American Horror Story Asylum

Another Season of AHS Bites The Dust

Well, it’s over.

And it ended as it began but I for one, still have about 148 questions.

It’s the present day and we meet Lana and her new sapphic squeeze, an opera singer or performer of some sort, as she’s being interviewed  by a TV news crew and Lord, did the make-up people work on her face, to give her a necessary seventy or eighty year old look.   Apparently, she’s an accomplished author with six–count ‘em–six best selling novels and not only that, she’s apparently, a TV personality too;  an investigative reporter and host of her own  TV show, you know the kind–that  of the crime solving genre.  She’s also about to be honored at the Kennedy Center.

Apparently, her ambitious need to expose Briarcliff as the hell hole it is, is what catapulted her to such success.     The expose began as a documentary.  She and a camera crew sneak into Briarcliff courtesy of that secret tunnel that Sister Satan introduced to at the very beginning.     We hear how she demanded to see Sister Jude who according to Lana tells us, is still there, lo those many years later.

We treated to a scene of Lana and company entering Jude’s cell, dark and dank and dirty, and on what was once a bed–I think–sits a clump of humanity with wilder than wild hair.   The camera lights prove it’s Jude, who was left in Briarcliff and forgotten.   Jude was the only source left that could prove how the Church (when it owned the asylum)  had looked the other way with regards to mistreatment and scientific experiments.

But is it really Jude?  Nah, that was either Lana’s poetic license…OR…..really bad editing.

We learn that Kit actually rescued Jude and took her home to live with him and his two kids.  The Sister Wives are no longer part of the equation.   His mulato wife killed grace with a couple of ax whacks in the back.    Jude’s name is now Betty Drake.   Kit said he did it–took Jude into his home–as his way of forgiving and forgetting all that crap that happened to him at Briarcliff.    Taking care of Jude, he felt, was his redemption.

He conveys to Lana that it was rough going for a while.  After a lengthy detox, Jude was sedated for years.   She’d forget where she was from time to time and think she was back at Briarcliff and scream and carry on, yelling at Kit’s kids mostly.  She couldn’t understand why there were kids around her.  There was no children’s ward at Briarcliff.

Years later while in the midst of a swing dance lesson, Jude develops a bloody nose.    I’m thinking leukemia    We see her on her death bed, whispering life lessons to Kit’s kids.

To the son: Don’t take shit from the man.

To the daughter:  Never let men dominate you.

The kids are sent out of the room and Jude sees the Angel of Death making her last appearance in the corner of the room.   There she is, decked out in black, wings fully extended  and all puckered up to give Jude that final kiss that’ll take her up, up and away.

Or down, down, down, if you believe the Old Testament.

So, by 38 minutes into the season finale, Jude dies and we’re whisked back to present day.  Lana accomplished her goal and closed down Briarcliff.     She decides to take on the Monsignor–now a Cardinal in New York.   She says he knows about Dr. Arden, the experiments…the cruelty, etc., and we learn that he offs himself in a bathtub.    Slit wrists which are oozing life, turn the bathwater to a deep crimson.

Lana then tells the reporter that  she carried Bloody Face’s child to full term and gave him up for adoption.   His name is Johnny.    We’ve met him before.  Dylan McDermott’s character is genetically programmed to grow up to be the be Son of Bloody Face and all that that implies.   His made an effort to pick up where his father left off.    We saw evidence of that.

Anyway, Lana continues on with the interview and expresses regret for giving him up, but felt she had no other options.    And wouldn’t you know, Johnny seemingly part of the  camera crew.   He even hands her some water during a break in the interview.    Somehow, she knows it’s her son.    After the camera crew leaves, she gets up to make herself a drink and knows he stayed behind. She  implores him to finally come out of hiding to ‘get this thing over with.”  She knows he’s about to kill her.  Johnny is a psychotic sure, but he’s also an angry whack job, which never bodes well.    He was a screwed up kid, in and out of Juvie and now here he is, 48 years old and wanting to whack his mother for giving him away and killing his father.

He pulls a gun on her, but she turn the tables and sweetly convinces Johnny that he’s not only a part of his maniacal father, but he’s also a part of he That means he has at least half the capacity to be a decent human being.     He relinquishes the gun and she takes it away from him, only to point it at his forehead and shoots.

Bang!!!!

Like father, like son.

The show segues back to the very first show, when Lana was desperately trying to gain access to Briarcliff to get an exclusive with Bloody Face.  She gained access to Jude’s office through a ruse.    She claimed she wanted to do a fluff piece on the asylum’s bakery which apparently makes a dandy bread.   Jude escorts her to the front door after learning that the all she really wanted was an interview with Bloody Face who was supposed to be brought to Briarcliff for mental assessment.   She reminds Lana how difficult life can be for a woman with lofty goals and ambitions.  This was 1962.    The last thing we hear; the last thing we see are these two women facing each other with glares that had laser-like intensity.    This was how the first scene with Lana and Jude ended 51 years ago, when Jude realized Lana only wanted to interview Bloody Face.   Jude tells her that whenever you look into the eyes of evil, evil looks back at you.

Then, Lana leaves and Jude turns around as the  camera pans to the face of  a shiny, glossy statue of the Virgin Mary which stands in Briarcliff’s foyer.   The head is tilted as if glancing in the nun’s direction.    Gee, no hidden anti-Catholic sentiment there, huh?

I suppose it’s safe to say that Lana’s stint in the snake pit that was Briarcliff didn’t turn Lana into some cold, emotionless bitch with ambitions large enough to choke a whale.   Lana entered Briarcliff that way and walked through its doors unchanged.    Sister Jude recognized that right off the bat and in her special, ‘no holds barred’ manner, told her so.    She wasn’t predicting Lana’s life per se, but she certainly called it.   Lana didn’t have what Jude or Kit had:   at least a small period in life where there was peace and normalcy.

If I’m right, then I’ll give the writers a rate-a-record score of 79 for adding a smidge of pathos, but was it enough?   Not for me, then again, I’ve come to expect a certain shoddiness with AHS..

Characters were killed off too soon.   There were more holes in the plot line than in Bonnie and Clyde’s ambushed car.   We didn’t get to spend much time in Johnny’s head.   I could’ve used an episode delving into all of his angst.    What about that evil little girl who killed her friend and then her whole family?    What happened to the crazy ass serial masterbator????  And Kit’s alien space babies?    The ones that were so ‘special’?     One grew up to be a doctor, the other a lawyer.    Hhhhh’mmmmm, do those two occupations in this day and age really make them all that ‘special’?   Well, for a Jewish mother, maybe……

Lana was the only major character who survived.   Sister Satan and Dr. Arden were burned to death in the asylum’s crematorium.  Threadson was shot in the head several episodes back.    The Monsignor/Cardinal committed suicide. As far as I’m concerned, all three deaths happened prematurely and allowed a season finale that was anti-climatic.   In the finale, Jude died of cancer and so did Kit, although he was abducted by the same bright white light that became an obscure third or fourth level character on the show this season.   Why wasn’t this connection to space beings expounded  upon?  Why did those space freaks murder and mutilate all those women?    What happened to Pepper the Pinhead???     And why couldn’t we learn more about the forest dwelling  critters that Arden created?   And soooooo much more could’ve been done with the satanic angle, but nooooooooo!!!!!!

Season two jumped the shark so many times that poor thing’s dorsal fin was sheared off.

Anyway, I wasn’t as colossally disappointed as I was when season one ended.  And while I have questions, I think  that the unscripted dangling participles that I swat away like slimy tentacles are supposed to make me  come up with my own answers; my own conclusions.   Whenever I encounter endings like this in books, TV shows, movies and such,  I hearken back to a press conference I attended back in 1993.  girl coat

Directing wunderkind, Steven Spielberg came to Houston on a press tour promoting his boffo hit, “Schindler’s List.”     This involved filling a theater with local   high school kids, have them watch the movie then he would take their questions about the flick.   All members of the press could do was watch and at least in my case, learn.

One astute young woman asked Herr Spielberg about the little Jewish girl in the Warsaw ghetto who had worn the pinkish red coat;  the only bit of color in the black and white film.   Her question focused on the coat color and what that  was supposed to mean.

He responded without missing a beat, “It means whatever you need it to mean.”

That day, I learned that poetic license was a tool that the story teller could use at his or her discretion and it’s one that sometimes, an audience member has to employ as well.

scoobydoo_02And in spite of my many criticisms, I can’t wait for  Season 3.

Seriously, I can’t.

As for plotlines, I’m thinking a family of vampires moves into an abandoned but still ‘hot’ nuclear power plant and the fun begins when genetic mutations run amok while angry neighbors who complain, mysteriously after a  mod painted van called “The Mystery Machine” filled with four hips kids including one beatnik lookin’ cat named Shaggy who pals around with his  giant, snack eating, running in place while bongos play, talking dog with a speech impediment, arrives on the scene.

And here I’ll be at my keyboard poised at the ready in the  minutes after the  finale ends, closing the curtain on yet another fakakta AHS season.  That’s when and where  I’ll hold writers/creators Ryan Murphy and Bryan Falchuk  responsible for series of shows that leave more questions unanswered, throw logic out the window and could have been/should have been so much better.

And because of that, I’ll fully expect one or both to appear on camera and admit that they would’ve gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!!!!!

American Horror Story/Asylum: Episode Eight

Tonight’s offering:    Unholy Night.  American-Horror-Story-Season-2-Episode-8-Unholy-Night-2-550x366

And yes, based on what I watched for roughly 42 minutes, I’d say it was.

Loved the intro.

It’s a few days before Christmas, 1962.  A one Mr. Lee Emerson is a psychopath who kills a red kettle, bell ringing Santa Claus in front of a closed grocery store.  He takes the suit and breaks into a suburban home where  he befriends a little girl who hears a noise and comes downstairs.  She greets him and acknowledges that Santa has a massive blood stain on his chest.  He’s playing  with the electric train encircling her FABULOUS aluminum Christmas tree.   He ends up killing her mom and dead after tying them up with Christmas lights.   What happened to their daughter–the one  with the badly feigned New England accent we’ll never know.

And I had to laugh at all the double entendres he offered his victims, one he threatened to rape, both he made clear he would kill:

  • The difference between that Santa and me is that he only comes once a year
  • Come on,  there’s always at least one big ticket in Santa’s sack.

A year later, we’re invited to a  Christmas party-slash-photo op in the Common Room at Briarcliff.   Mr. Emerson is there with the other inmates and yes, he’s shackled.   Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Suburbia and Santa Claus weren’t the only people he killed.   There were 15 murder others that night.    Sister Jude is ramrodding things and making it clear she wants Emerson in the photo–front and center–to assure residents in the area that he’s in custody.   Well apparently, ‘thems fightin’ words” to this mass murderer.  He then does his best Hannibal Lector impersonation and bites the face and neck of one of the orderlies.  For his actions, he’s sent to solitary confinement somewhere in the bowels of Briarcliff.

Speaking of bowels, Dr. Arden admits his Nazi past during an interesting session with Sister Satan.   He offers her a large pair of ruby earrings.  She goes gaga over them.  The devil loves anything red, dontcha know.  She asks where he got them;  if they’re a family heirloom.  He tells her no, they belonged to a wealthy Jewess in one of the camps who kept the jewels hidden by swallowing them over and over again…even to the point of digging through her own feces to find them….only to swallow them again  She didn’t want the Nazis to have them.      Well, she ends up dying of intestinal sepsis and internal bleeding.  Seems all those jewels wreak havoc on a human G.I. tract.  This little tidbit doesn’t bother Sister Satan in the least.

But the fact that she greedily accepts the present–in spite of its horrific past—concerns Dr. Arden.   He realizes that this isn’t the Sister Mary Eunice he once fantasized about.  No this…this thing in a nun’s outfit is evil and with his past, he ought to know.   He meets with Sister Jude who’s been banished from Briarcliff.   He realizes they need to join forces to fight Sister Satan.   And yes, both  Arden and Jude know that the devil is inhabiting the young novice’s body.  But this only proves to be a scheme to prove the ex-Nazi’s loyalty to Sister Satan and the power pact they have between them.  You know—world domination.    You can take the boy out of the Reichstag, but can you ever take the Reichstag out of the boy????

In fact, in an earlier scene, Sister Jude sneaks back in to Briarcliff and bends over Sister Satan and holds a straight razor to her neck, telling her that if she kills Mary Eunice she’ll free her soul and banish Satan back to hell.   Sister Satan says that’s crap and that all she can do is cane the devil out of Mary Eunice.   All of a sudden, the cabinet door opens and several stage hands who are off camera, throw canes at Jude’s hunched over butt.

Another funny scene takes place in the Commons Room.    Sister Satan is hosting a Christmas party for the inmates.  There’s a tree but because of Sister Jude’s hard assitude, there are no ornaments.  So Sister Satan improvises.  She cuts bows off female inmates heads–hair still attached.  She uses empty pill boxes….even one inmate’s dentures.   Festive.

Meanwhile, Lana discovers Kit is in a bed next to hers in the hospital.  She tells him that she was kidnapped by Threadson and he’s the real Bloody Face.  If you remember, she’s still recovering from a massive accident two weeks ago and of course ,he was injured battling one of Dr. Arden’s in the kitchen last week.   Remember, one of the guard’s shot Grace who jumped in the way to take a bullet for Kit who’d escaped from jail and returned to Briarcliff to rescue her.    She was recovering from an erstwhile hysterectomy at the hands…er uh…at the ‘tentacles” of  space aliens which apparently, also inhabit that bullshit barn of horrors.   All guards were given a ‘shoot on sight’ order.

As for the dead creature, all we know about him or it,  is that one of the guards is having a bout with conscious and feels the cops need to be called in.  He references one of them–dead in last week’s attack–hidden away in some room.  Dr. Arden says nah, don’t involve any outsiders.   So, now we know he’s going to die which he does–later–because Sister Satan slashes his neck and plans on blaming it on Emerson the Killer who she allowed to play Santa Claus at the part in the Common Room.  He’s sitting there, an inmate on his lap.  he propositions her.  Something about getting savage with each other and sucking something.  Sister Satan  then sigs him on Sister Jude who came back to Briarcliff as a ruse to kill Sister Satan.

As for that part of the story, just as Emerson is about to rape Jude (he’s already beaten the crap out of her) she finds a letter opener on the desk and jabs him in the neck.   He bleeds out and keels over.  But does he die?    Not sure but I do know this much:    irony of ironies, what Jude did will all but ensure that she ends up an inmate in her own asylum.   Revenge is a bitch.

Lana sneaks into an office and finds a phone to call the authorities and in the process, is found by Dr. Threadson who learned of Lana’s post accident whereabouts in a news story.  He’s about to strangle her when Kit suddenly bursts through the door and bops him on the head.  Lana insists  she needs to kill him but Kit says no, he needs Threadson alive because he’s the only who can prove he didn’t kill his wife or anyone else.  They tie him up. As the scene ends, Lana says one day, “I’ll bury you”,.

Hhhhhhhhmmmmm…interesting.

Lastly, Threadson is seen escorting Grace’s body (that child has been on ice for a week!!) down the Death Chute when suddenly, he hears an ear-piercing noise and bright lights.   He passes out for a flash and VOILA!!!   Grace’s body is gone.   They aliens already have her uterus.  They came back for the rest of her.

A couple of things to note:   Lana is seen earlier heaving up her lunch in a bed pan…only thing is, she tells the nun/nurse she hasn’t eaten.   I’ll ask the obvious question here.  The one we all have:  could she be pregnant??

WITH THREADSON’S CHILD???????

And could Dylan McDermott (who thanks to a preview of next week’s AHS, we learn will make an appearance), be Bloody Face, Version 2.5???     A few episodes back, the opening scene included several murder victims all strung up in the rafters of the current dilapidated Briarcliff.   It included a phone call made to the cops.  Someone saying that he’d been a ‘bad boy” and that imposters are dead at the old asylum.  The voice sounded like Mr. Mac and if that’s the case, that would sure answer that timeline question we’ve all asked about Bloody Face then and Bloody Face now.

With Dylan McDermott as  The Son Of Bloody Face, that would explain how the maniacal acts are still being perpetrated more than 50 years later.

We shall she, kiddies.   We shall see.

American Horror Story/Asylum: Episode Seven

Hosting eleven for Thanksgiving dinner  last week precluded  me from commenting about episode six though God knows there was a lot to discuss.   All I can say is “Baby needs colostrum” now joins “show me your mossy banks” in the pantheon of exceedingly strange AHS phrases that have peppered the dialog this season.   I have no doubt there will be more to come.

Tonight’s episode, “Dark Cousin”, focused on that age-old literary struggle, good versus evil.

A new character named Miles is fighting schizophrenic voices as he helps prepare sandwiches in the Briarcliff.   A nun is using a meat slicer to hack off some bologna when one of the voices tells Miles to grab it by the wrists.   The next scene, he’s on a stretcher,  there’s blood everywhere and on the wall, scribed in the crimson stuff is a word.  It looks like it’s spelling out “one” in funky lettering but when Sister Satan enters the room, she informs us that its ancient Aramaic.  She then she asks our Bleeding Buddy on the gurney if he summoned “her’.

‘What? Huh??”, inquires the dazed self-induced hemophiliac.

He’s wheeled away and placed in a room as a panicked Sister Satan runs amuck, obviously bothered by the fact that  “one” is now at Briarcliff.

The next scene we find a restrained Miles telling the guard he doesn’t want to be at Briarcliff any longer.  In fact, he no longer wants to be in this world any longer.  When the guard leaves, a woman in black  appears at the foot of his bed.   At first, I thought it was actress May Steenburgen  She looked familiar.  It was Frances Conroy, who played  Moira the maid last season.   The older milk eyed version.

She reminds Miles that he in fact, summoned her and then asks if she can basically kiss him and make it all better.    She puckers up and when she does, she sprouts black wings that while large in terms of span, look awfully paltry feather-wise.    They were sparse;  like something you’d find in a discount costume shop.   She obviously has killer kisses.   Miles dies.  Just then, she realizes that someone is at the cell door.

It’s Sister Satan.

She walks in; they recognize each other.  Black Angel Cheap Wings calls her “Cousin” and soon realizes that as angels go, she’s the fallen one.

Lucifer.

And she knows that he/she is inhabiting the young nuns body.   For a second, Sister Mary Eunice comes screaming through possessor.    Sister Satan  reclaims her host, and sends Black Angel Cheap Wings away saying she’s already done what she came to Briarcliff to do.

I’m assuming this is the Angel of Death, sans the large scythe and cloak and hood.

She also pays a visit to Lana after Threadson rapes her.  Incest on top of serial murder???????  What a cad!!    But Lana tells her ‘no’.

A little back story;  we learned last week that he felt Lana was his ideal mother figure.    But it seems that even homicidal maniacs have a conscious and a disdain for their own Oedipal issues.   He decides his indiscretion was reason enough to waste Lana, but a struggle ensues, she bops Threadson over the head with the photo of Wendy, her lover and manages to break free.  She runs out of Threadson murderous pied à terre and on to the highway where wouldn’t you know, she flags down one a driver, which happens to be one of THEE angriest misogynist on the planet.

He hates women; holds them responsible for every pain and misery he has and pulls out of gun and shoots himself as his ’61 Plymouth goes out of control and careens into a tree.   Black Angel Cheap Wings makes an appearance in the backseat and once again offers Lana a homecoming, but declines once again.  The next thing we know, Lana is back in Briarcliff and under Sister Satan’s care.

She tells the horned one that Threadson is Bloody Face and that his tastefully decorated home has a basement of horrors.  Sister Satan remembers conveying this while possessing the body of the Farm Boy ( yet another serial masterbater that we met in Episode Two).  He told Threadson who was in attendance that he appreciated his handiwork.

Sister Satan believes Lana, then sedates her, assuring her that she’s safe.  No one knows she’s at Briarcliff.

We also learn that Kit/Tate escaped from prison.  He’s on his way back to Briarcliff to get Grace who was abducted by aliens and Kit’s wife a few weeks ago.  Remember?   The performed an ersatz hysterectomy on her.

Sister Satan tells Dr. Arden that he  botched the sterilization that Sister Jude ordered after she caught Grace and Kit screwing around.   Arden denies it all and resents the way Sister Satan is addressing him.   He’s about to hit her and she goes all Reagan McNeal on her and like a scene out of the The Exorcist, telekinetically bitch slaps him and like Fathers Merrin and Karras from the movie, flings him half way across the room.

A classic coup’d tat deftly handled.  And Arden knows all too well there’s been a transfer of power.

The story line with Sister Jude is getting interesting.   She’s been reassigned and his leaving Briarcliff, but has to handle a few things first.  Like getting the Nazi Hunter she enlisted a few episodes ago to properly deal with Arden, who we all know was a doctor within the Third Reich.   But Sister Satan killed him with a piece of mirror.   A large shard right to the jugular!

Jude finds him in a bloody mess in his bathroom.    She calls an ambulance but stops short when she senses he had died.   And he does.   Black Angel Cheap Wings appears out of nowhere kisses him (this has got to be the proverbial kiss of death).   Last week, he lived long enough to tell Jude that one of her nun’s was the perp.

Jude looks up and taped on the TV screen is a news article from 1949…a story about the little girl she hit while on a drunken bender.   There’s a few flashbacks and we see Jude in her civies sitting in the sadly appointed living room of a typical New England couple.   They are Missy’s parents, we soon learn.  Missy is/was the little girl in the blue coat that was out playing in the road late one night; the hit and run that changed everything.

Well,  in walks an adult Missy in a nurse’s uniform.

She survived????

Huh??   How did Sister Satan not know this???    Maybe because Old Scratch can only get in our heads and root around to get at our biggest fears and guilt trips.    Therefore, if Jude thought Missy Blue Coat Front Bumper Fodder was in fact dead, so would Sister Satan.  She’d play off that.

Earlier, Jude imagined slitting her wrists in the Tastee Freeze bathroom.   She walked out and encountered Black Angel Cheap Wings who she recognized.  Seems Jude has threatened to take her own life many times before.  The two are old pals.   She tries to talk Jude into finally letting go; seek the peace only Black Angel can offer.

“Let’s French!!!!”, she all but suggests.

No, insists Jude.   There’s at least one more thing to take care of before that ultimate swappage of spit.  And that was to confess to Missy’s grieving parents which ultimately, created one helluva monastic tap dance in the living room of Missy’s parents.   Jude was dumbfounded when Missy and her cat eye glasses walked into the room.  She’d spent 13 years thinking she killed Missy.    But was injured and there’s still the matter of the hit and run; the failure to stop to render aid.

Lastly, Kit/Tate makes his way back to Briarcliff and darts in and out of the tunnels in an effort to find Grace and run away with her.  He bursts through the kitchen door.  She’s eating  a snack with a nun.   Yes, she’s better now—up and walking around thanks to the miracle of sulfa drugs and Bactine administered by Dr. Arden, earlier in the show.   But the guards know he’s an escapee and have been ordered to shoot him on sight.    one was nearby and heard the nun scream.  He goes into the kitchen; sees Kit and shoots, but Grace ends up taking the bullet for him.  Shot in the gut.    Then one of Arden’s forest dwelling human eating creatures with the single quail plume-like dreadlock thing hanging from his head attacks the guards, then Kit, but Kit gets in one good lick and stabs him in the stomach and his entrails or something, falls all over the kitchen floor.

As Grace lies there, Black Angel Cheap Wings appears above her and yes, they kiss and yes, Grace dies.

She is free, she whispers.

Then we’re treated to next week’s previews.   It’s the Christmas edition of this season of  AHS.  Nothing says Yuletide quite like a crazed inmate in a Santa suit.  Can’t wait.

As I mentioned in the beginning, good and evil are the focus here.  It just so happens to these two things converge at an asylum.   One thing is becoming apparent—from Arden’s Nazi past, to Grace’s murder of her family and of course, Sister Jude’s crazy ass life, evil is a part of  man’s existence on this Big Blue Marble.   We have to deal with it.   Try as we might, we can’t erase that which we’ve experienced, nor can we turn a blind eye to it.   All the characters this season hammer the point home that the evil and good are real;  they exist independently, but they can’t co-exist, not without consequences.

That said, I’m beginning to think that the asylum is like some form of Purgatory.  For those not raised under the tent of Catholic dogma, Purgatory is the condition of purification or temporary punishment before entrance to the Pearly Gates.   Here’s the ecclesiastical 4-1-1, kids.

According to the Church and Wikipedia,  immediately after death, a person undergoes  judgment in which the soul’s eternal destiny is specified. Some are  united with God;  others reach a state known as Hell, the  eternal separation from God often envisioned as a fiery, sulfur smelling place of punishment, misery and Lawrence Welk  records.   Apparently, it’s by one’s own free will that a person enters into the state of hell.  It’s willful entry.

Conversely, one could argue that would apply to the opposite destination.  Those who die in a state of grace are believed to be prepped and readied to  move on up–to the Eastside.  To that dee-lux apartment in the sky….eye….eye.

You know, Heaven.

I know that’s thought process, especially when applied to this show, is as insane as one of Briarcliff’s inmate.   I tried to approach last season from a psycho/social mindset and I couldn’t have been more wrong.    There was no Miltonian metaphor.  No deep seeded Faustian explanation.  The house was merely haunted.   With ghosts.   Phantams.  Spectors…Ronnie AND Phil.

But all I know regarding this season so far is simple: if there IS a purgatory, a place for those who lived the worst life  to be  given the choice of redemption and head north….↑ (towards the sound of harps)

or south↓ (where da brimstone at!!!)

Briarcliff would be it.

American Horror Sstory/Asylum: Episode Five

My..my..my..my..my.

Dr. Threadson revealed he is Bloody Face.

Or did he??????

Why would the creative team of Falchuk and Murray shoot their wad so quickly?  I mean, the identity of the person behind Bloody Face is this season’s Latex Onesey Gimp.   And by the way, I still feel that one of last year’s MAJOR AHS plot flaws was a failure to reveal anything about this black shiny masochistic device, as in why Tate wore it.  Why he killed while wearing it.  We all knew he could kill without it.   Remember the exterminator in the basement?   There were other murders he committed without the suit as well.

So, why reveal five episodes in that Threadson is Bloody Face?

Okay, I’ll accept that he might be a murderer–he might even be the real Bloody Face,  but I’ll bet you ANY amount of money that BF version 2012 isn’t Threadson, unless he’s also gotten that Dorian Grey thing down.  Remember, this season takes place in 1964.   For Threadson to still be whacking and hacking today, he’d have to be in his 80’s.  The Bloody Face that attacked the haunted house touring honeymood couple, Adam Levine and the Mila Kunis/Selena Gomez clone in the first episode, sure was agile and fast for an octogenerian.

We’ll have to dissect this further once we learn more about Threadson and his plans diabolique for future female victims.

Meanwhile, LOVED the homage to Ed Gein with the nipple’s clearly visible in the lampshade made out of skin in Threadson fabu 60’s bachelor pad.   Old Eddie was one extremely interesting homicideal maniac who was the inspiration behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of The Lambs.  He’d kill, rob graves and keep trophies of his exploits.   A chair made or real human args and legs, etc.

Even the candy bowl on Threadson’s coffee table was the top of a skull.   Cool, as was the trap door in his…uh “work room”.    If you remember, Threadson took a fancy to reporter Lana Winters and promised he could/would rescue her from Briarcliff.   He made good with her promise.   He walked her right out, put her in her front seat of his car and even told an aproaching gaurd sent by Sister Jude to find him, that he no longer worked at Briacliff.  In fact, he insisted that the guard tell her that “he never had worked there”.

Makes me wonder if he was ever really a shrink and just a well educated maniac who lied his way in to Briarcliff to find who or what he was looking for.  I mean, hey–for a serial murder with a penchant for crazy, asylums make victims ripe for the picking.   And after last night’s episode, it sounds almost like Lana will be spared because she’s a reporter and this murderous psychopath-slash- narcissist wants his story told.   Perhaps Lana will get the story, but she’ll have to go tbrough  HELL to get it written.  He took the face off of Lana’s lover who he attacked in episode two and made a mask out of it.    He crudely placed her teeth in and around the lips and asked Lana to give it a big old wet one.

Nercophelia is bad enough, but add dismemberment to the issue?????

Ed Gein was in to that, too.

Also, I’ve inclined to think that Grace (the French chick with the shag haircut) never went under the knife for her sterilization.  I think she was abducted by the aliens from her cell (which by way, looked very much like the one Adam Levine’s wife hid from Bloody Face in).   She was awakened by this approaching bright light and grinding metal on metal sound and just before we went to commercial, we were offered an extreme close up of Graces face and eventually her eye, and in a pinpoint light next to her pupil,  you could see an image of something–it was either an octopus….a Portuguese Man of War…..OR….one of the tentacled but benevolent aliens that greeted Jodie Foster on the familiar beach of her mind in the movie, Contact.

Did anyone else see that or was I just having an acid flashback?

Anyway, she’s on an examining table on some nebulous sound stage and has some strange encounter with Alma, (I think that’s her name)  which was Tate’s wife that was supposedly killed by Tate/Kit, but as we know, was actually abducted by aliens.   So does this mean Alma is alive and living happily among the aliens or….did they simply need to move into her body to appear human to dupe the humans??????   You know aliens are.

Anyway, the next thing we know, she’s sitting in the  Commons Room and bleeding vaginally.    Tate/Kit sees her and thinks she was sterilized.  Just then the guards come in with the police and arrest him for all the Bloody Face murders.   They say they have his taped confession.

Which was something Threadson made him do in an old reel to reel recorder under the guise if he heard what happened in his own words there would be a better psychological connected to what really happened–or some psycho-babble shit.  Threadson sent the tape to authorities giving them their Bloody Face and allowing Threadson to continue to thrill-kill willy nilly.

No, I don’t think Grace was sterilized.  I think she was either crudely impregnated by the aliens or had an impromptu hysterectomy, not sure which.  I say this because of the conversation he and Grace had in their adjoining cells.   There was a lot of talk about wanting children…especially how much he and his wife Alma wanted kids.  I feel there’s a connection there somewhere.

I also loved Chloe the hobbled nympho’s appearance at the bottom of the stairs near the school.   Sister Satan told Dr. Arden that she took her out to the woods.   Nah, she tossed her down the stairs just like Regan did with Father Karras at the end of The Exorcist.    The stairs even looked like the ones in the movie and lest we forget, the demonic connection is shared in the story line.  As we’ve learned over the past two seasons, Falchuk and Murray are not above pilfering (lovingly so) from their favorite horror movies.

Then there’s Anne Frank, supposedly Charlotte Brown, a housewife with one helluva bad case of postpartum psychosis.   After having her baby, she became obsessed with Anne Frank and assumed her identity.  Whether she’s Anne or not, she knew enough to be able to  completely out Arden as Herr Doctor Gruber or Gruper, an insidiously cruel Nazi SS  physician who toured the Concentration Camps performing ungodly experiments on inmates.

Eventually, Charlotte’s husband has to bring her back to Briarcliff–he can’t handle her and Arden performs a lobotomy on her.   She goes home and transforms into this Stepford Wife who’s in the process of throwing away all her Nazi homework.   But she didn’t get to all of the copies of photos and newspaper stories on the wall.    Just as episode five comes to an end, the camera keys in on one remaining photo hanging there.   It’s one of Hitler standing at a podium in the midst of some anti-Semitic/Final Solution speech and behind him is a scowling decorated SS officer and of course, it’s none other than,  Dr. Arden Gruper Nazi SS Angel of Death Sadist Tool.

Lastly,  did Sister Jude actually go out on the town, and with her red lipstick, seduce up a man at a bar and sleep with him?    Or was that just a fantasy of her previous life or of a life she wants to live outside of her monastic confines????    Arden did say he was going to press charges against her because Anne Frank lifted a gun off a visiting detective and shot Herr Doctor in the leg.  Just a flesh wound.

Sister Jude said the charges meant that it was over for her.  She was done.  Tooth pick inserted in the center and removed crumbless.

Here’s what I think:  Threadson will keep Lana hostage in his hellish lair o’death forcing him to write his biography….a hat tip to the movie Misery, perhaps.   Sister Satan will become increasingly more demonic and will form an unholy alliance with Arden to rule Briarcliff and with the help of the aliens, develop maniacal, imperialistic designs to eventually, THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll bet Grace is pregnant.  Tate/Kit somehow gets a ‘get out of fail’ card and we’ll learn more about the human eating, forest dwelling creatures,  a sorority in which  the hobbled nympho will surely be blackballed.   Perhaps, the tubby teacher who saw her attempting to slither up the stairs near campus, will call the cops who’ll be able take her to the hospital where she might still be verbal enough to prove that she’s a prime example of Dr. Arden’s handiwork.

And then…maybe the Simon Wiesenthal-esque nazi hunter that Sister Jude contacted will finally get his man.

And in turn, so will Sister Jude.

Probably won’t be able to offer up an overiew of episode six next Wednesday.  I’m cooking for 11 people for Thanksgiving in my lovely, semi-well appointed new home.    I’ll be up to my armpits in dressing, cranberries and Kendrick holiday  mayhem.  See you back here for Episode Seven in two weeks.

Also, my epic piece on JFK assassination facts will be published Tuesday.  this year marks the 49th anniversary of his death in Dallas.  I’ve done a lot of research on regarding lots of little known facts about the case.   Interesting read, if I say so myself.

Until then have a great holiday, kids.

Oh and have a turkey leg for the hobbled Nympho.

American Horror Story/Asylum: Episode Four

A bar fly is admitted to Briarcliff for observation.

Mandatory, I suppose, and the reason why is that she took umbrage to a few anti-Semitic remarks by other bar patrons.   This enraged the petite Semite who apparently went Sharia all over the bar.     The long arms of the law embraced her and she ends up in Briarcliff, where ‘treatment’ is to begin the next morning.   This little morsel will serve as a delightful experimental blank canvas for the likes of a sadist like asylum hatchet man–and I mean that literally–Dr. Ardin.

Speaking of, he injects Chloe the nympho whose legs he hacked off right around the knee during last week’s episode with something that he says could would/could make her live forever.   I am assuming that she’ll soon be one of the creatures living on sloppy human seconds out in the woods.

Meanwhile, Lana The Reporter and psychiatrist, Dr. Threadson are becoming friends.  He admits to her that he doesn’t think she’s ill–ill being a big ol’ Lesbian and furthermore, he thinks he can cure what ails her.

Uh-huh.

Meanwhile, the new girl is in the Common Room writing someone with the monotonous Singing Nun warbling on the Victrola in the background.    Lana warns her that she’ll get a caning if anyone see’s her writing.   She puts her pen away just as Dr. Ardin strolls into the Common Room.  A look of recognition rushes over her face and she approaches him.

“You!” she screams.  “You were there!!!   At Auschwitz.  Don’t you remember me doctor?  I am Anne.   Anne Frank!”

And then there’s a tussle with the guards and we go to commercial.

Okay, let’s check the math of this new plot dealio.     Anne Frank was 15 when she died in Bergen-Belsen.  Now, had Annie survived as she explained to Sister Jude, she’d be around 34 in 1964.   Plausible for plot purposes?   I guess so.  The woman claiming to be Anne Frank looked 34-ish.   She explained that she had actually survived the Death Camp but was very sick with typhus during its liberation and in the ensuing mayhem, slpped by unnoticed.   She was able to recuperate and eventually married an American soldier who brought her to the States.   She said she learned of her celebrity status when she realized her diary had been published, but insisted on living an anonymous life in the US so the legacy of an amazing 15-year-old whose diary would become required reading for every school age kid on the planet…except maybe Afghanistan…would endure.

She also told Jude that she recognized Arden as  Hans Gruber a high-ranking Nazi SS physician who was stationed at Auschwitz, where Anne and several members of her family were initially taken after their arrest .  She said he practiced all kinds of horrific experiments, especially on women.   He’d pick an inmate, take her into his lab from Hell.  She’d return days..sometimes .weeks later as some kind of  spaced-out zombie.

Her character has the slightest German accent.   Nice touch.

Meanwhile, two detectives pay Briarcliff a visit.  They want to speak to Dr. Arden about roughing up that prostitute in Episode Two.  Remember the one he made wear a nun habit and show him her ‘mossy banks”.   She apparently pressed charges and told them about those kinky photos she found in a dresser drawer WHICH included Nazi stuff.

MOST RIDICULOUS SCENE OF THE EVENING

In Dr. Threadson’s treatment of Lana includes aversion therapy.  She’s forced to look at slides of women in various cheesecake poses.   She’s also been given morphine–I think–which makes her throw up periodically.  The theory is that she’ll soon associate a pic of a hot chick with abject nausea, hence aversion therapy.  When that doesn’t seem to work, he brings in an Ashton Kutcher lookin’ fella who’s nude and tells Lana to study his parts.   She does and nothing happens.   Threadson tells her to reach out and touch him, she does, then he tells her to touch herself.

She does, but only ends up puking.    A reaction I could have predicted.

As this goes down (or doesn’t go down) Sister Jude has gone to Briarcliff head collar in charge–we’ll call him Maxie Priest— to tell him that Dr. Arden has got to go.  He’s a perv and a war criminal.  When the Bishop asks her how she knows the latter bit o’info, she tells him that Anne Frank, the new inmate told her.  He looks at her with a feigned look of incredulousness–mainly because he knows that cat is a perv and a war criminal.  In fact, when Jude leaves his office, he calls Arden to tell him the jig up and to ‘take care of any housekeeping”.  Aw man, what a downer!!   He gets this news JUST as grabs a fresh new syringe with the hobbled nympho’s name on it.

Jude is also battling with the fact that Sister Satan has busted her about her drinking.  She told Maxie Priest that Jude was a drunken pile of crap when addressing the inmates after the movie during the storm.   She redeems herself and her guilt by threatening to beat AND neuter  Grace (the French chick) and Tate (whose accent gets more Bostonian as each episode progresses)  for getting caught having sex in the kitchen while making bread.

We also learn later that Arden still intends to have a little fun by forcing Anne Frank into his lab.  He’s angry that she’s been telling everyone he’s Nazi sadist, Dr. Hans Gruber.

She says  nien, nien!   He vas most certainly at Auschwitz.

Nien, nien insists Herr Doctor.   He’s from Scottsdale.

HA!   Great line.

He then locks the door so the fun can begin, but she pulls out a gun, one she pick-holstered from one of the detectives who came to Briarcliff to investigate Miss Mossy Bank’s accusations.  She shoots Arden in the thigh and demands he gives her the keys.   He does and when she opens the door, she finds the legless nympho in a various state of physical transformation.  Her face was all contorted.

Forgive me for saying this, but I looked at that screen and I know that was a banged-up Hank Williams, Jr–minus the beard, shades and attitude–lying on the filthy laboratory floor begging to be shot in order to be taken out of her his/misery.

IN CLOSING

Tonight’s episode was strange.   It was more disjointed than usual and almost completely devoid of Sister Satan who’s quickly becoming my favorite character.   Previews indicate she’ll be back next week BUT the big question is–will Lana be back?????

Threadson’s brief tour of duty at Briarcliff is almost up.  He told Lana that he fully intends to take her with him when he leaves.  He doesn’t know how he’ll do it, but he says she’s going home, which in plot-speak, is a cue for something dire to happen to one or both of them.

I think Threadson has the hots for Lana.   Her lesbianism is a kinky, turn on to him and her so-called treatment and cure are just ruses.     If he can free her from Briarcliff, perhaps he thinks she’ll be grateful and offer up a little sampling of her mossy banks.

Then again, he ALSO said that he saw a lot of himself in her.  Perhaps THAT means he’s a big old closet queen and by getting intoher  head (maybe literally speaking) he can wrap his head around his own homosexuality.

But before we put this bad boy to bed, let’s take a gander at the current character salad that’s being tossed before our very eyes:  we now have walking dead, flesh-eating forest creatures, carotid artery dwelling spiders, space aliens, serial killers that wear fleshy masks,  chronic masturbators (that scene with chronic handyman was HIGH-larious yet somewhat disturbing), Lizzie Borden ax wielding killers, more entrails on display than at a butcher’s shop, the reincarnation of Anne Frank, a Dr. Mengele wanna-be, lesbians, threats of sterilization, one hobbled nymphomaniac, a nunlet possessed by Satan him or herself and one fantasy of Lana winning a HUGE award for in-depth reporting of all the atrocities at Briarcliff.   Then the scene in which she explains how she escaped, segues to her entering Threadson’s office asking when they can begin therapy.   So then does that mean  her winning the award a fantasy?    Was it a flash forward?   A flash backward per chance?????

I think the writers are putting plot lines in a salad spinner and whatever manages to break the grip of centrifugal force and float our of the opening, gets inserted into the script that coming week.  Seriously.What’s left??   I guess  I’m waiting for the episode featuring a transgendered witch named Rolley, a Visigoth who’s into tartan plaids and a talking ocelot with a penchant for baking pretzels.

AHS is….was and always will be as illogical as a Pollock painting.   I don’t even think Dr. Arden could dissect its plotline appropriately.

Yet, I still watch.

See ya next week.

Pepper Is A Pinhead; Schlitze Was The Inspiration

A year ago—maybe longer—I wrote a post about a genetic condition commonly known as “Pinhead Syndrome”.    And since the premier of American Horror Story: Asylum its been receiving renewed interest.

Actress, Naomi Grossman endures grueling hours of special make up,  putting on oversized clothes and prosthetic application to transform into Pepper, a patient incarcerated in the edifice which serves as this season’s main character:  an asylum called Briarcliff.   Pepper is  microcephalic.

In the simplest of terms,  the character  has a considerably smaller head than normal, due to a smaller than normal brain case.   She  seems  gentle and playful but as we learned in the first episode this season, she has a very violent past.  She drowned her nephew and cut off his ears.  But we later learn, that her brother in-law committed the murder and mutilation and blamed it on her because of her disability. 

Having microcephaly doesn’t automatically make one homicidal, and from what I understand, won’t necessarily make the patient mentally disabled.     According to the Cleveland Clinic, microcephaly is often associated with some degree of mental retardation. However, in 15 percent of the cases, a child born with this anomaly, will have normal intelligence.   Microcephaly is also rare,  occurring in one out of every 6200 to 8500 births.   The causes can be a number of things, including genetic mutation, pre-natal diabetes or malnutrition to mercury poisoning and drinking or the use of drugs during a pregnancy.

Pepper was no doubt based on one of the world’s most famous ‘pinheads”, Schlitze , who co-starred in Tod Browning’s original American horror story, the 1932 film “Freaks”.   More about this person a littler later on in this post.

BUT FIRST, A BIT ABOUT THE FILM

The cast was almost completely composed of actual carnival performers.   Browning took the exceptional step of casting real people with deformities and what have you,  as the eponymous sideshow “freaks,” rather than using costumes and makeup.    This gave the movie an incredible, almost tactile realness.   It’s an amazing movie, really.

Here’s a sampling:

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Interesting isn’t it that with their monotonous chant, the “freaks”  decided to accept the “normal” looking woman?   You might ask, is this some parallel universe?  No, it’s simply their everyday world where “normal” is different and being different is quite the norm.

And it was a world Browning knew very well.  He’d been a member of a traveling circus  in his early years, and much of the film was drawn from his personal experiences. In the film, the physically deformed “freaks” are inherently trusting and honorable people, while the real monsters are the “normal” members of the circus C0-stars in this celluloid epic  include Olga Roderick as the bearded lady.   Frances O’Connor and Martha Morris are the Armless Wonders.   Daisy and Violet Hilton (no relation to Paris or Nikki—I don’t think) star as the conjoined twins they were in life.

MEET SCHLITZE

As you can see,  the resemblance  of  AHS’s Pepper  to Schlitze is amazing.  The show’s makeup artist,  Christien Tinsley is a genius.

Schlitze’s true identity is a bit vague, but most believe that this female looking, dress wearing entity was born very much a  male, named  Simon Metz on September 10, 1901 in the Bronx. His birth parents remain mysterious figures to this day and young Simon was likely ‘sold’ to the owner of some circus sideshow because of a rather obvious birth defect.

Schlitze was born microcephalic, and had the cognitive abilities of a four-year old.

Nowadays, a movie like this wouldn’t stand a chance of even getting green lit, much less having its script read by any reputable studio brass.   And if it ever got to distribution in theaters…even the art house ones, it would probably get shut down by angry, torch-bearing protesters and run out-of-town on a rail, but back in the late 1800’s through the early 1950’s,  the display and exhibiting of ‘pinheads’ and other human anomalies was nothing new and in fact, considered entertainment.   In the 1800’s pinheads were often exhibited as a species apart from man, as the last members of an ancient race – usually Aztecs – and on occasion they were billed as being from another planet.

During his lifetime, Schlitze was exhibited publicly as all of these things.    For much of his career, he rarely spoke and was almost always billed as female. This was mostly due to his dress-like attire which was actually an attire choice based purely on the fact that he was completely incontinent.  A dress allowed him more rapid access to do what …well, what needs to transpire when one is incontinent.

While popular with crowds, Schlitze’s biggest fans were his colleagues and caretakers. To sum up the reason for this fondness is difficult, but the wonderment Schlitze held for the daily mundane, his childlike exuberance, his eternal innocence greatly influenced those around him. Schlitze was often called ‘a ray of sunshine’, and his smile and unconditional love shined on all those around him.

During his long career Schlitze entertained millions of carnival and film goers with his antics. He was perhaps best known for his role in Freaks, – though he also appeared in Island Of Lost Souls opposite Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi. As a sideshow entertainer, iwas employed by every major name in the business. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Clyde Beatty Circus, Tom Mix Circus, West Coast Shows, Vanteen & Lee Circus Sideshow, and the Dobritsch International Circus all had Schlitze in their shows at one point or another.

Although Schlitze had no known biological family, during the 1936 season of the Tom Mix Circus sideshow George Surtees, a chimpanzee trainer, became  his legal guardian. Surtees was, by all accounts, a caring and loving guardian but when he passed in the early 1960’s his daughter had Schlitze committed to a Los Angeles County Hospital.

Schlitze remained committed for some time, until he was recognized by sword swallower, Bill Unks, who just happened to be working at the hospital during the off-season when he noticed a very sad and depressed Schlitze.  Apparently, Schlitze missed the carnival, his friends and the adoration of the crowds. Hospital authorities eventually determined that the best care for Schlitze would be to make him a ward of Unks’ employer, showman Sam Kortes, and return to the sideshow, which he did for a time.

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I remember seeing Freaks on an edition of Night Flight back in the early  80’s.   Remember Night Flight?   It was the forerunner to MTV in many ways and in many ways, it was so much better.
But that’s how I first became introduced to Schlitze and Freaks .  It wasn’t because I got some rise out of Hollywood’s blatant exploitation of these poor people, but rather, because it was hard for me to wrap my head around these living, breathing anomalies and their own very special contribution to humanity.   Their dynamic individuality and the humanity  athey had with each other was absolutely amazing to watch.   They were so normal and dignified, even in the midst of being so abnormal and undignified.    I mean think about it:  a man with a tiny head, a female with a chin bearing lycanthropic-looking fur and a woman who was nothing more than a limbless trunk with a head attached, tends to make one think otherwise.

Film students know Schlitze and the strange cast of Freaks.   The movie is required viewing in many film schools in this country.  In 1994, Freaks was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being  “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

And Schlitze contributed to that as well.

As he entered the autumn of his life, he lived in a small apartment near MacArthur Park Lake in downtown Los Angeles.    Schlitze loved being out doors and could often be seen feeding the pigeons and ducks with his guardian, even performing a bit  for people as they passed by.

He continued to enchant crowds until his death in 1971 at the age of 71.  His death certificate says he died due to bronchial pneumonia brought on by Medullary Depression.    He was buried in an unmarked grave at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Roland Hills, California.    Schlitze’s grave remained unmarked until August 2008, when members of the website, www.findadeath.com raised almost $400 to purchase him a proper headstone…and as promised in the video, a big hat with an even bigger feather.
May “Schlitze Surtees” rest in peace.
Photo courtesy findadeath.com.

I would suggest seeing Freaks, if you can.  It’s an interesting, albeit a rather embarrassing part of our cinematic history, but vital to understand how and why these people were so misunderstood and how and why our ignorance and fear prompted our mistreatment of them.

The good news is that we’ve made tremendous headway since this movie was made 79 years ago.    We’ve learned tolerance and we now understand the physical ramifications of genetic mutations.   There are government programs and research facilities that have been created to combat these rare birth anomalies.   For those afflicted with them, there are now special homes and assisted living centers where these people can learn and thrive

Asylums such Briarcliff  though without the early 1960’s torturous poetic license which is depicted in AHS (and reportedly, not all that far fetched)  enter the picture only when a criminal element does as well.   And for those with microcephaly, that IS the exception; not the rule.

This very real world is progress indeed and a far cry from the movie, Freaks,  circus sideshows in general and Schlitze’s 1940’s bio which basically exploited his “wide array of “talents” that included singing, dancing……and counting to ten.