
The Strangers
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
The Changeling
Heathers
Insidious
Orphan
Rosemary’s Baby
Kill Bill Vol. 1
The Others
A Nightmare on Elm Street

What have I left out?

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