There has almost always been horror on TV, but it is definitely one of the least represented genres on the tube. Dark Shadows, Kolchak, even The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits are held in high regard as some of the best genre shows ever. More recently it is hard to deny the quality or commercial success of AMC’s The Walking Dead. American Horror Story may not be reaching quite that level of recognition, but for my money it is not only equally as good, but maybe one of the most innovative, creative, stylish and disturbing shows to every hit the small screen. Season One was a hit with its twisted story of the ‘Murder House’, and Season Three, Coven, looks promising as well. But it is Season Two, Asylum, out this week, that really kicked into high gear and garnered the show seventeen Primetime Emmy Award nominations, more than any other show.
American Horror Story Asylum takes place primarily in 1964 at Briarcliff Mental Institution in Massachusetts. Founded by Monsignor Howard (Joseph Feinnes) and run by the intense Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), the decrepit Institution contains as much of a menagerie in its staff as it does in its patients. Among the residents of Briarcliff are lesbian journalist Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), alleged murderer Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré) and the newly arrived accused serial killer, Kit Walker (Evan Peters). Walker and Winters are instantly at odds with Sister Jude as well as the doctors at Briarcliff, scientist Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) and psychiatrist Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto).
To go beyond this basic introduction would be a futile act as American Horror Story Asylum has so much plot I would barely have room on multiple pages to lay it out for you. Needless to say, it is one of the most intricately written, deeply disturbing and most entertaining seasons of any television show I have ever seen. The acting across the board is phenomenal, especially by Jessica Lange whom before this series I was always hit and miss with at the movies. But American Horror Story has made me a bonafide fan of the actor’s. The layers that she creates for her characters (in both seasons) are simply unfathomable. And the style with which each episode is infused is dizzying, beautiful and brilliant. There is nothing like it nor has there ever been, on the small or big screen. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is gorgeous! Most of these cable shows look so much better on Blu-ray than they did during broadcast and American Horror Story Asylum is no exception. The picture here is practically flawless with gorgeous color, deep black levels and incredible clarity and detail. TV does not get better than this, period.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.