American Horror Story has been a favorite of horror fans since it first aired as American Horror Story: Murder House in 2011. Drawing on urban legends, film tropes, and real life tales, this critically acclaimed show has continued to shock and entertain fans despite changing every season.
Season 5, Hotel, draws inspiration from the real life murder castle of Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes. Additionally, it is somewhat inspired by the Hotel Cecil, which has a notorious history as a place of refuge for people from Elizabeth Short—the Black Dahlia—and serial killer Richard Ramirez. In 2013, a guest named Elisa Lam was found dead in one of the hotel’s water tanks. The inspiration doesn’t end at locations; Kit and Alma Walker from Asylum are based on Barney and Betty Hill, an interracial couple who famously reported being abducted by aliens in the 1950s.
In season 4, the character of Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) was created by a Washington Post writer in 1895. The tale of an English aristocrat with an evil second face became so entrenched in popular culture that the story was believed by many to be real.
Marie Laveau and Delphine LaLaurie from Coven are historical figures. While records show that these women did exist in New Orleans, the circumstances surrounding their deaths are lost to history. Likewise, the Axeman of New Orleans existed, though his identity remains a mystery to this day. The previously-mentioned Elizabeth Short had a brief appearance in Murder House.
Music has always played a strong part in American Horror Story. Murder House used themes from famous horror movies including Dracula and Insidious. Asylum featured not only the song “Dominique” as a recurring motif, but also as a much-talked about musical number. Coven featured Fleetwood Mac—and then brought in Stevie Nicks herself. Freak Show showcased anachronistic music from artists proclaimed as “freaks” by critics, including David Bowie and Lana Del Rey. And Hotel features Lady Gaga herself.
American Horror Story shows no sign of letting up when it comes to titillating and frightening its fans. The previous seasons (available at Pristine Sales) are every bit as entertaining as the currently-running Hotel, and future seasons promise even more scares.