American Horror Story has reinvented and reinvigorated the idea of horror on TV. Each season of the show takes a new form. Many of the actors stay the same but their characters are different. We’ve seen it based in haunted houses, mental hospitals, a school for witches, a carnival, and a hotel that must be really struggling with its Yelp reviews (live-in serial killers tend to be a downer).
The show has been a huge critical success. It has had Emmys, Golden Globes, and other awards showered on it. Many of its stars have been shot into the big leagues. Jessica Lange’s star turns in the first four seasons introduced her to a new generation as well as earning her all sorts of trophies. Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Lady Gaga have all won huge followings for their roles as bearded ladies, hermaphrodites, and vampires. Those aren’t the usual characters that get such big names interested. But American Horror Story is anything but usual.
Horror films work because they only have to surprise us for the duration of our time in the cinema. Horror on TV has to keep the scares and tension coming week after week. American Horror Story never fails to pop at least one WTF moment into each episode. Now in its sixth season here are 15 of the most shocking moments that made you wish you’d not watched it with your parents.
And, obviously, if you want to genuinely shout WTF while watching American Horror Story then stop reading here: SPOILERS!
15 Gimp Suit
American Horror Story starts hot straight of the gate in its first season. AHS: Murder House is appropriately named as the dead bodies come thick and fast. But one of the first WTF moments comes thanks to a latex gimp suit.
14 Breastfeeding a Serial Killer
The second season of AHS is called Asylum. When you see the horrors going on in the Catholic-run mental institute you might be begging for asylum yourself. The series flashes between the past (in the hospital) and the present (a serial killer somehow related to the past events).
13 The Addiction Demon
AHS: Hotel is the fifth season of the show and set in an LA hotel well past its glory days. Each room seems to be populated by things worse than bedbugs. Perhaps the most horrifying is the Addiction Demon – more memorably named Drilldo by fans.
12 Killer Santa
Life in a mental asylum can’t be all doom and gloom. Even the criminally insane enjoy Christmas. One inmate seems to take just a little too much from it. Leigh Emmerson, played with murderous glee by Ian McShane, is a madman who killed a street Santa for disappointing a little boy and then killed others who crushed his ‘Christmas Spirit.’
11 Singing Racist Head
AHS: Coven takes place in a New Orleans school for witchcraft – Hogwarts it is not. The witches of the school have skills as varied as mind-reading, pyromancy, and lethal vaginas. The education of the witches takes place against the backdrop of a centuries long feud between witches, voodoo practitioners, and witch hunters.
10 Nazi Suicide
When hiring doctors for your mental asylum you should probably check their CVs for service in concentration camps. Dr. Arden (AKA Hans Gruber – no, not that one) of AHS: Asylum is a scientist, doctor, and Nazi. Someone in human resources needs to be fired.
The history of the Murder House in the first season AHS goes back to the Montgomerys, a wealthy socialite and her doctor husband. The couple fall on hard times when the doctor becomes hopelessly addicted to ether. To make ends meet he ‘helps girls who get in trouble.’ When a boyfriend of one of the girls he gives an abortion to finds out he kidnaps the Montgomery baby son Thaddeus. Thaddeus later is discovered in pieces.
8 Lizard Tattoo
The character of Penny goes on quite the transformation over the course of AHS’s fourth season – Freak Show. She starts as a callow and insensitive hospital assistant. When faced with a “freak” she says that she would drown one if she gave birth to one. She ends as… well, that’s what makes us go WTF.
7 Son in the Attic
Thaddeus the Frankenbaby lives in the Murder House basement but it is a staple of horror stories that people keep their unusual family members in the attic. Those who die in the Murder House are destined to remain there forever as ghosts. When a mother cannot bear to be parted from her son she takes matters into her own hands.
6 Spalding’s Dolls
Spalding is the butler of the witches’ school in AHS: Coven. He is well suited to keep the witches’ secrets – he cut out his own tongue to make sure he could not be forced to reveal anything. The mute butler now lurks in the background ready to serve the head of the Coven, and his own collector’s sensibilities.
5 The Name Game
We saw earlier how the attempts to bring Christmas jollity to an asylum backfired. Another attempt goes slightly better when music is introduced. It also goes a little psychedelic.
Jessica Lange has ended up institutionalized in the very asylum she used to run. When she hears the music we are treated to musical song and dance number completely at odds with the misery-tinged scenes before and after. The other residents join in the routine dancing along to the upbeat tune.
4 Puppet Show
Everyone wants to keep their children happy. Dandy Mott is the only child of a wealthy family. His upbringing has supplied him with everything he wanted and made him a spoiled narcissist. The murderous tendencies are a gift he gave himself.
3 Piggy Man
Everyone knows the urban legend of Bloody Mary. Say her name three times in front of a mirror and Bloody Mary herself will appear. AHS: Murder House takes a different spin on the tale.
A perpetually fearful man comes to a psychiatrist for help with his anxieties. He is even terrified of stories that he knows to be false, like that of Piggy Man. Say “Here Piggy Pig Pig,” three times and a butcher wearing a pig’s head will be summoned. Convinced by his doctor to try it and see how nothing happens the man returns home to test it out.
2 Aliens and Spiders
AHS: Asylum focuses on the murders perpetrated by a killer known as Bloody Face, who wears the faces of his victims. So far, so standard. But American Horror Story is not afraid to branch out in its horror. Thrown into the mix are aliens and the robotic spiders they implant in victims.
One of the slaves that Madame Lalaurie tortured was the lover of voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. This slave, Bastien, is chained in Lalaurie’s attic and has a bull’s head placed over his own. When Laveau finds his dead body she revives him with the bull’s head still on – a modern Minotaur.
This Minotaur is then used to hunt down Laveau’s witch enemies. One of the young witches takes a novel approach in her attempts to stop the Minotaur. Instead of fighting him she begins touching herself and encouraging him to mount her. This attempt at love over hate does not turn out well for her…
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