If I had to describe what watching American Horror Story is like to someone who has never seen it before, I’d say it’s like doing a puzzle – a very hard, round puzzle with no edges!
You have to be 100% on the ball, because it’s so difficult to fit each piece into the bigger picture as it gets handed to you.
With each revelation of how the seasons are connected, the puzzle becomes bigger, more intricate, more complicated.
As you view how the differing seasons feed into each other you, the viewer, take a step back and see the puzzle isn’t flat. It’s 3D.
Simply put, it’s kind of a writing masterpiece.
Oh, and did I mention it’s freaking terrifying at the best of times?!
Each season takes you on a roller coaster ride and always has you sitting on the edge of your seat, always guessing what’s coming next and always shocked when it catches you completely by surprise.
With such a hugely revered cast and such an incredibly talented team of people working behind the cameras, it’s no surprise the show has such a huge following.
So for those of you out there who are terrified of normal people, here are 30 freaky facts about American Horror Story for you.
“Normal People Scare Me”
The font in the opening credits, which has since become synonymous with the show and is plastered on t-shirts everywhere that say “Normal People Scare Me,” is a variation of the font Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
This font was inspired by the design style of the Scottish architect and designer of the same name.
Neil Patrick Harris & David Burkta were nearly in the first season.
Married couple Neil Patrick Harris and David Burkta were offered the roles of Chad Warwick and his boyfriend Patrick in Murder House, who were the two previous owners of the house before the Harmon family.
Instead, Zachary Quinto played Chad and Teddy Sears played Patrick, whilst NPH and David Burkta went on to have roles in Season 4.
Murder House used horror film scores for its soundtrack throughout the season.
Some of the most notable scores were from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, What Lies Beneath, Psycho and Insidious.
It also used the Twisted Nerve whistle, originally from Twisted Nerve, but more recently whistled by Daryl Hannah in the iconic Kill Bill:Vol 1 scene.
Jessica Lange originally turned down the role of Constance in Season 1.
However she accepted it after Ryan Murphy repeatedly offered it to her. Thank the Gods that he persisted!
Ryan Murphy and Jessica Lange went on to become great friends during Season 1.
So much so that Murphy consulted her on her upcoming roles in future seasons.
Lange wanted to do a big drunk scene and a musical number in Season 2, which is why Sister Jude has that epic drunken monologue and does that sick Name Game number.
Lange had always wanted to play a character that dresses in Chanel and is very elegant, which is why Fiona was always dressed to the nines in Coven.
Outside of being an actress, Lange is a photographer who has always been drawn to the circus word, especially of the 50s, so therefore Elsa Mars was the owner of a freak show in Season 4.
Murder House appears in other shows.
Season 1’s titular Murder House is a real location that has done the rounds in a few different shows.
Actually the Rosenheim Mansion in Los Angeles, this house has been a popular filming set in TV over the years, having appeared before in Buffy, Bones, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Law & Order: SVU.
The location for Season 2’s titular Asylum is also a real location, being a historic courthouse in Orange County, California.
The title for Season 2, Asylum, has a dual meaning to it.
It both describes the setting of the season, as well as using the term to signify a haven for the unwanted and the unloved.
Lana’s journalistic exposé about Briarcliff Manor at the end of Asylum is based on a real life event.
It was pulled directly from actual footage of Bill Baldini’s exposé piece on Pennhurst Asylum, which revealed the terrible living conditions of the patients kept there and led to the closure of Pennhurst and the release of all its patients.
The recurring Montgomery family.
Emma Roberts’s deliciously bitchy Madison Montgomery from Coven is related to Dr. Charles Montgomery, the original owner of the Murder House.
Madison and the good doctor are both similar in the fact they both tried – and partly succeeded – in bringing someone back to life.
Charles did it to his son Thaddeus, and Madison did it to Kyle.
The Black Sabbath Freak Show connection.
The three notes you hear playing repeatedly in the Freak Show intro are actually a sample of the opening notes of killer rock band Black Sabbath’s self-titled song.
They are played a couple octaves higher and on violins, and are also played during the end credits.
The real Lobster Man.
Even Peters’s character from Freak Show, Jimmy Darling, was based on a real man called Grady Stiles Jr., who was born with fused fingers and toes.
Freak Show’s songs By “Freaks.”
In Season 4, there were a few songs that were sung by characters which were released after 1952, when the show is set.
Chief among them were Jessica Lange’s awesome covers of Bowie’s Life On Mars and Lana Del Ray’s Gods & Monsters, as well as Even Peters’s cover of Nirvana’s Come As You Are.
A fair few viewers complained about this, but the show’s creator Ryan Murphy has said in an interview that he picked songs by artists who labeled themselves as “freaks.”
You can stay at the witches’ academy.
Miss Robichaux’s Academy, where all the witches live in Coven and Apocalypse is actually the Buckner Mansion in New Orleans.
You can stay there for the night, but it’ll cost you $20,000 to rent!
Kathy Bates’s Baltimore research.
To prep for her role as Baltimoreon bearded lady Ethel Darling, Kathy Bates prepped for putting on the thick accent by listening to interviews with US senator Barbara Mikulski, and consulted a “Baltimorese” website.
Jessica Lange’s favorite season.
Freak Show was Jessica Lange’s favorite season.
Two heads take longer to film than one.
Every scene involving Bette and Dot in Season 4 took longer than 10 hours to film.
This is because it had to be repeated several times over in order to cover all the interactions between Sarah Paulson, who played both roles of course, and all the other actors.
Talk about dedication.
The real Hotel Cortez.
The Hotel Cortez of Season 5 (and also a little bit of 8) is based on a real Los Angeles hotel called the Hotel Cecil. Much like the Cortez, the Cecil has a very dark and chilling history.
Over its years, the Hotel Cecil has had many suicides and murders occur on its grounds, and hit the news headlines recently in 2013 when a young Canadian woman, Elisa Lam, was mysteriously found dead in a water tank on the roof.
Alongside this, the Hotel Cecil also hosted the serial killers Jack Unterwger and Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez, who is depicted in Hotel at James Patrick Marsh’s party.
Horror Story & Crime Story back to back.
Sarah Paulson missed being in three episodes of Hotel because she was shooting it in tandem with American Crime Story.
A song request by Aileen Wuornos.
When Aileen Wuornos (played sublimely by Lily Rabe) is first introduced in Hotel, the song Carnival by Natalie Merchant plays.
This song was requested by the real Aileen Wuornos to be played at her funeral after her execution.
The Chicken Coup Murders.
Season 5’s subplot focuses on the “chicken coup murders” and is based on a real series of events by the same name.
This is significant because Dennis O’Hare, who gave the performance of a lifetime as Liz Taylor in Hotel, was also in the 2008 movie Challenging, which is also based on the “chicken coup murders”.
Lady Gaga is a huge fan of the show.
Lady Gaga is such a big fan of American Horror Story that she approached Ryan Murphy asking to join the show, rather than the other way around.
A Roanoke tease in season 1.
The concept for my favorite season, Roanoke, is teased in Murder House, when Sarah Paulson’s psychic Billie Dean Howard tells the story of the ghost colony of Roanoke and how a native elder banished the violent spirits of all the men, the women, and the children too by saying “Croatoan.”
The recurring Mott family.
Edward Phillipe Mott from Roanoke (played by Even Peters in the dramatized segments of the show) is a distant ancestor of Dandy Mott from Freak Show.
This is even referenced by the historian in Roanoke who says
“The house remained in the Mott trust for over a century, but it was always said madness ran in the family. The line ended in scandal when the last Mott died in south Florida in 1952.”
As previously mentioned, Freak Show takes place in South Florida during 1952.
A recommendation for a co-star.
Alison Pill’s role as Ivy in Season 7, Cult, was partially down to Sarah Paulson.
Ryan Murphy asked her who she would like to act with in that role and Sarah Paulson chose Alison Pill.
A season ending full of life.
Due to the timeline being reset, Apocalypse is the only season to end with all the characters alive.
Except for Michael, of course, although that’s open for debate seeing as the anti-Christ did come back into the world…
I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!
Asylum and Cult are the only two seasons (so far) to not feature ghosts.
Clues for the future.
There are references or clues to all future seasons in Season 1 except for Freak Show and Cult.
Competition for Misery.
Both Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates were in competition for the role of Annie Wilkes in Stephen King’s 1990 Misery.
A role which Kathy Bates went on to win an Oscar for.
Nobody has featured in every episode.
No actor has appeared in every episode. The only two characters to appear in every season (so far) are Sarah Paulson and Even Peters.
The two biggest stars.
Between the two of them in 8 seasons, Even Peters and Sarah Paulson have played a huge 23 different roles.
Even Peters has played the most roles with 14, having done 6 of them in Cult.