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October 16, 2013

TV Review: American Horror Story: Asylum (Blu-ray, 2012)

Genre based Television shows really seemed to make a push for audiences wanting horror, sci-fi and fantasy in the comfort of their own homes during the late 50's with shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery and of course Rod Serling's masterful series The Twilight Zone. Presently some of of the top shows on TV are - at least for this horror fan - are well produced, acted and written genre shows. Along with The Walking Dead, one of the best more recent shows is FX's superb American Horror Story.

Much like The Walking Dead,  American Horror Story stretches newtork censors to the the limit with it's very adult horror that would put even pay networks on their heels. Could we have it any other way?? No way! Now with the third season on the horizon, the second season will be making it's debut on Blu-ray, and while it changes things up a bit by getting away from the story of the Harmon family, something creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk wanted to do from the beginning American Horror Story: Asylum loses none its power to disturb and frighten.

The season opener puts you directly into the asylum where the majority of the horrors throughout the series unfold. Its present day as a fornicating couple decide to make love in the house of horrors. You can guess what happens to these folks. American Horror Story : Asylum doesn't really take place at the present  as the bulk of the time-frame of each of the episodes is during the mid-1960's when the asylum was heavily occupied by the craziest of the crazy. At the helm is the sinister, Sister Jude (Lange), Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fienes) and Babe star, James Cromwell as Dr. Arden. The new additions are very solid (especially Cromwell) but one thing evident is how Jude's character arc works as the shows progress and how she grows.

The superb nightmarish visuals make Asylum's impact comparable to its predecessor as the most disturbing show on network TV - even more so than Here Comes, Honey Boo Boo!. The flowing blood, the controversial subject matter (racism), and sexuality are all here. As to be expected, Jessica Lange delivers again with a consistently evil portrayal of a nun that makes even my experiences in Catholic School seem like nothing. She's awesome and hopefully will stay with the series until its time to call it a day on the show. The return of Zachary Quinto (Spock in the Star Trek remake) as a doctor at Briarcliff is another person to look out for in the series.
 After you've made it through the complete season of American Horror Story: Asylum, there are some solid supplements that have been added to the already fantastic package. There are featurettes - The Orderly, What Is American Horror Story: Asylum?, Welcome To Briarcliff Manor, The Creatures and some Deleted Scenes cut from several of the episodes. The picture and audio quality of the episodes are great and on par with what you may have scene in their initial high definition broadcasts. All of this is across three discs in an easily storable package.

After the success of the first season of American Horror Story, Falchuk and Murphy made a bold choice movie out of the haunted house and into the asylum. Also with so many great new actors (Sevigny, Cromwell, Quinto) in the mix and the return of the staple of the series, Jessica Lange, season II delivers fresh thrills with its familiar back-forth flashbacks and cluster-fuck of haunting imagery that made each story stand on their own. As a big fan of the series I'm really looking forward to Coven and beyond. Highly Recommended.

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