Grab a rubber bite block and prepare to get shocked. FX airs an "American Horror Story: Asylum" marathon through the wee hours tomorrow and Saturday nights.
Step into Lana Winters' (Sarah Paulson) shoes. She's an ace reporter on her way up, investigating Kit Walker (Evan Peters), the accused serial killer Bloody Face, who skins his victims alive. To this end, she pretends she's doing a piece on Briarcliff, a 1960's Catholic-run institution for the criminally insane, where Kit has just been incarcerated. Shrewd Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), the strict matron who runs Briarcliff, inflicts punishment not only on Kit, but also, after her discovery that Lana is lesbian, on the reporter. And that's only the beginning.
Like his earlier "Nip/Tuck," Ryan Murphy's "American Horror Story" scandalously pushes the boundaries in regards to the amount of violence and sexual content allowable on a basic cable channel. Electroshock therapy, caning, torture, exorcism, a child killer, human experimentation, immolation, an unholy crucifixion, alien abductions, breast-feeding prostitutes, a homicidal Santa, the Angel of Death and even Holocaust diarist Anne Frank herself. Believe it or not - all these elements fit neatly into the most delectably subversive 13 episodes ever to hit the small screen.
Unique in its anthology approach, with each season introducing new plot, theme, setting and characters, AHS also stands out with its incredible production value, so that each episode comes across like a mini-movie. The acting, writing, directing, set decoration, camerawork, makeup, hairstyling and costuming, always top-notch, gained the show 17 Emmy noms, including acting noms for Lange, Paulson, James Cromwell and Zachary Quinto. Click here for a complete list of the show's Emmy nominations. Asylum's cast also includes: Lizzie Brocheré, Frances Conroy, Mark Consuelos, Jenna Dewan, Clea DuVall, Joseph Fiennes, Naomi Grossman, Nikki Hahn, Adam Levine, Dylan McDermott, Ian McShane, Britne Oldford, and Chloë Sevigny.
AHS's gruesomely sordid first season, Murder House, paled in comparison with the second in terms of Asylum's unrelenting bleakness -- the oppressiveness of the institution. Although peopled with witches, a religious fanatic, voodoo priestess Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) and infamous New Orleans serial killer Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), the upcoming third season, Coven, promises to be lighter and more glamorous. Click here for details.
As hard as it is to believe, with such disturbing subject matter and somber atmospheres, Asylum tackled issues regarding marginalization of women and interracial marriage in a pre-feminist and pre-Civil Rights movement era. And the show's gay rights messages gained it a GLAAD award as well. Click here for details. With genius Ryan Murphy at the helm, AHS always manages to accomplish the unbelievable. After the sick and twisted plotlines developed in the season's first 12 episodes, an empathetic and moving season finale actually brought many viewers to tears.
Those who missed the ground-breaking and critically-acclaimed Asylum the first time around get another chance this weekend. FX airs all 13 episodes -- tomorrow, August 23, from 10p to 5a, and Saturday, August 24, from 11p to 5a ET/PT. Asylum releases on Blu-ray and DVD on October 8, the day before the Coven premiere.