The leaves are turning, the apples are falling from the trees, and the shelves at Duane Reade are sagging under the weight of millions of Hershey’s Miniatures. That can only mean one thing: Tis the season for Ryan Murphy‘s giddily insane televised horror serial. This year we’ve got a new set of characters, fresh new faces, and a new setting, but the big question at the core of it all remains the same: WILL THEY MAKE IT TO NATIONALS?
Whoops – sorry, wrong nightmare.
American Horror Story is back, y’all – bringing with it a new location, a new storyline, and a new set of rules. Last year’s “House” miniseries pulled off the near-impossible: smashing nearly 100 years of horror movie tropes into a self-contained tale that was fresh, exciting, profane, ludicrous, surprising, gruesome, timely, and extremely satisfying. This year the gang is back with a new tale entitled “Asylum”, which tells the tale of a New England sanitarium that houses tortured souls on both sides of the bars.
I’m thrilled to be back this year to recap Round 2. And as a lifelong horror nut with 16 years of Catholic schooling under my belt, I would like to think that I am particularly well-suited to recapping this nuntastic installment. Let’s jump right in!
“Are we still gonna wanna bang each other when we’re 80?”
Such is the primary concern of Adam Levine as he and his new wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, as they creep into the abandoned, derelict skeleton of some massive, crumbling institution. The time is somewhere around the present, the location is New England, and the countdown has started for the couple destined to be the first on the slab in season two of American Horror Story. I mean, really – Levine is too busy spinning around in a bumper car seat to commit to an entire season, and Mrs. Channing Tatum has a full-time job beating straight women and gay men off of her husband with a cudgel carved into the likeness of Matthew McConaughey. (Their characters here are technically named Leo and Teresa, but let’s not waste any of their precious and rapidly dwindling time learning extra names.)
The climax of the newlywed couple’s “Haunted Honeymoon” tour is not, as it turns out, a recreation of the classic Gilda Radner/Dom Delouise (in drag) performance of “Ballin’ the Jack” from the movie of the same name. No, the horned-up honeymooners are visiting the twelve hauntedest places in America … and banging in them. The last stop: Briarcliff Manor, an appropriately foreboding structure built in 1908 as a tiburculosis ward and bought by the Catholic Church in 1962 after 46,000 people had died within its walls. Said the Church: “We were looking for something with some real turn-of-the-century charm, and were determined not to be turned off by paint color, outdated fixtures, or a history of plague-like mass deaths.”
Mrs. Channing Tatum’s brochure tells her that in addition to Molton Brown toiletries and Frette linens, their luxury accommodation also features a “death chute” that was used to transport bodies of the infected out of the hospital and which now serves to birth to the immortal line “We should totally do it in the death chute.” She adds that the sanitarium’s most notorious guest was a serial killer named Bloody Face. Let’s assume that will come into play later.
As if on cue, Adam finds a hospital bed equipped with wrist and ankle straps and Jenna commands, “Tie me down.” Before you can say “And She Will Be Loved”, he’s strapped her in, dropped trou (sorry, fellas – no buns), and is introducing her to his Maroon Five-Plus.
But then… they hear something. She wants to go investigate, but he’s far too busy exploring a particularly inviting corridor. Eventually he relents and they jot off to the source of the sound, which gets Jenna so excited that she exclaims, “You could totally put it in my ass right now!” And they say romance is dead.
The source of the sound is a giant metal door with a slot in it (pay attention, because we’ll be back several times later). Adam excitedly sticks his cell phone through the slot but he can’t see anything. Inexplicably excited by the image of her husband elbow-deep in a steel gloryhole, Mrs. Tatum offers him a blowjob (sorry, censors – her word, not mine!) if he does it again…
He happily obliges, as does she. But moments later, something appears on the other side of the door to grab Adam’s phone … and, for good measure, half of his arm. He pulls his gnawed stump out of the hole, and also removes what’s left of his arm from the door.
And now the screaming starts.
The powers that be have decided to keep last season’s atmospheric, kicky jazz theme under the opening credits montage, which once again features fast-cut, disjointed images that likely serve as clues as to what lies ahead. Here are a few highlights:
People in cages
A woman in a white gown crab-walking up the stairs
A pig head: