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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

Horror stories are made to engage your whole body. They make the hairs on the back of your neck perk up. They force you to wince or close your eyes.

FX's long-running American Horror Story is cut from an even darker, crazier cloth than the more run-of-the-mill variety. Why, it might make you laugh, cry, vomit, twitch, scratch your head in confusion and run maniacally from the living room—all in the space of 90 seconds.

The show's title is about two-thirds right. American Horror Story is American. And it is horror(ible). But the story part? Well, sometimes, that can be a bit … lacking.

Big Hair, Big Knives

FX's wacky freak-out show is a different beast than most long-running series. While it retains the same vibe and some of its players from season to season (and takes place in the same shared universe), everything else changes. From a family dealing with a house full of ghosts to a coven of New Orleans witches grasping for power, each season brings its own nightmares.

While Season Eight took us forward to an apocalyptic future, Season Nine takes us all the way back to… 1984: the height of big hair, leg warmers, the Jane Fonda aerobics craze and summer-camp horror films.

Salon.com's Matt Zoller Seitz writes, “If it were possible to take a classic early '60s camp horror movie, feed it massive amounts of cocaine, then turn it into a basic cable drama, the result might look like this.” Well, perhaps the execs at FX heard him, because that’s exactly what American Horror Story:1984 is all about.

After surviving an attack by the so-called Night Stalker (a narrative element based on real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez, who prowled and terrorized the streets of L.A. in 1984), new-in-town Brooke runs away with her friends to Camp Redwood to be a counselor for the summer. Of course, it isn’t until after they arrive that they discover Redwood was the site of “the worst summer camp massacre of all time” 14 years before. Moreover, the new owner of the camp, a woman named Margaret, was the only survivor of that carnage.

Margaret claims that Jesus saved her life and helped her to stay silent and motionless as the killer cut off her ear and added it to his necklace of “trophies.” Her purpose in reopening the camp was to take all of her horrible memories and turn them into something happy, to create a safe and wholesome place for children to spend their summers.

Incidentally, the man who caused her so much pain and strife is located just a short drive away at a local mental hospital. Mr. Jingles, as he was called, is incarcerated. It's no shock to anyone when he predictably escapes after discovering that he failed to kill Margaret. Now, he wants to finish the job, and he immediately gets to work terrorizing the new counselors.

A Show Only Edgar Allan Poe Could Love … Maybe

The series has been hailed by critics and frequently nominated for Emmys. But make no mistake: American Horror Story is flat-out, over-the-top, take-no-prisoners weird—perfect fodder for the snarky riff-meisters on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Or it would be if Tom Servo and Crow could manage to crack jokes between the gasps of horror and disgust they'd surely utter.

Each episode overflows with more sex and gore than you're likely to see anywhere else on basic cable. Slate's Troy Patterson once called the show "deliberately unhinged" and "a showcase for scenery chewing and giddy blasphemy, an exploitation chamber piece." Had Edgar Allan Poe seen the script for just one of these episodes, he would've laughed himself silly ... then buried the whole mess under the floorboards while glancing furtively over his shoulder.

Get Out the Knives

When interviewed for New York magazine when the show was still relatively new, creator Ryan Murphy defended his nightmare by saying the show's spooky-sexual ethos was cribbed from Dark Shadows, ABC's supernatural daytime soap from the 1970s. "My grandmother used to force me to watch Dark Shadows," he said. "Even when I was sobbing, she made me watch, to toughen me up."

Now Murphy's grandmother's lack of entertainment discernment has come back to haunt us all. Where was Plugged In in 1971 anyway?

It's a slow episode that doesn't feature some sort of murder, mutilation or scene of torture before every commercial break, most featuring R-level blood and gore. And when the violence wanes, it's often replaced with sexual deviancy and enough anti-religious, often blasphemous messages to make marble statues openly weep.

Morality? That's about the only thing truly dead and buried in American Horror Story.

Positive Elements

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Episode Reviews

Sept. 18, 2019: "Camp Redwood"
Sept. 9, 2018: "The End"
American Horror Story: Sept. 5, 2017 "Election Night"
American Horror Story: Oct. 5, 2016 "Chapter Four"
American Horror Story: Hotel - Oct. 14, 2015 "Chutes and Ladders"
AmericanHorrorStory: 10-15-2014
AmericanHorrorStory: 10-9-2013
AmericanHorrorStory: 10-17-2012
AmericanHorrorStory: 12-7-2011

Credits

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Cast

(Season Nine) Emma Roberts as Brooke Thompson; Billie Lourd as Montana Duke; Leslie Grossman as Margaret Booth; Cody Fern as Xavier Plympton; John Carroll Lynch as Mr. Jingles; DeRon Horton as Ray Powell; Gus Kenworthy as Chet Clancy; Matthew Morrison as Trevor Kirchner; Angelica Ross as Nurse Rita; Zach Villa as Richard Ramirez

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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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