Hello, folks. Happy Halloween! Are we all ready for the most frightening of days to come? Do you plan on making it the best holiday ever by compiling some of the greatest frights from movies and TV? Well, let me tell you, if you are looking for something scary look no further than American Horror Story's last season, Freak Show, out now on Blu-ray and DVD. I missed this particular season, and had to wait until it was released to buy. I have tried my best to sit down and watch the series, but never got the chance to since having it in my collection. Then, the other night, I finally got the chance to sit down and watch the first episode— and boy, was I surprised, not to mention delightfully frightened. So much so, in fact, that it inspired me to share with you the top five reasons I'll be binging through American Horror Story: Freak Show all Halloween's day long.
5. Elsa Mars: Charles Xavier or Magneto?
In general, one of the best parts of AHS has to be Jessica Lange and her suave, badass attitude toward her surrounding world. Jessica straight up bends each new, original AHS season to her favor, and in Freak Show, this remarkable trait really shines through as she plays the devilishly cunning Elsa Mars. From the first episode we learn that Mars is a procurer of humans with defects, and much like Charles Xavier, she finds herself face-to-face with some of the world's rejected beings as she tries to find a way for them to live in a peaceful community—oh, and also make her a shit load of money. So, there's that.
Everyone loves Jessica Lange in AHS, and she alone drives me into wanting to watch more of the creepy-crawly show, if anything to just see what her character pulls next, really. You see so many sides of this entrepreneuring curator, so many sides that you won't even know how you truly feel about her. If you haven't already seen previous seasons of American Horror Story then you wouldn't know she comes right out of the gate as a #BadBitch, I'm sure that tugged you for a ride as she first portrays herself as a mean, bullish woman, and then as being a sweet little lamb to a two-headed woman that may have just possibly murdered her own mother. Jessica can effortlessly make you feel any way about her that she wants you to at the time, even as she is feeling indifferent to the sufferings of "normal" folks at the hands of the "freaks" herself. Jessica's character brings you with her through every facet of emotion as it is revealed that she's an old, broken, but extremely talented singer and performer that watched as her dreams turned to dust while the world went on without her. At this point, you're feeling empathetic toward her and then she's right back to #BadBitch status, real quick. And on we go into the story...
I love the Xavier-ness to her character, though. To me it makes it interesting to see what poor lonely soul she'll (definitely) talk into working for her stage show in order to exploit for her desires of reaching the fame and fortune that has alluded her thus far in her very strange life. It's moments like these in film and TV that are some of my favorites. It casts so much mystery over the gatherer and the gathered that it becomes too hard to not have your attention pulled into the story deeper. Jessica Lange brings a playful but smooth quality to the job itself that makes her so much fun to watch. She has a Loki-esque essence about her, because just like the God of Mischief, all those around her at the moment are beneath her.
4. Lobster Boy, Pushing the Boundaries of the Classic American Tupperware Party!
Alrighty! Here we go into the odd, holy-shit-did-that-just-happen portion of the list. Now, don't get me wrong. I understand that AHS pushes the boundaries of just how crazy shit can get within the mysterious universe of which it inhabits: Ghosts, pedophilia, at-home abortions, and eye-poppings are odd, but even when they are placed in events that closely resemble our own world's, I don't normally get shocked very easily. I mean, shit, the last season of AHS had a necrophiliac love triangle between two teenagers and an undead kid that was previously murdered because of his association with rapists, but somehow the Tupperware party jumped over those small moral hurdles and ended up in a straight up, weird as hell scenario.
Honestly, I really don't want to spoil anything for you (not that someone hasn't already, most likely), but if you're new to AHS this will test your resolve. A scene that is so damn weird, and a little twisted (really, could this have even happened?), that it may very well turn you off. But for me, it creates so many questions. Some of which range from: “Wait a minute, so does this come with a complete set, or is the Tupperware just a cover?” to “So, you’re telling me that everyone is okay with this sort of thing? I mean, yeah, sexuality should be explored…. but damn, this is before Craigslist, people. What ad are you answering?” plus many, many more. I can honestly write an entire article on just the weirdness of this scene alone and how it even got onto TV in the first place—or hell, how even most of American Horror Story's disturbing scenes push oddity to such an extreme that I can't believe it got past a moderator and onto television. Trust me, I'm not complaining! I, now more than ever in the series, want to know not only what's going to come next in this wild ass storyline, but how does one exactly get into the... Tupperware business. Don't judge me.
What I'm really saying is: If they pulled this in Episode 1, there's no telling what they have in store for the rest of the season. That brings a devilish smile of anticipation to my face, for sure. Well, devilish... but not an Evan Peters sort of devilish, that's for sure.
3. The Two-Headed Killer
This time around Sarah Paulson brings the torn duality of a character out by being of two minds about everything. This is simply because she is playing conjoined twins, which is to say: A two-headed lady. One mind being of hardened reality and the other of childish delusion, slapped with a little isolation due to an ashamed family along with a lack of education and bam, you have two very interesting characters in one. Survival of the whole being the underlying necessity, of course, which just draws you in even more. I honestly don’t know whether to feel sympathy or to sort of cringe each time I catch the quiet one staring into the camera.
Speaking of duality, there is also the story of the two-headed girl(s?) that holds a bit of intrigue. Not as much in why she may be connected to a murder, but also why Mars even has that much interest in her in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I would think that a two-headed anything would get you some business, especially an attractive two-headed woman… but why risk the whole thing on one girl accused of murder? It's not like you could hide her… I mean, yeah, I guess they could act as if they’re holding a basket or something, masking the other's head… but just what is it that Mars wants from her (them)? Trying to answer this, I go back to the other characters from AHS and how their storylines played out, wondering if Mars is still searching for appreciation or if she has more sinister plans. I don't know yet, but I really want to and that alone makes the show binge-worthy. Also, the effects team does such a damn fine job of joining two separate versions of the same actress into one body. It's really impressive to see on a television show. Their editing team must be pulling... double duty... A short silent pause for that pun, please. It seemed worthy but now that it's out, I'm not so sure.
2. Opium, and How “Freaky” Things Can Get Under the Tent
Yes, I understand that sexuality is a small but weighty subject, and the fact that AHS has seen such an outpouring of acceptance is incredible already, especially over some crazy shit that someone just wanted to see because it's fucked up. And I know that AHS is notorious for grand gestures of creepiness and shock value but this is just Episode 1, where they set the stage and theme of the show. So if this is the bar they are already setting, I am interested in seeing just how they top the mania of this scene in particular. A young woman enters the circus for fun, and ends up having far too much of it. Is this what people really did at circuses in the '30s?
The truth is though, the struggle is real at this point in time when you think about the bleak situation. So maybe it was. Would you give a crap about a guy biting a chicken's head off or would you rather geek out in the local theater and watch a guy go to the moon and back, fall down stairs, or whatever the heck people in the '30s enjoyed? I guess at this time, opium and sex was a Dustbowl tradition, because it seems as much a part of the circus stories as clowns and trained elephants are.
One of the unique aspects of this rendition is the additive of opium into the mix. Throwing drugs into a time where they weren’t really illegal intrigues me. I mean, you already have a sex trade, but now a drug trade? Is this a carnival or simply an entertaining organized crime family? I don’t know about you, but I HAVE to know more.
1. Murder Clown Has a House?
The first thing I saw of American Horror Story: Freak Show was who I like to call "Murder Clown." I mean, is there any other way to describe his face? Truly the face only a mother could love.
Now, coming off of Coven, I was ready for some "supernaturality" up in this craziness. There is no other way to put it, but simply “supernaturality” because it always seems to hold its own rules in the shows and never goes so far as to give us glittery skin on vampires or some other ridiculous modern take on mythical monsters. The show in general keeps it pretty close to the source material, and if it does go off the original path, it is always darker and not whimsical in the least. Which brings us back to Murder Clown here…
The thing is, I expected some sort of demon or unstoppable killing machine, so when I sat down to watch the first episode of Freak Show, Murder Clown ended up surprising me the most. For one, he doesn't seem supernatural—just disturbed. I don't mean to downplay him because he is super terrifying but I was taken aback a bit when seeing that Murder Clown was a living, breathing human being—and you'll understand why. Secondly, following along with the episode, you are brought into a sort of abandoned bus where Murder Clown has made a home. Now, at this point I am securely within the boundaries of WTF Land as I watch this mystery take on a story of its own. Sure, yeah, the circus is in town but is this guy even a part of it? Does he do this each time they stop? Finding abandoned busses so he can capture people, put them in a cage, and force them to watch as he nervously creates animal balloons? Okay, well, if he's now... then who the fuck is this guy?
It was at that moment I knew that I was hooked and I just absolutely had to know more of the tale, now if only for Murder Clown alone. What do I want? Well, I sort of want that "supernaturality" thing we talked about earlier to come forth and have him be Mars’ minion or something even darker. Fuck it, AHS. If you took me to Hell (which you seem to do every episode intro, thanks for that by the way), I would go just to see what parts you'd show me. The way things are going, you probably will...
So, if you'll excuse me. I have to go grab a stack of frozen pizzas, some Redbull, and a pillow because it looks like I have some greatly terribly thing to witness. Come on, Murder Clown, just show me what you have in store already!