Tag Archives: american horror story

How To Fix American Horror Story

Seems like just yesterday that I was extolling the virtues of a bold little show called American Horror Story.

In one of the most (unfairly) reviled and (fairly) stagnant genres, AHS was raising the bar. Ushering in a whole new flock of horror fans and giving the long-timers a much needed breath of fresh air. It offered intrinsically good stories and managed to offer cutting social justice commentary at the same time.

So what on earth happened?

We can debate where it all went wrong, but I don’t think anybody can deny that the show is suffering on all fronts, and not even the Evan Peters fanservice is enough to hold it together. [Spoilers from this point on. -Ed.]

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The dude’s the be-all-end-all, if the show’s female fans are to be believed

I could spend all day listing my litany of complaints about the past couple seasons- the skull-numbing boredom of AHS: Freak Show, the abysmally scattered and campy AHS: Hotel (I will never forgive Lady Gaga’s inclusion)…

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I **** you not, the woman’s so vain that her character seduced a gay guy and it was somehow supposed to be taken as her being “progressive”

…but you probably wouldn’t need me for any of that (again though, **** everything about Gaga’s role in this show).

What I’d like to do instead is offer my own armchair suggestions for recapturing that eldritch magic the first couple seasons had. Because I hope that maybe, just maybe, some bored writer will stumble across this piece and think “hey, that’s not a half bad idea!”

Because I’m also that vain.

Not as vain as Gaga though- Miss “I Need To Appear In A Different Crazy Outfit In Every ****ing Scene And Fondle My Harem of Identical Dudes.”

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Okay, I promise I’m done.

So, anonymous and probably non-existent AHS employee who’ll probably never see this, here’s one horror fan’s humble recommendations for restoring one of his favorite shows to its former glory. Continue reading

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The Golden Age of Television

Readers, yours truly is not a person to whom the positives of life are either readily apparent or understandable, but even someone as typically dour as myself can’t deny that we are living in a golden age of television.

It’s he-re…

Now I’m not exactly sure why that is- why all of a sudden we seem to have had a jump in quality and quantity of shows. An age thing, perhaps? I considered that, but as much as we could argue that we simply prefer the television shows we had when we were in our 20s, I don’t think my generation is alone in the belief that TV is better now than it was a decade ago.

Let’s try to figure out why. Continue reading

Fame Day: Hannibal

A while ago, I showcased one of my favorite shows, American Horror Story. One of my key talking points was that AHS‘s success was going to blaze the trail for other, similarly dark and horrific shows.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe the first of those has arrived.

Continue reading

Fame Day: American Horror Story

americansdoghasdToday, I’d like to tip my hat to one of my favorite shows, a young series by the name of American Horror Story.

Now it’s no secret that the horror genre is universally despised, being seen by many as being lower on the totem pole than even toilet-humor comedies or the most saccharine romances out there. I could probably spend an entire post speculating on why exactly horror flicks are treated with such little respect (a lot of it is probably due to the genre’s inbred cousin, the “teen scream” flick), but that’s another topic for another time. I’m here to simply showcase the series and highlight a few of its key strengths and accomplishments that I think make it worthy of a Fame Day.

Each season of the show (the second has just concluded, and a third has been greenlit) is a separate story, made up of the horrific lives of the characters as they struggle with their pasts, their inner demons, and some ever-present terror always lurking just beyond the shadows. It essentially cashes in on the initial charm that LOST had before it jumped the polar bear.

Guilt and shame are themes that play heavily into the series as a whole (or at least, the past two “stories”), giving even the most heinous characters a degree of sympathy. Again, similar to LOST at its best, the constant shifting of the story from one perspective to the next prevents the series from ever being boring. Granted, the madcap pacing doesn’t always work (especially in the first story), but for the most part, the audience is always kept interested.

And that brings us to the first key accomplishment of the series:

Popularity

As I stated above, horror is simply not popular- at least, not in any mainstream way. Tim Burton’s lighter works are really the closest most people get to anything remotely macabre, and the fact that the series has continually drawn in high ratings (to say nothing of critical acclaim) is nothing short of amazing. And we’re not talking about a series that is eerie or has a handful of jump-scares, we’re talking about truly unsettling elements here. I’m certainly not alone in hoping that that AHS‘s continued success serves to begin building bridges between mainstream entertainment and horror subculture; heaven knows both could benefit from some fresh perspective.

And even in the subculture, AHS is playing a pretty major role. It’s…

Raising the Bar

As a result of the genre’s (comparative) isolation, quality in horror is typically pretty rare. When you can’t secure funding for special effects, good equipment, or even B-level actors, chances are your product isn’t going to be all that good. Of course, when you have a built in audience who would pay money to watch Dwayne Johnson protect an orphanage from chupacabras, why would you even bother trying?

I would actually probably watch that…

I’ve seen my fair share of (decent) horror movies, and I can count on one hand the films that had even passable cinematography. AHS, as a series that actually has some decent funding and actually puts effort into creating tense atmospheres and believable effects, is raising the bar for the entire industry. When AHS is the basis for most people’s experience with the genre, there’s going to be pressure on the rest of the industry to meet and excel the expectations the mainstream audience is going to have. Furthermore, AHS‘s star-studded cast (including Zachary Quinto, Ian McShane, James Cromwell, and, I kid you not, Adam Levine) is hopefully going to make the horror genre more inviting to high-caliber actors who can actually sell the audience on the direness of the situation and maintain interest without having to drag in a bunch of fornicating teenagers.

The series is actually one of the few I’ve ever seen that actually gives teens any credit or respect…

And perhaps most importantly, it comes down to this:

Depth

While the stories are good, as are the actors (Jessica Lange being easily more frightening than the goriest bits of the series), it’s some of the basic discussions held during the stories that really hit home. Oppression of women and the dark history of psychology are topics repeatedly brought up, and dealt with both in a historically accurate and totally visceral manner. Perhaps the most disturbing thing I’ve yet seen in the series hasn’t been any of the monsters or murders- it’s been a demonstration (scaled back for TV, even) of the psychological “treatment” given to people “suffering from homosexuality,” seen at the time as a mental disease. Those five minutes alone were more frightening than anything else in the story- and it was amazing. Amazing to see some serious and deep social commentary made, and to see the brutality and insanity some people had to undergo actually presented in a way that’s going to resonate with the audience. You will be a better human being for having watched that scene.

Though in the spirit of honesty, your view of nuns will probably diminish a bit…

When’s the last time you could say that about a rom-com?

American Horror Story, keep up the good work.

A final note. I would’ve included more gifs, but (1) I didn’t want to spoil anything and (2) easily 90% of all AHS images are of Evan Peters, who is apparently just the bee’s knee’, if the series’ female fans are to be believed.

Superman: The Man of Steel Re-Cast

Some time ago, I submitted a brief post recasting the Batman universe. Today, I will be doing the same for the Last Son of Krypton, a challenge greater than that of the Dark Knight first because it will be pretty much impossible to find a better Lex than Kevin Spacey…

…And second because of how much I hate and despise Superman.

Now I know that’s gonna be shocking news. After all, who could find anything but love and appreciation for an inherently powerful, indestructible being serving the US government and acting without any accountability? What could possibly go wrong?

But my issue with Big Blue is neither here nor there. Presented below, for your thoughts, consideration, and potential outrage are my picks for the cast of the perfect Superman series.

Kent Clark/Superman:

Actor: John Hamm

Why We Want Him: Because in addition to being the spitting image of Superman, Hamm is probably best known for his role as Don Draper, 1960s businessman. While I can’t say that I see Superman downing enough whiskey to kill a bull elephant, I can see Hamm’s immersion in a world with an antiquated sense of morality (and uncomfortable suits) as being a huge bonus in playing Clark Kent.

Cons: Weird as it may seem- Hamm is only 6′ tall- a full four inches shorter than Clark Kent’s reported height. While I like the idea of a slightly older superman, the simple truth of the matter is Hamm may be relegated to the speaking roles while a stunt double or two takes on any action scenes.

Lex Luthor:

Actor: Jason Isaacs

Why We Want Him: I’ve seen Isaacs play some pretty despicable characters (The Patriot), but also nail some complexly heroic ones as well (Brotherhood). Ideally, Lex is meant to be tragic hero- someone who could’ve or should’ve been a great leader of men were it not for his obsession with defeating Superman. If there’s anyone who can do this, it’s Isaac’s (also, did you know he played Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter? I just found that out).

Cons: He’s not Kevin Spacey.

Lois Lane

Actress: Jennifer Morrison

Why We Want Her: It’s tough to respect an investigative journalist who can’t recognize Superman as the guy who works the next cubicle down from her simply because he’s wearing glasses. This being (in my experience) pretty much the extent of what Lois does in any Superman book, filling her shoes is a job that pretty much anyone can do- the question is, who can do it best? I submit Jennifer Morrison (House, How I Met Your Mother). She’s played intelligent characters, and we’re banking on that offsetting Lois’s apparent ineptitude.

Cons: As I said, L.L., having the same basic role as Princess Peach, could be played well by pretty much anyone- John Hamm included.

General Zod:

Actor: Viggo Mortenson

Why We Want Him: Because we (or at least, I) have yet to see him deliver on being a truly evil character (SPOILER ALERT: he’s a good guy in Eastern Promises).

Cons: I can’t say for certain that I can see Mortenson pulling off the self-assured, swaggering crypto-Fascist character that Zod has.

Bizarro Superman:

Actor: Benecio Del Toro

Why We Want Him: You might think that the anti-Superman would still be best played by John Hamm. I disagree, and submit instead Benecio Del Toro, who (and I mean no disrespect to him, I really like his work) looks more or less how you’d expect Hamm to look if you took a shovel to his head for a while.

Cons: Del Toro is slightly taller than Hamm, and like Hamm, may be beyond doing some heavy-duty action scenes at this point (but hey, 45 is the new 38).

Pa Kent:

Actor: Rutger Hauer

Why We Want Him: Because the man improvised the “Tears in the Rain” monologue in Bladerunner. That’s right- this guy right here made up on the spot one of the most iconic and moving speeches in film history.

Cons: What about “Improvised ‘Tears in the Rain'” did you not understand?

Ma Kent:

Actress: Jessica Lange

Why We Want Her: Because I’ve seen this woman do some incredibly moving scenes and play her insanely layered and complex characters to the hilt.

Cons: She’s terrifying. AHS fans know what I’m talking about.

Jor-El:

Why We Want Him: Because Rickman, in addition to being just generally awesome, has that strange accent (something entirely beyond British) that’s almost alien. Even if Jor-El is only going to have a few moments of screen time, you want to make ’em count for something- who better for the job than Rickman?

Cons: There’s a strong chance that the accent might be too much- but hey, he could always do that flamboyant American one that fooled John McClane.

Jimmy Olsen:

Actor: Rupert Grint

Why We Want Him: Because of the three ginger comic-relief go-to-guys ( the others being Seth Green and Fran Kranz), Grint is the only one young enough to actually pass for the Daily Planet’s whipping boy.

Cons: Not sure if he could do an American accent.