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Stories of American Horror…

So here we now have a titilating new series broadcasting on FX channel in the uk, AMERICAN HORROR STORY. It perhaps is not the best, or worse new genre series, but it certainly is one very interesting one. What we do have is a series bold and brave enough to put out startlingly real sudden violence and genuinely horrific moments. I will now admit that I initially just caught a short burst of the first one or two episodes and was maybe confused, unimpressed. Well, that is partly down to the way we as audiences catch and pick up our shows we decide to follow. A couple weeks later, reading more about it in a magazine, I decided to record a few episodes.

Eventually making time to return to this new creepy show, I was finally fully impressed. For one thing, it is unapologetic horror drama on a big successful channel. It is serialised, not one off episodes like Tales from the Crypt or something. There really has not been too many genuine horror television series either from here in the UK or overseas in recent years that I can think of other than, a good while back a brave bizarre but bloody good series called URBAN HORROR on UK Channel 5.

With American Horror Story though, we have a fermenting, creeping ongoing narrative with a group of characters which seem to work very well. They are not all perfect, some are flimsy but most are interesting flawed individuals with some deeper dark edges.

There are some things which I see as frustrating such as how we, in the Uk seem to easily accept very ‘American’ shows, with strong accents, visual iconography, but when we try home grown fear television, it falls flat. I would think it could be because these American TV series easily conect and pick up where American movies leave off.

To talk about too many weaknesses now might be too easy. I would have to remember to discuss it as a television series, alongside any other similar series, and not compare with movies initially. Of course, it does owe a debt to TWIN PEAKS, many series still do. It feels very Hitchcock, and elements of Twilight Zone and Outer Limits seep in also.

The main point of ongoing interest, and where it seem to build steadily and with increasing dama well, is in the way that regularly the episodes involve flashbacks to many years earlier, revealing some previous nasty murders or deaths which continue to haunt the house. This is a good fresh narrative trick, as previously we generally have only witnessed haunted houses in movies, not over a series, allowing the writers and audience to explore with more time the characters, building, past, dangers around in much greater ways. Like many recent American TV series, this could tragically disappear before it really gets to show us real greatness, but hoprefully there is enough dark special horor there for us and producers to want to see much more at our own peril. 

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About JAMES E PARSONS

Author of science fiction novels Orbital Kin and Minerva Century-also horror, literary fiction, many short stories and screenplays. Always reading, writing, watching films, playing guitar/bass, and am a husband with a coffee addiction. New horror novel due for 2017. This is my blog, offshoot from my website. It will be where I post current thoughts, opinions, views, reviews, or discussions about contemporary film, movies, books, video games, television series mostly in the horror, science fiction, fantasy and their sub-genre offshoots. The entertainment not in the mainstream (for the most part) and proud of it. Also follow me on twitter- @ParsonsFiction, and facebook - James E Parsons

2 responses to “Stories of American Horror…

  1. I have yet to watch AHS and I’m not completely sold yet. I have gotten very involved with watching The Walking Dead (AMC), which I think is the best horror show on Television, ever. Its even better than most movies in the genre. I’m wondering if I need to watch AHS from the beginning or if I can just jump right in and still get a grasp of what’s going on.

    • I myself was unsure about AHS, only casually observed a few minutes of the first few episodes. After reading about it in a mag, I soon returned and luckily FX began to rerun it so I’ve caught the first few now and am about up to speed. It does have a weekly theme, the house and its past tenants but there is a continuing plot of the married couple, their troubles, their angst filled daughter, the bizarre disturbing neighbour, a few other recurring characters who shock and terrify. It is patchy but often really good too. For television at least. Walking Dead I do like, but find it just sometimes too similar to many of the ‘group of desperate survivors’ kind of series out there. But it comes from a good comic book source which is respectable.

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