Category Archives: American Horror Story: Hotel

American Horror Story: Hotel Gore-tez


Though lots of critics, reviewers, and bloggers lambasted the premiere episode of FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel — the fifth installment of the anthology series written by Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy — I thought the premiere episode of Hotel was a violent, intense, somewhat bizarre but fascinating mélange of a new “horror story” blended with allusions to famous horror films and to the past seasons of its own franchise. Unfortunately, we’re now half-way through the season, and nothing new has happened. Every single episode features the same plot events, with increasing gore.

Gratuitous and egregious gore.

Never have I seen a show with such a promising premiere fall off the cliff so quickly and so precipitously.

The Hotel’s Guests

It’s hard to care about any of the characters, even though the writers seem to be trying to give them some kind of story before they end up at the Hotel Cortez, where they “can check out but never leave.”

fc8f62c4a437d651_DHI_1295d_hires2.xxxlarge_2xI don’t care that the Countess Elizabeth (Lady Gaga), who looks gorgeous in just about every scene, even when she’s covered with blood, wants to marry the hotel’s new owner because Bernie Madoff stole all her money and she’s no longer rich.

images-17Not only has the new hotel owner, who seemed to be some kind of fashion designer, disappeared from the show, as has his son, I laughed aloud that they’d put Gaga — I mean, the Countess — who’s a vampire, in the clutches of Bernie Madoff and that, furthermore, she hadn’t slit his throat with her sparkly glove after he stole all her money, as she’s done basically each week with someone new.

1465604376429094435I find myself not caring about all the children the Countess has kidnapped to make her weird vampire family.

images-5It didn’t even move me that one of those kidnapped children is Dr. Alex’s (Chloë Sevingny) and Detective John’s (Wes Bentley) missing son, Holden.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY -- "Room Service" Episode 505 (Airs Wednesday, November 4, 10:00 pm/ep) Pictured: Chloe Sevigny as Alex Lowe. CR: Doug Hyun/FX

After the Countess changed Alex, she discovered that she gets to be with Holden forever. In the glass coffin with him in the empty swimming pool. It was a creepy, pedophilia-like scene, with that look on Alex’s face as she gazed on the little boy she’s going to be “sleeping with.”

Yucky-ness to the max.

Who are all the other kids?

Who knows?

ustv-american-horror-story-hotel-ew-first-look-06I don’t believe anybody cared that the snobby fashion editor (Naomi Campbell) got killed, not even Naomi Campbell herself.

It probably didn’t matter to anyone except Donovan (Matt Bomer) that the Countess replaced him

Unknown copywith the self-absorbed fashion model (Finn Witrock).

american-horror-story-hotel-exclusive-photos-and-which-character-will-be-returning-586496Nobody cared that the supposedly heart-broken Donovan, after treating his mother Iris (Kathy Bates) like garbage for weeks, suddenly felt remorse after Iris let Sally (Sarah Paulson) give her an OD so that she could die.

images-28Then Donovan felt so sorry — for himself — that he turned his mother into a vampire so she’ll be  in the Hotel with him forever.

Immediately afterward, he seemed to completely forget Iris while he looked up another discarded lover of the Countess, Ramona (Angela Bassett).

For revenge.


The Hotel’s Designer/Builder

images-24The Hotel was originally designed and built by some rich, psycho serial killer (Evan Peters) who murdered his victims and shoved them all down hidden chutes in the hotel. Chutes that lead… where? To the basement? There was a pile of bodies down there, but the extra twenty minutes of the episode where his “history” was revealed, in black and white rather than in color, was beyond predictable. I had a hard time staying awake.

images-20We did eventually find out why Mare Winningham’s housekeeping-character is obsessed with cleaning bloody sheets: her own son was kidnapped on Halloween, after complaining about his boring ghost costume — two eye-holes cut into a sheet — by a pedophile, and his body was never found. Only the bloody sheet with the eye-holes was discovered.

Did she work with the millionaire serial killer at the hotel before her son was kidnapped and murdered or only afterward?

That wasn’t made clear.

What was made apparent was that she “loved” the owner and helped him cover up his crimes, so when the police came to arrest him, she willingly died with him.

Is trite too harsh a term to describe that plot-line and the extra-long episode in which is was revealed?

Too kind a term, perhaps.

The Halloween “Special”

Lily-Rabe-as-Aileen-Wuornos-1446086575.pngBesides the wonderful performance of recurring American Horror Story actor Lily Rabe as Aileen Wuornos, the two-part Halloween special was unbelievably dull.

Part One — picture this: every year the dead serial killer Hotel-builder has a “party” for famous serial killers: John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Aileen Wuornos (Lily Rabe), etc., and this year, the detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley), who’s staying at the Hotel Cortez, is their guest. They all drink absinthe and talk.

Serial killers sit around and talk.

And talk.

And talk.

And talk.

Because, you know, that’s how you can spot a serial killer: he never stops talking.

Not even when someone at the Halloween party is alive and drugged and not capable of defending himself.

Not even when that alive, drugged someone is a detective, a police-guy, a law-enforcement officer.

All the serial killers just talk.

Until finally Sally arrives with a “kidnapped” drug-addict that she offers them as a killing-gift.

images-19Excuse for more gore and blood after over an hour of yakkety-yak-yak-yak.

Part Two of the Halloween Special…

It was this past week.


Dennis O’Hare
as “Liz Taylor”

images-23The only character I actually do like is Dennis O’Hare’s transvestite Liz Taylor, who is alive and working in the Hotel. O’Hare is brilliantly daring in the role, wearing fab clothes and jewels,

images-26reading classics like James Joyce’s Ulysses and Voltaire’s Candide while waiting for customers at the bar or the front desk (when Iris isn’t available),

images-16dispensing poignant philosophical opinions on life (e.g., when he tells the now-deceased-mother-turned-vampire-Iris that when you’re “invisible” — i.e., to glamorous, gorgeous, wealthy people — you can do anything you want). In Iris’ instance, this might include staking the Countess through her unfeeling heart or trying to kill Sally — again — because Iris blamed Sally for Donovan’s drug abuse.

images-27O’Hare, who’s been a regular figure in the American Horror Story franchise, was also stunning as Russell Edgington, the homosexual vampire in a season of True Blood. O’Hare is an underrated actor, if only because his parts in films are often rather small ones, but this time, Dennis is really getting a chance to stand out and strut his stuff.

images-29His character has some of the best lines (replying to Detective John’s complaints about his life with “And I have an appendage between my legs that prevents me from wearing pencil skirts”); the most interesting back-story so far — he married his wife because she wore the same size clothes as he did, which meant he could wear her dresses and heels; and he was a traveling salesman who got along fine with all the mucho-macho guys till they caught him in the hallway of the hotel wearing a slip, heels, and a fur coat.

O’Hare’s “Liz Taylor” has some of the best interactions with the other characters roaming through the Hotel, whether or not they become permanent guests.

In fact, if O’Hare doesn’t get nominated for an Emmy or Golden Globe for this year’s performance, or win one/both, then I’ll personally award him The Alexandria Papers Award for courage and panache in a dramatic role.

American_Horror_Story_Hotel_TeaserI was so looking forward to American Horror Story: Hotel. With its huge line-up of recurring stars, guest stars, and cameos, I thought it was going to be as good as the first season, which was an innovative stunner with a surprise premise. This year, Hotel basically has the same premise as the first season; each episode is even more gory than the one before, but in exactly the same way; the plot is virtually the same each week, with Gaga (I mean, the Countess) turning someone else into a vampire, while someone else in the show bloodily kills someone that the viewers can’t possibly care about because the character(s) are new and usually unlikeable; and each episode is literally getting longer — and seems unbearably longer than it actually is — causing critic Ryan Roschke of PopSugar to write an “open letter” to creator-writer Ryan Murphy, asking him to trim the show’s extraneous characters and sub-plots down, signing it, “A Very Tired American Horror Story Fan.”

Unfortunately, beyond the fantastic performance of Dennis O’Hare, the only thing I now like about the show this season is the opening title sequence.

Otherwise, Hotel Cortez has become nothing but Hotel Gore-tez.

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Welcome to the Hotel: American Horror Story, Season 5 Premiere


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Welcome to the Hotel… American Horror Story, Season 5 Premiere


Warning: Spoilers
Gory and Galore

images-2Though lots of critics, reviewers, and bloggers lambasted the premiere episode of FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel — the fifth installment of the anthology series written by Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy — calling it everything from “Garbage” (Vanity Fair) to “The Unbearable Excesses of Ryan Murphy” (Hollywood Prospectus), from “The Lady Gaga Show” (io9) to the Best Lady Gaga Video in Years,” (Gawker), the premiere episode of Hotel was a violent, intense, somewhat bizarre but fascinating mélange of a new horror story blended with allusions to famous horror films and to the past seasons of its own franchise.

From its first season, American Horror Story’s themes have been violence, rape, freaks, traps, plots, conspiracies, isolation, loneliness, misunderstanding, fear, regret, revenge, self-destruction, secrets, karmic punishment, and no escape.

american-horror-story-season-5-hotel-emmaIt doesn’t look like Hotel is going to be any different.

From the moment two Swedish tourists (sisters, I think) enter the hotel Cortez, tingles go up your spine. The carpet in the entry hallway —

images-7an homage to the hotel’s carpet in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining —

images-13might lead you to feel uneasy enough, but the fact that the hotel seems deserted might also make you more than a little nervous.


Because the ill-tempered manager Iris (Kathy Bates) refuses them a refund, the girls try to make the best of it. For one night only.


Iris shouts for “Liz Taylor” (Dennis O’Hare, in his most daring role to date), to lead the girls up to their room.images-2

Let’s throw in an allusion to that creepy, long-nailed Dracula hand sneaking up behind Jonathan Harker — from Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula —


when one of the girls goes to the ice machine.


Then let’s have her sister freak out that the “room stinks,” identify the smell as coming from the mattress, which she cuts open,

images-3and have a screaming gimp pop out.

Whoa, Nellie.

We sure didn’t want to change the channel.

ahs-wes-bentleySwitch to a John Lowe (Wes Bentley), who is investigating a series of murders committed by The Ten Commandments Killer, who is called to a crime scene involving a couple.

“They’re married,” says Detective Lowe, “but not to each other.”

The woman, who is on top, has been spiked to the headboard of the bed through her hands. The man’s eyes and tongue have been cut out and left in the ashtray.

The police officer thinks the guy is saying, “Get me out of here.”

Lowe corrects him: “He’s saying, ‘Get me out of her’.”

His Viagra-enhanced genitals have been SuperGlued inside the woman.

Gross-ness to the max.

And also an allusion to Se7en, when the highly literate serial killer murders his victims according to the Seven Deadly Sins, and in appropriate fashion.

The ever reliable Sarah Paulson plays Sally, ahs-sarah-paulsona drug addict who once lured Iris’ son Donovan (Matt Bomer) into a room and an overdose, causing Iris to push her out the window, killing Sally.

After another drug addict (Max Greenfield, in a brief and horrifying role) checks in,

imageshe’s raped/sodomized by a disguised figure with a metallic strap-on. Sally kneels at the bedside, telling him that his screaming will only prolong the rape, and requesting that he tell her he loves her.

In answer to the other critics’ and bloggers’ objections to yet another prolonged, explicit, violent rape scene (male or female) in American Horror Story, rape does seem to be a bit of an obsession with one of these writers, if not both of them. Eric Thrum called the scene “sickening and pointless,” and I have to agree. The rapes scenes throughout the history of American Horror Story’s seasons do seem to be “another instance of TV shows using rape to lazily create shock.” The scenes never seem directly connected with any social, sexual power/submission, or political commentaries, or even integrally related to the plot (except perhaps in season one, where the character was pregnant from the rape, and the child wasn’t her husband’s, as she’d thought).

Maybe the problem with many of the rapes on TV, and especially with those in American Horror Story, is that I’ve gotten so used to them, they often have no effect on me. Perhaps it’s because they often involve disguises and costumes in this show, with the rapists/perpetrators being ghosts… I don’t know.

And coming from a fifteen-year-victim of incest-rape (father, step-father, and mother [with implements]), that’s saying something gruesome about television’s — and American Horror Story’s — portrayal of rape.

In an homage to The Hunger, starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon,

images-9Iris’ son Donovan (Matt Bomer)


is now the lover of  Elizabeth (Lady Gaga), also known as “The Countess,” who currently owns the Hotel, but has just, apparently, sold it.

ahs_502_0342d_hires2-e1444312140958Donovan and Elizabeth, engage in sexual activities with strangers as well as with each other,

images-4as do the characters in The Hunger,

images-7and also in blood-baths,

images-5as do the characters in The Hunger.images-11

Donovan and “Countess” Elizabeth (no doubt named after Countess Elizabeth Bathory [Erzsébet Báthory], one of the most prolific serial killers in history, who killed young virgins and bathed in their blood ostensibly to preserve her youth, and who is often compared to Vlad III the Impaler, on whom the fictional Count Dracula was partially based), are not only murdering, blood-drinking lovers, but they also seem to collect children,

images-5 like those who haunt Danny in The Shining,

images-14and which include the missing/kidnapped son of Detective Lowe and his wife Dr. Alex (Chloë Sevigny), whose marriage is suffering because of the loss of their son.


Hotel was scary, creepy, and spooky. It was filled with allusions not only to its past seasons’ stories, but also to horror films, serial killer films, and historic serial killers. My strong objections to the pointless and graphic rape scene are noted above. Besides that, American Horror Story: Hotel rocked with atmosphere, and not just because of the claustrophobic camera angles and close-ups, and not just because the song “Hotel California” played over the end-credits, leading us to believe that all the “guests” have become permanent residents, crossing the boundaries of time and now forever in each other’s paths, just as in the first season of the series. (Airs Wednesday nights at 10 ET on FX.)


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Filed under Actors, American Horror Story: Hotel, Movies/Television, Rape, Serial Killers, Violence