American Horror Story falls flat in new season

25 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Going Gaga over set, costumes for ‘AHS Hotel’.

The fifth season of Ryan Murphy’s hit anthology series “American Horror Story” (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX) has been one of the bloodiest and most graphic yet according to both television critics and watchgroups.Taylor Kinney has been very vocal about being proud of Lady Gaga in her accomplishments, as the pop singer has switched to acting in American Horror Story, but recently Kinney’s support wavered somewhat as he commented on his fiancee’s love scenes.The council is also calling out to cable channel purchasers and reminding them that they also play a role in promoting the show, which contains the most graphic TV content that the group has encountered, through the subscription fees.

But beneath the gore, the show’s production and costume design remain among the most sophisticated on television, effortlessly mixing light and shadow and the beautiful and grotesque with a mastery akin to Hieronymus Bosch or Diane Arbus. This season, subtitled “Hotel,” leaves the sunny landscapes and carnival colors of the previous year’s “Freakshow” behind and instead encloses us in the decadently claustrophobic Hotel Cortez, the kind of gorgeously decaying ruin typical of classic Los Angeles noir. “There is no real life Hotel Cortez,” Emmy nominated production designer Mark Worthington says via phone from the show’s southern California offices, “The interior is entirely created on soundstages and we built the outdoor neon sign from scratch. The ornate (but faded) Art Deco set is the main stage upon which she and other hotel guests act, a device recalling the Tiffany stained glassed “Murder House” purgatory of season one and the confining Gothic Revival “Asylum” of season two. Kinney says the experience was awkward for both himself and for Lady Gaga’s father, as both men responded to Gaga with the same uneasy reaction: “Wow! But behind the plush velvet upholstery and chrome fixtures, the Cortez has a secret: The hotel’s original owner and architect James March (Evan Peters) built it in the 1920s as a playpen for his deadly impulses with secret “murder closets,” gas asphyxiation chambers and corpse dumping chutes hidden around every corner.

While it’s too early to figure out “AHS: Hotel’s” niche, there’s plenty of intriguing stories already in the works for these characters that are worth sticking around for. “And everyone is paying for it as part of their programme bundle”. This time around she’s Iris, the hotel receptionist, who gives guests ominous warnings as they check in to the hotel. “The white-haired children, I have to say I’m really not sure who they are, I just have to say they unnerve me”, says Denis O’Hare.

Like San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House, there are doors that lead to nowhere and labyrinthine hallways that make escape all but impossible. “We knew about the Winchester Mystery House when we started discussing the concept,” Worthington says of his initial meetings with Ryan Murphy, “But for us, the hotel depicted in ‘Devil in the White City’ was a much bigger influence,” he says, referring to the real life story of serial killer H.H. More debauchery can surely be expected, if Ryan Murphy holds true to form with the upcoming episode, “Devil’s Night,” and gives fans the traditional dark Halloween special episode. Hotel features a star-studded cast that includes Lady Gaga, Matt Bomer, Wes Bentley, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Cheyenne Jackson, Max Greenfield and Chloe Sevigny. It even gets a tad 2001: A Space Odyssey crossed with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the Countess takes us to the games room with all the creepy little children playing retro video games and eating candies from dispensers on the wall.

Less of a surprise, last month PTC also took issue with another one of Murphy’s shows, “Scream Queens“, saying it’s “content is so constant, so graphic, and so horrific that (it) is almost impossible to know where to begin describing it”, according to Refinery 29. Leading man Matt Bomer said, “I definitely had to put down the first script a couple times and take a few deep breaths and then come back to it” and his co-star Cheyenne Jackson agreed that Hotel is “scarier” than any of the season so far. Worthington also says that Murphy frequently communicates his production ideas via film references: “He’s a total cinephile, so rather than describe what it is he wants he’ll say ‘I want this to feel like the bar scene in ‘The Shining’ or ‘The Eyes of Laura Mars’ or ‘Village of the Damned.’ ’ It’s not just horror, it might be ‘Chinatown.’ Rather than starting from a more mundane place you start from a knowledge of how that feels and it’s much more efficient.” For “Hotel” costume designer Lou Eyrich, who has won two Emmy Awards for work on the series, the initial challenge and excitement of this season had to do with the show’s newest star. “Gaga certainly brought with her to the show her own fashion iconography but she was committed to creating something new for the Countess,” Eyrich says, “When she arrived three days before shooting started we talked about the character arc, the tone and we started trying on clothes that were the character.

We didn’t want pieces that were too Gaga.” The movie star glamour of the 1930s and 1940s was the initial starting point for the Countess’s wardrobe (with MGM golden age costume designer Adrian as a particular influence) with 1970s and 1990s touches to convey the character’s decade spanning afterlife. “Ryan wanted old Hollywood, but with a modern touch,” Eyrich says. She sourced pieces from Brandon Maxwell, Michael Costello, Alexander McQueen and the Yohji Yamamoto archives to keep a contemporary feel. “There’s lots of bold reds, emeralds, fuchsias, blacks and whites in her color stories and of course a touch of vampire gold.” Eyrich estimates Gaga averages “about 10 costume changes per episode, compared to Jessica Lange’s seven in the last season.” Among the custom pieces made for Gaga is a metal claw glove designed by Los Angeles jeweler Michael Schmidt which is used as the Countess’s instrument for drawing blood from her victims. “But don’t forget each week we also have 35 other cast members to dress,” Eyrich reminds, among them returning star Sarah Paulson as Hypodermic Sally, a leopard coat clad junkie who channels both punk rock consort Nancy Spungen and grunge rocker Courtney Love with her bleached blond hair, smeared eyeliner and falling apart floral dresses. “She’s sad, but oddly chic,” Eyrich says of Sally, “She will wear the leopard coat all the time: It’s her security blanket as well as the chokers, which we’re making from vintage velvet ribbons and cameos. It’s very old school hot glue gun DIY.” Angela Basset’s Ramona Royale is another character who spans the decades from 1970s Blaxploitation to early 1990s hiphop styles, “You’ll learn a lot about her character through the clothes,” Eyrich says, “She starts in the 1970s but ends up very current.” With costumes and sets so integral to the storytelling, Worthington says that he and Eyrich “Talk every day.

It’s amazing to collaborate with her each season,” but that in the end, they know their work must ultimately be in the service of the story. “It seems to me self evident that if you design a horror film and everything is spooky and dark and dripping with blood it’s kind of ridiculous and it takes away the shock of the action itself,” Worthington says. “If a character is expressing a moment of horror or violence the set doesn’t have to reflect that.

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