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'American Horror Story': Kathy Bates and Sarah Paulson talk 'Coven' FX magic

American Horror Story: Coven” stars Kathy Bates and Sarah Paulson joined fellow cast members and executive producers Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Dante DiLoreto for the AHS live PaleyFest panel discussion at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 28, which also streamed online via LiveStream.

Delphine LaLaurie's Decapitated Head Joins 'American Horror Story: Coven' PaleyFest Panel 2014-slide0
Jason Merritt Getty Images
Sarah Paulson plays Cordelia on 'American Horror Story: Coven' on FX.
Michele K. Short/FX

Angela Bassett brought laughter and applause from the PaleyFest audience when she entered carrying Delphine LaLaurie's (Kathy Bates) "head" on a platter. “Entertainment Weekly” senior writer Tim Stack moderated the lively conversation and couldn’t resist eventually discussing the decapitation, noting it as one of "Coven's" pinnacle plot twists.

Stack asked Bates how soon she knew this game-changing moment was coming. She replied, “I went to Tinsley Studios out here one Friday and got my hand cast. I was almost out the door and I had this premonition, I don’t know why, and they said we need you to come back in and get your head cast. So, I kind of figured it out from there.”

Who can ever forget the climatic Dec. 4 “Coven” episode “The Sacred Taking” in which Marie Laveaux (Angela Bassett) delivers Delphine’s decapitated head in a box to Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange)?

LaLaurie’s propensity to slice and dice her victims really came back to haunt her in a grisly full-circle kind of way. But the “punishment” also provided some great on set laughs for Bates and co-stars Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson.

Bates said, “I was on the dining room table and I was in a box and Jessica and Sarah opened the box into hysterics and we thought, we’re never gonna get through this. It was funny and I would always say to Jess, ‘It’s come to this.’”

A huge part of “American Horror Story’s” allure as a groundbreaking series in the horror genre are the eerie, disturbing and utterly terrifying images created by the incredible makeup and FX team helmed by Tinsley Studio. Tinsley Studio founder/Oscar winning makeup artist Christien Tinsley serves as AHS Special Makeup Effects Designer and Creator and his Emmy-winning and Emmy-nominated teams are led by AHS Department Head Makeup Eryn Krueger Mekash, Key Makeup Artist Kim Ayers and Key Prosthetic Makeup Artist Mike Mekash.

“American Horror Story: Murder House” delivered many unforgettable monsters like Infantata, Beau, and a gang of zombies seeking answers from Tate." And, let's not forget the multiple garden-variety murders and how Tate lit his mother's boyfriend Larry's (Denis O'Hare) face on fire.

“Asylum” brought a fresh and new bevy of astounding special FX including aliens, mutants creatures called “Raspers,” a deformed woman named Pepper and the incomparably terrifying Bloody Face mask which was made out of serial killer Oliver Thredson’s (Zachary Quinto) victims’ skin. Is anyone else still feeling permanently scarred by the sight of Thredson in that mask?

“Coven's" spellbinding FX featured Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) slaying an army of zombies, multiple stabbings and butcherings from Delphine LaLaurie, a shooting spree, lots of axe murders and a Minotaur, to name a few.

Plus, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) being blinded after getting acid thrown in her face ranks really high on the gruesome list. But, the scene in episode 10 in which she gouges her own eyes out with garden shears pretty much is off the horror Richter scale.

Paulson discussed acting blind and also gave props to the AHS makeup and prosthetic teams. She said, “There were stages of things and the incredible makeup department, Mike Mekash, Eryn, they came up with this – originally I had something that covered my entire eye and I couldn’t see anything. It was very disorienting and weird and also kind of great because all of my other senses became really powerful.”

She also explained how Cordelia’s self-inflicted eye wounds were achieved saying, “They fashioned something on the end of an actual garden shear. The base of it was real and the part where the cutting area was, was made out of plastic. So I took as far as I could with as much force but then I stopped as close as I could get it and then we just angled it I think in a way that tried to make it look like it was penetrating. Then I did my terrifying, guttural scream.”

“American Horror Story” season four is subtitled “Freak Show,” which should presumably up the FX magic stakes by a horrifying mile.

Sarah Paulson is returning for season four along with Jessica Lange and all of the “Coven” PaleyFest panelists which were: Evan Peters, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe, Jamie Brewer, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Frances Conroy and Denis O’Hare.

Plus, Golden Globe and Emmy winning actor Michael Chiklis will be joining the “Freak Show” cast as well as some more season one returns that series co-creator Ryan Murphy confirmed but did not name.

American Horror Story” returns this fall on FX. Follow @TinsleyStudio on Twitter.

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