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‘American Horror Story: Freakshow’ gets freaky with teasers

- August 29th, 2014

American Horror Story: Freakshow may be the exact ingredient needed in keeping the genre pushing series afloat.

FX released five teasers in subsequent for their upcoming fourth season last week, with each one being freakier than the last.

After last season’s venture into campy horror grounds, exhibiting the life of teenage witches not nearly as clever or sincere as Buffy and Sabrina, the show could use a traumatizing season dedicated to dysfunctional bodies and strange characters.

1.) Fallen Angel

The first time audiences are introduced to the elusive woman with wings. Although she may appear angelic, it’s becomes apparent pretty quickly this is a devil in a world run by members of the innermost center of hell.

2.) Lick

Lick is the exact type of teaser American Horror Story fans were hoping to see after last season’s underwhelming scenes. It promises physical grotesqueness, akin to superb standout scenes from both the first (Violet’s body being found) and second season (Santa Clause). It’s not particularly gory, but it’s just creepy enough to elicit a small disturbing shiver out of their most veteran fans.

3.) Spotlight

Spotlight plays heavily with the ideas of shadows, the idea of what potential horror could be lurking around the dark corner. Let your imagination run wild with the possibilities of the endless horrors the cast will have to face on camp grounds this fourth season.

4.) Caged

A mysterious, probably sadistic ring leader holding his troupe and his audience captive is just one theme showrunner Ryan Murphy and his writing team are bound to run wild with, but the possibility of an actual woman with wings sounds simply irresistible for any horror fan.

5.) Head to Toe

Three legs! Attractive woman! A snippet of the eerie American Horror Story music playing in the background!

6.) Admit One

Like the spliced tongue, the unclenching claw or disfigured hand is precisely the right amount of creepy crawly undertones the show needed to rebound. It manages to pull off being both subtle and direct in pointing out just how intense this season may get.

7.) Open Wide

It’s been a while since an image from American Horror Story has actually disturbed audiences, but this is the promo to do just that. Throwbacks to Hooper’s 1981 classic Funhouse jsut sweeten the deal for horror fans everywhere.

8.) Twisted Smile

Like Open Wide, Twisted Smile promises all kinds of psychosexual content for the fourth season of television’s biggest horror show. With Murphy, were we really expecting anything less?

9.)Sword Swallow

Certainly more carnie friendly than the last two teasers, Sword Swallow promises grotesque physical feats of century old traveling circus troupes.

I’m sure in the next couple of weeks more teasers may drop, and I’ll be sure to add them to this collection of all things weird produced by Ryan Murphy’s mind. For now, may these images haunt your dreams and spark your nightmares.

That was Murphy’s goal, right?

American Horror Story: Freakshow premieres October 8 on FX.

‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ brings the circus to town

- March 24th, 2014

American Horror Story’s next season may just be its freakiest yet.

Early Monday morning, Ryan Murphy, creator and show runner of the entire American horror franchise, took to Twitter and confirmed the newest season of the show would indeed take place inside a carnival.

Rumors had surfaced months in advance that the latest season of the horror anthology would be set inside a murderous pageant setting, although Murphy and his team vehemently denied it.

 

Although Murphy himself didn’t announce more than the title of the fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show, Entertainment Weekly did manage to secure some more details surrounding the upcoming season, including which of the previous cast would return.

“Set in Jupiter, Florida, in 1950, Freak Show finds Jessica Lange playing a German ex-pat who is managing one of the last freak shows in the U.S.,” the Entertainment Weekly story stated.

This isn’t the first time Murphy has played around with a German ex-pat living in the United States, but unlike James Cromwell’s character from American Horror Story: Asylum, Murphy hasn’t made any announcements that hint toward Lange’s character being a Nazi.

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Florida is also an interesting choice to host the carnival, a setting much more suited for New Orleans, where the last season, American Horror Story: Coven was set.

“Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett, and Frances Conroy all play performers whom Lange’s character has rescued; Denis O’Hare and Emma Roberts are also in talks to return.”

From the casting news, Murphy has taken talent from each season of his anthology, but will be primarily focusing on bringing back characters from the first and third installments.

The biggest news surrounding the latest season, as well as permanent casting announcements and plot details, will emerge closer to the show’s air date, sometime in late October.

Sean and Catherine’s wedding is an American Horror Story at the Grammys? TV must-sees for the week

- January 26th, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 26

1) Grammy Awards
Live: Paul McCartney (above right) and Ringo Starr (above left), the two surviving Beatles, will take the stage as the legendary band is honoured with a lifetime achievement award. Fab, but should have happened long ago, huh?
When: Sunday on CBS, City

2) American Horror Story: Coven
Third-season finale: Another campaign for this innovative and frightening series comes to a close. Which witch will rise as the new “supreme?” The last episode sets up as a kind of in-coven Super Bowl.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

3) Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials
Canadian viewers diverted by simulcasting often complain that they never get to see the American ads that air during the big game. Often it’s much ado about nothing, but here’s a chance to catch up.
When: Wednesday on CBS

4) Episodes
Frustrated by his current role and intrigued by an unexpected new opportunity, Matt (Matt LeBlanc) tries to convince Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tasmin Greig) to kill him off Pucks.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

5) The Following
Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) receives some mysterious phone calls – no, not from telemarketers – while information comes to light about the new life put together by Joe Carroll (James Purefoy).
When: Monday on Fox, CTV

6) Community
As Annie (Alison Brie) and Professor Hickey (Jonathan Banks) prepare the cafeteria for the mid-term dance, they must negotiate with Greendale’s head custodian, played by guest star Nathan Fillion.
When: Thursday on NBC, City

7) True Detective
Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) sets up Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) with a friend, which you know won’t go well. Meanwhile, parishioners identify a scarred man who was seen with the murder victim.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

8) Republic of Doyle
This represents the back end of a crossover-episode arrangement with Murdoch Mysteries. Yannick Bisson guest-stars as Bill Murdoch, a descendant of Detective William Murdoch.
When: Wednesday on CBC

9) 19-2
Debut: Set in Montreal, this is a 10-episode English-language adaptation of a French Canadian series. It’s about two reluctantly partnered beat cops, in this case played by Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes.
When: Wednesday on Bravo

10) The Bachelor: Sean and Catherine’s Wedding
Live: In this special presentation, Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici exchange vows in front of family, friends, paparazzi, gossip-mag reporters, hangers-on, puzzled passers-by, you know the drill.
When: Sunday on ABC, OMNI

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Jessica Lange doesn’t think her American Horror Story characters are creepy. Huh?

- December 7th, 2012

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In a conference call with American Horror Story’s Jessica Lange today, I asked her if she could recall the “a-ha moment” when she realized she could play creepy really, really well.

“I don’t think of any of my characters as creepy,” Lange said.

Say what?

“They might be misguided. They might be crazy. But definitely not creepy.”

Lange, of course, currently is playing Sister Jude in the second season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, the full title of which is American Horror Story: Asylum (FX, FX Canada).

In season one, which told an entirely different self-contained story, Lange played – I’m sorry, Jessica, it’s true – a creepy neighbour named Constance. Lange also will be back for season three, whatever that might entail.

“There’s nothing that appeals to me more than playing madness,” Lange continued. “And that I do know how to dip into. But that’s quite different than creepy.

“I’m sorry,” Lange added with a chuckle. “I don’t find anything creepy about these characters.”

Uh, you really need to go back and watch them, Jessica Lange.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Sarah Paulson seeks “Asylum” from cop procedurals in American Horror Story

- November 16th, 2012

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As one of the main characters in American Horror Story, Sarah Paulson is about as far away from a police procedural as an actress can get.

“I’ve very grateful I’m not walking around a police department saying, ‘Hey, the perp escaped,’ ” Paulson said.

“Not that those shows aren’t great in their own way. But for me as an actress, they’re not stimulating in the same way. I love watching them, but doing them, I don’t know if that would be fulfilling.

“With this – because it’s Ryan (Murphy, creator) – I’m not just playing your typical television woman.”

There’s nothing typical about American Horror Story, which airs Wednesday nights on FX Canada. In season two – the full title of which is American Horror Story: Asylum – Paulson plays Lana Winters, a newspaper reporter in 1964 for whom things have gone horribly wrong. (SPOILER ALERT: Plot points are about to be discussed.)

If you’ve been watching, you know that Lana has been held against her will at a mental-health facility for the criminally insane, run by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange). Lana’s “official” crime was being a lesbian – it’s 1964, remember – but it actually was her desire to snoop around the institution that put her in harm’s way.

And now Lana is being held against her will again, a victim of the duplicitous Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto).

“There’s nothing more terrifying than a person being held somewhere against their will, having done absolutely nothing wrong,” said Paulson, who earlier this year was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role in the HBO made-for-TV movie Game Change.

“To me, that’s the terror of this season (of American Horror Story). There’s nothing they can do, because one person has all the power.

“There was a time in this country when that was the reality of these institutions. But I’m not saying all of them were run by sadistic nuns.”

Of course, American Horror Story has tossed just about anything it can get its hands on into the mix this season, from exorcisms to aliens and everything in between. It’s that combination of realism and the possibility of other worlds and other existences that keeps viewers simultaneously intrigued and, to be blunt, uncomfortable.

Season one of American Horror Story – in which Paulson played a psychic – largely was about ghosts. But as Paulson astutely pointed out, the basic setup allowed viewers an “out” if they were looking for one, because they could say, “Sure, this is scary, but I don’t believe in ghosts.”

In season two, however, even if you don’t believe in spaceships or possessed souls, you still can accept and lament Lana’s life-threatening predicament. (My initial review when season two debuted can be found here.)

You know the old cliche that “anything can happen?” Well, this is one of the few shows for which it literally is true.

And even better, Sarah Paulson doesn’t have to respond to, “Detective, get in here!” For her, that might be the scariest plot of all.

“Exactly, although that may be in my future someday,” Paulson said. “But I’m grateful it’s not what I’m doing right now.

“You know, I got to start (this season) in those great ’60s outfits, and by the time it’s over, it’s going to be a whole other situation.

“The great thing I can say with confidence is, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Gulp.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv