Letters from the Lunar Outpost

The Creative knows the great beginnings. The Receptive completes the finished things.
- I Ching, Chinese Book of Changes (B.C. 1150?)

American Horror Story

When was the last time I was so completely sucked into a show that as soon as the episode ended, I was immediately wishing I could just fast forward through the week to make it to next week’s episode? It’s been a long time, I can tell you that and I can hardly wait for Wednesday night to roll around again.

American Horror Story is not for the faint of heart, but as a true devotee of horror films, I can tell you from the first two airings, despite being made for television, this is horror that’s as good as it gets. From the time period flashbacks which have started the first two shows, to the opening credits, to the wild visuals, the creepy crawlies and the outright shocks, it’s all top notch, but where most horror flicks fail, this show’s strongest suit is with the characters. Every character in this show is disturbed, but in an everyday, (almost) normal sort of way, and the actors and actresses are all spot on. They started out with a great cast of characters that pull you in and each time they introduce a new character, you get hooked in even more.

Something I’ve gotten a real kick out of is all the elements they’ve been pulling from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Shining. Surely the writers / producers have that movie near the top of their all-time favorites, too.

I made a little list of allusions to The Shining through the pilot and episode one, did you catch them all? Did I miss any?

  • Starting off with a bit of a hunch here, but judging by the house’s previous history, it’s a pretty good bet that just like The Shining, this house is ultimately going to try to work through the husband & father and use him to kill the family.
  • The guy with the half burnt face, Mr. Harvey, he’s the connection and communication link between the house and Ben Harmon, just like Grady was the Overlook Hotel’s connection to Jack Torrance in The Shining.
  • Both Harvey and Grady killed their own families, then attempted to guide the new man of the house down the same path. (First part is fact, second is a pretty good hunch . . . )
  • How about the vandalizing red-headed twins from the pilot?  Another little nod to The Shining and those unforgettably creepy twin girls in the blue dresses.
  • The old maid is viewed as a sexy hot vision in the lustful eyes of Ben Harmon, straight out of that that bathtub scene in room 237.
  • Watching Adelaide roll the ball down in the basement, you just knew after they left, we’d get one more shot of it rolling back, just like red ball rolling down the hallway to Danny.
  • Tate giving that Squeaky Fromme lookalike chick the axe to the gut, that was straight-up how Jack Torrance did Mr. Hallorann.

Now if it had been some half-assed production with weak writing and cardboard characters, I’d be all over them for stealing from a great movie like The Shining, but when they’re doing horror as high art the way they’re doing it, call each of these examples a nod or a tip of the cap to The Shining, and it only makes the show better in my opinion.

If you haven’t caught the pilot, it’s free for the viewing at the FX website. I’m sure episode 1 will be getting posted shortly as well.

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