You’ll be unsurprised to hear that American Horror Story creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Fulchuk are massive movie buffs. As we await each episode of the sixth series of their acclaimed, bloodthirsty TV show – which features new characters and a new theme, from Asylum to Coven, each time it returns – we’re all wondering which scary scenes they’ll pay homage to this time around. Because previous series have been jam-packed with references to freaky films that have inspired them. Such as…
The whited-out eyes in AHS: Coven
The influence of horror movie badlad Lucio Fulci, whose deeply disturbing films outraged prurient types in the 70s and 80s, has been felt across the genre since he first spilled blood on the screen. This scene is surely a throwback to his 1981 splatter flick The Beyond.
The décor in AHS: Hotel
You sort of can’t set a horror story in a hotel and not evoke thoughts of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece The Shining, adapted from the classic Stephen King novel. This geometric rug, for example, wouldn’t look out of place in The Overlook Hotel.
Bloody Face in AHS: Asylum
Featured in AHS: Asylum, Bloody Face is the vicious alter-ego of a serial killer whose rampage is inspired by that of his own murderous father. You don’t have to be a horror movie fanatic to spot a similarity to Leatherface from Tober Hooper’s timeless 1974 slasher The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, whose killing streak was also inherited from his family.
The head restraints in AHS: Asylum
Young Jimmy has a right time of it in series two of the show, set in a psychiatric hospital, as he’s restrained and subjected to a process that is meant to change his behaviour. Which is similar to the horrifying scene from Kurbick’s dystopian chiller A Clockwork Orange in which Alex (Malcolm McDowell) suffers a similar fate.
Vampire children in AHS: Hotel
It should probably come as no surprise that The Countess (Lady Gaga) has some freaky looking vampire kids. Even less surprising is that Murphy and Fulchuk have demonstrated their horror fan chops once again, as the kids seem to reference Village of the Damned, the eerie 1960 horror about a town overrun by freakily smart, ominous children (turn adapted from John Wyndman’s 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos).
The creepy title card in AHS: Coven
This little number crops up in the opening credits to the witchy third series of the show. It looks a little similar to the little-known 1922 movie Häxan, a documentary that features dramatized scenes and argues that 15th Century witchhunts were the result of misunderstanding of mental illnesses.
The opening shot of AHS: Murder House
Remember the famous, eerie tracking shot of Leatherface’s house in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? You will if you watched AHS: Murder House, whose opening scenes tipped a nod to Hooper’s masterwork.
Getting spermy in AHS: Asylum
Having a handful of sperm slung at you by a stranger: probably not an everyday occurrence for everyone (unless it’s a hobby, in which case – fine). Anyway, it’s possibly no coincidence that both AHS: Asylum and Silence of The Lambs feature scenes of exactly this phenomenon occurring. In the latter, it happens to Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster). Never to be upstaged, Murphy and Fulchuck throw muck at a bloody nun!
The maggoty sandwich in AHS: Hotel
Pretty boy model Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock) loses his shit and gets lost in the maze-like hotel, but still finds time for a little snack. Unfortunately, that snack is a sandwich writhing with maggots. The scene recalls from the maggoty slab of meat in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic Poltergeist. In neither case does a maggot snack look like something that would feature in NME’s ‘Eats & Beats’ page.
The backwards spider crawl in AHS: Asylum
The opening scene of the psychiatric ward series features perhaps the show’s most explicit horror movie reference yet. Where else have you seen someone do a backwards spider crawl thing? Unless you’ve been watching the gymnastics, the answer is The Exorcist.