Thursday, October 17, 2013

American Horror Story: Asylum Blu-ray Review

American Horror Story : Asylum was a mixed bag for me. When it was good it was very very good, but when it was bad it was completely gonzo, discordant and not cohesive. My overlying opinion is that it is a strong season, but that more than one episode may require either a re-watch or a firm suspension of disbelief (suspension bridge of disbelief is more like it). Mid-season, while it aired, I stopped watching it all together needing a breather from the plot bends and curves. I suppose that’s how the series gained popularity. It’s over the top, sexy, gore soaked and conveys the best of the best horror images from the collected body of horror cinema, fiction and reality. Asylum carries on the legacy of its predecessor well. It provides a little something for every horror fan and even the non-horror fans.

While there are numerous plot threads throughout the season with twists and turns, the main focus is over control. Control over one’s self, the asylum and of knowledge. Major themes include possession with an eye toward nunsploitation, Nazism (bordering on Naziploitation), alien encounters, homicidal maniac murder, undercover investigation turned into hostage crisis and what lurks in the basement of the den of insanity. The greatness of American Horror Story is its ability to weave these plots together with characters that are both loved and despised equally which is the case for Season 2 and, having just seen the introductory offering from Season 3: Coven, I will tell you that this founding premise and strength continues to hold up. 

This is true shock cinema made for the small screen for folks who have seen everything. While it has its limitations, AHS pushes the boundary of what can be considered acceptable from a horror TV program shown late into the evening. My favorite episode this season was Unholy Night which holds up strong on the re-watch and involves a killer Santa Claus (think back to every early 80’s Killer Santa you know horror fans… this is right up there). Well acted, seasonally appropriate and weaved into a story that otherwise has very little to do with Christmas. We don’t get to see too many Killer Santa’s on the TV proper so this was a treat. Not since the Tales from the Crypt HBO series do I remember another. 

As is now the tradition, actors from previous seasons return and take up new roles, often very different from the roles accepted in previous seasons. This means that they can show just how dynamic and versatile they are. This gave us a chance to appreciate Jessica Lange and company in comletely unique horrirfying positions. From evil mother to controlling nun turned mental patient. I also think that AHS is sort of what the makers of Halloween had planned for sequels before they realized that they couldn’t stray from Michael Myers after the flop of Halloween III. Each year, in October we get a new horror story for the season. Common threads, storytelling methods and concepts but completely unique plot devices. 

The disc contains special features including The Orderly, What is American Horror Story: Asylum?, Welcome to Briarcliff Manor, Creatures and Deleted Scenes.

American Horror Story: Asylum is available now through Amazon on beautiful Blu-ray disc with classic AHS packaging.

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