I watched a couple of episodes of the first season of American Horror Story. I will watch virtually anything horror based. Anything. This show could not keep my attention and I could not stand the cast. They were annoying and I took issue with the onscreen abuse of a mentally challenged actor/character. I actually winced a few times, especially when she was locked in a closet. And I also could not look at Dylan McDermott. He’s certainly attractive, but I hated his character. I passed on the first season, and was going to do the same for the second, but I’m glad I didn’t. This show is completely nuts! I love that it’s a completely different story line which is what the creators, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, intend for every season. I love the cast which includes Jessica Lange, Chloe Sevigny, James Cromwell and Zachary Quinto. I also think they got the offensive material right this time, if that can be done at all. Because be forewarned, it’s pretty durn offensive.
It’s based in the Briarcliff Mental Institution in 1964, with a motley crew of characters and their conditions- the stereotypical “crazy” of that era -the lesbian, the nympho, and the rebel. Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) is the bad-ass nun that runs the show, and she has her own deep-seated guilt driven issues. James Cromwell plays the creepy Dr. Arden and I just love to hate both of this overbearing, monstrous authority figures. They lord over the captured flock, abusing them according to their moods, making escape the only answer for the patients that are wrongly institutionalized. There is also a connection to the present, as the first episode opens with a young modern-day couple, looking for a place to get kinky. They break into the abandoned asylum and are in for some rotten luck, as the legend of Bloody Face rears its ugly head. I really like how the modern-day story is interwoven into the history of the asylum and can’t wait until the two meet up for what looks to be a mind-blowing reveal.
Speaking of mind-blowing, I am floored by Zachary Quinto. He looks like he stepped out of a time machine from 1964. He nails the sympathetic but mysterious Dr. Oliver Thredson, a visiting psychiatrist. Chloe Sevigny plays the heck out of her character Shelly, an oversexed and troubled young woman whom I genuinely feel sorry for. Other notables are Grace (Lizzie Brochere), Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) and Kit Walker (Evan Peters). The chemistry between the cast members is pretty amazing and the asylum extras really freak me out. They are convincingly crazy. The whole visual impact of the dark, dingy religiously run institute, topped with some really bizarre story line twists keeps me glue to the screen. I am definitely staying tuned for more possession, aliens, mutants, nazis, and how they affect the past and present day mayhem at Briarcliff Mental Institution.
Bedlam Season 2
Another mysterious, haunted asylum show is the British series, Bedlam. I watched the first season and it was pretty good. It’s based at a condo development called Bedlam Heights which was originally an asylum. Jed (Theo James) arrives at the apartments looking for lost family members and answers to his spotty past. He has just been released from a mental institution and can see ghosts. When he arrives at Bedlam, ghosts of the asylum appear and creepy mysteries need solving. The finale was a cliff hanger. Does Jed love his cousin Kate? Is she really his sister? Was his mother a former patient at Bedlam? Season two comes along and it’s a completely new cast. It’s still good, but they have some ‘splaining to do. Seems like the season one cast got better gigs. Anyway, to sum it up, there is a new, attractive cast, lots of ghosts running around, and mysteries every two seconds. Definitely worth a watch on a Saturday night with your pizza and glass of wine.