Secrets of American Horror Story, the psychosexual thriller from the Glee creators

There's plenty of buzz surrounding the new latex-humping horror series American Horror Story, but what's is this bizarre show really about? We rounded up every detail, image, screengrab, trailer, review and viral ad we could find, and squeezed out every precious piece of information from the heart of horror.

Beware — lots and lots of spoilers below!

The show, created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (Nip/Tuck, Glee), follows the Harmon family as they move into a new, and very haunted home. Once inside, the house begins to mess with the family in all sorts of horrific ways. Or maybe it's all just a dream? From what we've read audiences might leave the pilot doubting everything they saw on screen. But more on that later, for now let's break down what we know.


The Characters:

Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott)
The head of this fractured family, and a terrible therapist, Ben moves his wife Vivien and gloomy daughter Violet into the haunted mansion, hoping to regain trust after his recent sexual indiscretion. Which apparently means lots of aggressive sex between him and the missus, including possibly donning a full-body latex suit. But rumor has it that could have been a very horny ghost instead. No. Seriously.


Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton)
Reeling from her husband's affair (Vivo caught her hubby mid-coitus with a student), the unhappy wife moves into the haunted mansion looking for a fresh start. But she's still dealing with a lot of serious trauma, as some critics blame Ben's actions for her later brutal miscarriage. Also, it appears that she's being stalked by two zombie twins, and possibly had sex with a ghost. We don't know for sure yet.


Violet Harmon(Taissa Farmiga)
Pissed off at her father, and probably the world, Violet is being painted as the stereotypical angry teen. Not helping this case is the fact that she's also a cutter.


Tate (Evan Peters)
Enter Tate, Violet's new crush and her father's first patient. Bad news for Violet — Tate is completely insane and speaks in tongues.


Constance (Jessica Lange)
The next door neighbor who is incredibly intrusive. We've already seen clips of her standing above the bed soothing Ben back to sleep — or was that a dream? Constance clearly knows what's been going on inside this house for years, and isn't telling anyone. No word on if she's helping or hurting the Harmons either. She also has a daughter with Down Syndrome, you can see her in trailer below. She's the one telling everyone "they're going to die here."


Larry Harvey (Denis O'Hare)
Not sure what to make of the King of Mississippi being on this show, but rumors allude to him having a lot of history with the house. Plus we've already seen him standing in a room covered in flames. Was he a part of the murder/suicide that happened to the previous owners of the Harmon's new home?


Moira (Alexandra Breckenridge/Frances Conroy)
The reason for the double casting of Moira isn't for flashbacks. According to a few early reviews, Moira is perceived differently by both Vivien and Ben. Vivien sees Moira as an elderly housekeeper, while Ben sees her as a garter-wearing sex machine. Good marks for Ben for deciding that it was a great idea to keep the french maid costumed cleaning lady about, while he tries to work on trust issues with his lady.

Chad (Zachary Quinto)
We don't know much about the Sylar/Spock actor's new character. But we do know that he'll be in four episodes total, and a big part of the two-parter Halloween episode. Chad is the gay former owner of the house. He eventually becomes friends with Vivien. And that's all we know for now, folks.

The Clips:

Instead of releasing a string of out-of-context clips from the premiere, FX decided to litter the internet with short creepy videos of latexed men dancing about dirty baby dolls and blood. What did it all mean? We have no idea. But this most recent trailer appears to be the most linear thing we've seen thus far, and also reveals a lot of the creepy crap happening inside the house.


Here's a bunch of messed up screengrabs we snapped from the trailer. What's with all the tiny babydoll nooses? Yipes.

Click to view

Opening Titles:

Just recently the official titles for American Horror Story, crafted by Kyle Cooper of Seven title fame, were released over at EW. Ryan Murphy promised that every creepy baby-in-a-jar in the title sequence would be explained in due time. Here's hoping.


The Viral Site

Then there is the home itself, which is full of sweaty nasties and perversions. Over at the show's viral site, You're Going To Die In There, you can explore the various rooms of the Harmon home in different points of time. One room for each time period. It would appear that horrible things have been happening for decades in this dwelling. Our personal favorite is the 1980s room with the sex tape, and the ball-gag that's been bitten through. Sheesh!


Early Reviews:

So, does anyone like it?

NPR delighted in the frenetic pace of the pilot, but worried it may be a bit too ambitious. God help us if we get embroiled in another Lost "blow the hatch now, answer the questions never" scenario.

Several of the folks I talked to last night [after the screening] were talking about what utter sensory overload it was, and I can't argue with that. It's very, very over-the-top, but I also found it wildly entertaining. It utterly polarized the folks I had dinner with afterwards (this would have been a great screening for anyone who thinks critics can't think for themselves), but my reaction was that its biggest challenge may be that it's taken on far too much — that its ambition is destined to exceed its capabilities... In short: This show is flat-out keeeee-razy. I liked it.


Entertainment Weekly wanted to see more — and warned Glee fans that this is much more Nip/Tuck than it is High School Prom night.

I want to watch American Horror Story again - it's crammed with details that require uncramming. At the very least, I can say with certainty that Ryan and Falchuk have upped the stakes (not a pun - blessedly, there's not a vampire or a werewolf in sight) for TV horror. Unlike most scary TV shows (and movies), which rely upon the rhythm of a few quiet scenes followed by a boo! fright every 20 minutes or so, AHS is pretty much all-scare, all the time.


But TV Done Right disagrees and claims that AMS is much more Glee than Nip/Tuck, and that's a bad thing.

American Horror Story has inherited many of the problems that plague Glee. The main and secondary characters are clichéd, the storylines are all over the place, and it's as subtle as a kick in the nuts. AHS is like Glee on ecstasy, but replace the singing with S&M, latex-suit, and crying masturbation. (All actual scenes in AHS…really!)... The series has a creepy feel to it, which is good because it's a horror after all. But it does so with lots of quick-shots, which randomly appear in the oddest place. It almost comes off as they're TRYING too hard to be scary. Although some will find it creepy, I doubt anyone will find it scary.


Time Magazine was ready to check out more, but wasn't sure where the pilot was going.

This pilot is insane. In good ways and bad. It's visually hallucinatory and disorienting; you will end it not certain which scenes you've seen are real. (I'm 99% sure this is intentional—you're entering the same quasi-dream state as the characters—but it's a risky device.) It's genuinely, unrelentingly horrific and creepy. (Three words: things in jars.)


As you can see AHS is a grab bag of mixed reviews — but you know I personally am a fan of any sort of hyper-sexual silliness, especially when it makes you jump out of your chair. We look forward to finding out for ourselves on October 5th on FX. Will you be watching?

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