American Horror Story Roanoke: Chapter 5 – Anthology Within an Anthology? (Review)

Sarah Paulson as Shelby Miller

“Chapter Five” of American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare appears to be a finale of sorts to the Miller story. The rest of the season will presumably stick to the same location but feature a different set of players. Season six is apparently an anthology within in an anthology.

It was, all told, a great wrap-up of events. There were some nods and winks to other works of horror that were appreciated and worth mentioning.

Mama Polk’s “hobbling of Shelby” that was done on only one ankle was straight from Stephen King’s Misery. (The film version though as King’s book, cuts off Sheldon’s foot.)

Another connection, or homage, was to either the ghost woman from  The Grudge or a nod to the Japanese survival horror video game Forbidden Siren aka Siren. Some reviewers have mentioned The Grudge but the figure that grabbed Flora looks an awful lot like a Shibito from the video game.

To-may-to, to-mah-to.

It was somewhat fitting that the cannibalistic family of backwood’s hicks were named Polk. (Anyone growing up in the south, or perhaps the countryside  full stop, will have eaten the leaves of this “weed” substitute for spinach.)

The show’s creators worked in the Mott family, explaining that the last heir died in Florida, “Freak Show” and Evan Peters played the Mott ancestor.  Mott’s story was proof that Dandy, the last of the line, came by his madness via his genes. Clearly madness ran in the family, or at least an inability to interact with other people.

Frances Convoy was splendidly cast as Mama Polk the head of the horrific hillbilly threat who worked hand in hand with The Butcher.  It was also a nice touch to have her appear in the “Mott” episode since she was Dandy’s mother in season four.

In terms of horror there were some excellent bits placed in this “mini” finale.  Cunningham’s face getting bashed in with the ball peen hammer was shocking in its simplicity. The camera only shows the crushed face for a split second but this makes  it more disturbing.

The shooting of the hillbilly driver with the shotgun was executed quite nicely as well. Thomasin and Ambrose first entering and then erupting from the fire was brilliant.

American Horror Story has, this season, deviated from its usual format.  Presumably the remainder of the Roanoke storyline will continue but with a different family and may possibly leave the “Paranormal Witness” template used thus far.

With seasons that only have 10 episodes it will be interesting to see what Murphy and co. fill the second half of season five with. Will it be a continuation of the “recreation” of horrors at the Roanoke house and is this the last we will see of Shelby and Matt?

Regardless of what comes next, the first five episodes were interesting and different while playing outside the usual AHS sandbox.

The series airs Wednesdays on FX. Tune in and see who enters the house next.

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American Horror Story: Roanoke – Chapter Four (Review)

Sarah Paulson as Shelby Miller

Chapter four of American Horror Story: Roanoke does several things. It shows that Flora is still alive and what Croatoan actually means. The word is used to banish the spirits that haunt the place so it is, in essence, a talisman of sorts.

The fourth installment also gives more background on The Butcher, aka Kathy Bates, and what happened to the settlers when they moved to their “final” destination.

There are at least two issues with this chapter however. These mainly have to do with the accents.  Bates’ cross of what appears to be an Irish and Northern English accent just feels wrong. In some instances it sounds too much like her bearded lady in season four.

Lady Gaga’s spirit of the wood also has an accent that makes no real sense.  Why is the sprite French? The intonations of all her lines make’s Gaga sound like she is imitating Inspector Clouseau from The Pink Panther films.

This may have some reasoning behind it but, once again, it makes no real sense for a wood demon to be of anything other than Native American descent.  After all, in that time period the main inhabitants of the “new world” were the indigenous tribes who lived there. The white settlers were very much in the minority and they mostly English, not French.

Dodgy accents aside, there was a good bit of horror in this episode.  The “pig man” appears a number of times and Denis O’Hare’s character dispatching the thing, not once but twice, was pretty impressive.  There is certainly something horrific about a man wearing a real pig’s head, complete with bristles, in just his filthy underpants.

Cricket dies. In some ways, for those who found him too much like the little rotund psychic in Poltergeist, it was a relief. Unlike Zelda Rubinstein‘s character in the other film about spirit abduction, Cricket’s motives have always been very circumspect at best.

He did, after all, ask Lee for $25 thousand to find Flora.

It was horrific to see how Cricket died. Being disemboweled is not pleasant and despite the annoyance factor of the character the punishment seems overly harsh.

Of course the southern psychic does “give” Matthew to the wood spirit as a shagging partner. He has worked out that the creature is long overdue for a little coital passion.

Dr. Elias Cunningham, the chap from the film found in the secret room, comes back to save the day, very briefly, only to die under an onslaught of arrows from the dead Roanoke denizens.

He does, however, give a bit of backstory about the place and shows what happens to previous owners of the property. From the Cheng family to the psychotic sisters who murdered their medical charges, he provides a little history for each doomed owner.

It is Cunningham who explains that once things get to this stage, the spirits, though very corporeal, are not able to be easily defeated. In fact they cannot really be hurt at all. The Butcher and her followers are too powerful.

One thing seems clear. Whomever has professed to being powerful enough to defeat Thomasin  has died. Both Cricket and Cunningham perished after claiming they alone could stop the villagers.

It looks like Priscilla may wind up being the savior that Flora and the Millers need. The child, who was a sacrifice when Thomasin and the rest were still alive, saved Flora from The Butcher’s knife.  Could the dead youngster be the way out for the family?

American Horror Story airs Wednesdays on FX. Stop by and see what happens to this “Paranormal Witness” family next.

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American Horror Story: Season 6 Chapter 1 – This Little Piggy (Review)

AHS teaser logo

Season six of American Horror Story has a different look from its predecessors. ‘Chapter 1’ takes a note from Discovery Channel’s “A Haunting.” Using the familiar recounting formula with recreations to add a bit of drama.  This open has some “piggy” overtones where a little screaming of the pigs signposts a bad times ahead.

It is also a device used by true crime show on both sides of the pond.

The show’s plot is set in the present, there are smart phones and outdoor hot tubs, although it takes place in the most rural of places. A huge house located in the middle of a South Carolina wood.

At the start of American Horror Story  Shelby and Matt recount why they left California and moved back to the east coast.  It takes a moment, even with the “Based on a true story” and “Viewer discretion advised” messages to realize the show’s format change.

Regardless of this shift, things move forward at a cracking pace.  After Matt recovers from surgery, he was assaulted on the streets of LA, the couple bid on a house they stumble across on a picnic.

The nearly derelict building is up for auction and the only competition is a group of Deliverance locals. Matt outbids the hillbilly tribe and this does not go over well.

Shelby has bad feelings about the house and it not overjoyed that it  is now theirs. The yoga instructor channels her inner calm and says nothing to her husband.  They begin to redecorate the place and things begin happening.

The first event is clearly the work of the Deliverance trio. Blood spattered over broken barrels and pig’s squealing in the middle of the night disturbs Shelby and angers Matt.

Matt, a traveling salesman, leaves and Shelby, despite her misgivings settles in. As she enjoys a night-time soak in the hot tub she is attacked.

The police are not helpful.

Matt calls his sister Lee, a former police officer busted off the force for drugs, to come stay with Shelby. Lee and Matt’s wife do not get along.

The two women bicker over Shelby’s wine drinking. Lee is awakened by someone rolling an empty wine bottle into her bedroom. She confronts Shelby and as they argue the former cop hears someone else in the house.

They go to investigate.  They find a video playing on a television in the basement. It shows  someone in a realistic looking pig mask and a man (Denis O’Hare) dying. 

Matt returns home and Shelby attempts to leave. She hits a woman standing in the road, (Kathy Bates holding  a meat cleaver.) and stops her car. She see the woman go into the woods and Shelby follows.

She gets lost.

At one point, she falls and the forest floor appears to be breathing. Shelby gets to her feet only to find she is surrounded by people carrying burning torches.

Murphy has presented a great start to the sixth season of American Horror Story. A disturbing ghost tale with specters  that may or may not be locals harboring a grudge.

There are homages to horror genre favorites  throughout the first episode. The Blair Witch Project being the most apparent, Wrong Turn possibly being another. Although it is a toss up between that 2003 horror film and Deliverance.

There is one jarring moment in the opening episode. When Lee and Shelby head to the basement to investigate the intruder, Shelby asks where Lee’s gun is.  The former police officer responds, “Where it should be, in a locked drawer.”

This one bit of dialogue, after Lee tells Shelby earlier that she is still “packing” despite not having a badge, rings false.  As any gun owner will attest, having a firearm locked up does not help when faced with intruders.

Still, it is the “correct” answer  for anyone who is paranoid about guns in general.

Political statements aside, the season is off to an excellent start.  While fans are still missing Jessica Lange, there are enough favorites to make the show worth watching. The story line, with its “this little piggy” overtones looks very interesting.

American Horror Story airs Wednesdays on FX.

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Lady Gaga and American Horror Story: A Perfect Marriage

On top of the very sad news that Ben Woolf, Meep from Season four of American Horror Story, has died, it has been revealed that Lady Gaga will be joining the cast of season five, which one media outlet says is “partially” titled “Hotel.” This will be a perfect marriage of the weird and wonderful meeting the wonderfully weird. Gaga, Mother Monster to all her rabidly devout little monsters, will no doubt bring something to the AHS table.

To read the rest of the article go to Viral Global News…

Ben Woolf Dies From Injuries

Ben Woolf died on Monday from his injuries after being hit in the head by a car while he crossed the street on Hollywood Boulevard. The actor, whose glandular condition kept his height at 4 feet 4 inches, played Meep on the FX series “American Horror Story Freakshow”.

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