American Horror Story: Asylum

Aired: October 17, 2012 – January 23, 2013

Set mostly in 1964, Kit Walker (Evan Peters) is accused of killing his wife (Britne Oldford) and locked up in Briarcliff Manor, an asylum that houses the criminally insane. Court appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Oliver Threadson (Zachary Quinto) is assigned to asses Walker’s ability to stand trial. Reporter Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) requests access to the asylum as she sees exposing the mistreatment of the patients as the making of her career. Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) denies her access so Lana sneaks in and is injured. Jude initially uses the injury and then Lana’s homosexuality to keep her locked away. Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) is using the patients to make the ultimate human beings. Dark forces are at work. In modern day in the ruins of Briarcliff will history repeat itself?

Asylum is the second show in the American Horror Story series.

 

There is a lot going on in Asylum. There are serial killers, alien abduction, demon possession, war criminals, the list goes on. The show tackles homosexuality, interracial marriage, unchecked medical practices and the abuses that occurred unchecked in asylums of the era. People treated as sub-human and disappeared easily. Each character is deeply complex and unique in their own right and few are truly evil, simply misguided in their approach to what they think is best for the world.

As would be expected from the calibre of performer to appear in a Ryan Murphy production, the acting is beyond reproach. I read a tweet not long ago that lauded Evan Peters as the Meryl Streep of the modern age and I can’t say that I disagree. He is an absolutely phenomenal artist. In Kit he is traumatized, confused and desperate. Kit is a man fighting for his life and the audience believes the urgency of his dilemma. Lily Rabe appears in this second outing as Sister Mary Eunice, a nun imbued with childlike innocence who turns evil. Frances Conroy appears briefly as an angel of death of sorts and her brief appearances are simply breathtaking. Though there are sex scenes in Asylum, they are less pronounced than in Murder House though, I must warn viewers that might be triggered, there is a pretty brutal rape scene that is in no way gratuitous.

Because of the many directions in which the stories go, some of them simply aren’t done very well. I know that there are lines throughout that will connect in the final season, perhaps the very poorly executed alien story-line that seems like an afterthought will re-emerge in Apocalypse. The backstories of the varied inmates (woman accused of killing her family, sex addicts, Anne Frank,  Pepper – a nonverbal patient who appears as a main character in the later installment Freak Show, etc…). Each character is explained and their motivations explored. Innocent and guilty melted together and forced to survive. Sister Jude rules the roost but she’s at odds with Doctor Arden believing that the experiments Briarcliff’s founder, Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes), has given Arden the space to perform is against nature but she soon finds herself with a greater adversary…her past.

I expected to be deeply uncomfortable with the cruelty of the Asylum and was but was intrigued with where the story would go and was not disappointed. The tie in of the past storyline with it’s present counterpart was expected but really well done. Adam Levine and Jenna Tatum are perhaps not the strongest actors in the piece but their brief appearance certainly makes its mark. Sarah Paulson especially was a standout as a later life Lana Winters. 

To say much more would be giving away the story so if you are one of the few people who haven’t seen this series and enjoy well acted drama, check it out. Let me know what you think.

 

American Horror Story Asylum is available as a DVD, Blu-ray and on Amazon Instant Video.

Amazon U.S.   Amazon U.K.   Amazon CA

Title American Horror Story Murder House
Director Ryan Murphy (and others)
Actors Evan Peters, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy, Sarah Paulson, Zachary Quinto (and others)
Length 13 episodes
Rating NR
DVD Release October 8, 2013

Back to the Future (1985)

Release Date: July 3, 1985 | DVD Release Date: March 8, 2016

 

Back in the FutureMuch has been written about this classic 1985 film starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson so rather than review the film, I plan to examine why it has remained popular 32 years after its initial release. Enjoy my take on Back to the Future (1985). Continue reading Back to the Future (1985)

Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)

Movie Released: December 9, 2007 | DVD Release Date:October 7, 2008

 

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Trudie (Melissa Joan Hart) is having a rough holiday season. She’s struggling financially and her boyfriend dumps her just before she heads home for the holidays. Feeling the pressure to please her parents (Timothy Bottoms and Markie Post), she kidnaps David (Mario Lopez) and convinces him to play along with her plan and pose as her boyfriend Nick. Can Trudie hold it together long enough to satisfy her parents?

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Movie Released: December 1, 1989 | DVD Released: September 30, 2008

 

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Clark Griswold has a dream of surprising his family with a backyard pool. The only impediment to making the dream a reality is that his bonus has yet to arrive. While they wait, Clark and crew enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with cherished family and surprise visitors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Elf (2003)

Movie Released: November 7, 2003 | DVD Releasd: October 24, 2006

 

DVD_ElfA child slipped into Santa’s sack one Christmas Eve and was taken to the North Pole where he was adopted by an older elf (Bob Newhart). When he finds out that he is human, the elf decides to go on a quest to New York City to find his biological father, a hard-hearted Children’s publisher. Will everything work out as Buddy expects?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Elf (2003)

Doctor Who 2014 Christmas Special: The Last Christmas

DVD Release Date: February 17, 2015

 

DVD_Doctor_Who_Last_Christmas The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenny Coleman) must help scientists plagued by crab-like creatures at a North Pole Scientific Station with the help of Santa (Nick Frost) and his elves.

Readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of Doctor Who as well as the comedic characters normally played by Nick Frost. In [easyazon_link identifier=”B00QHND1BO” locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Doctor Who: Last Christmas[/easyazon_link] the actor takes a darker interpretation of an iconic character.

 

 

Continue reading Doctor Who 2014 Christmas Special: The Last Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – A Love Letter

Movie Released: December 18, 1966 | DVD Released: October 20, 2015

 

DVD_How_The_Grinch_Stole_ChristmasThe 1966 version of [easyazon_link identifier=”B002JUFPUE” locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Deluxe Edition)[/easyazon_link], voice-acted by Boris Karloff,  is a holiday necessity in our household. We own the DVD but always make a point of watching when it airs on television. The green character with a heart three sizes too small and his dog Max, represent the true start to the Dewhirst holiday season.

 

Continue reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – A Love Letter

Spooky Halloween Reads and More for 2015

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Books

Reviewed especially for Halloween:

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Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography by Victoria Price

The late Vincent Price was the master of horror and comedy. His movies had an eerie and unsettling quality that made him a horror film icon. Read a review of his biography written by his daughter, Victoria Price.

 

 

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The Black Witch by Micheal Rivers

In the tradition of his enticing book Verliege, Rivers, once again, takes the reader on a supernatural adventure. This time, he chose the sea as a location for tragedy and suspense on board of The Black Witch—read what happens in this review.

 

 

GW_Oh_Shit_Im_DeadOh Shit, I’m Dead! by G.R. Williams

This debut novel by Williams is a short story into the afterlife. The character, Ray, takes readers along on an emotionally-charged journey to the final destination. Read The Oh Shit, I’m Dead! review.

 

 

 

 

Spooks Reads Recommendations

For this year’s Halloween, we put together some spooky reads that have been reviewed throughout the year on this website. Check out our Spooky Reads for Halloween 2015 list.

 

 

Further Reading

 

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The Mariner’s Shadow by Clive S. Johnson

Once again, Rabid Reader’s Reviews is able to present one of Clive S. Johnson’s popular poems The Mariner’s Shadow. Don’t miss out on his other two poems From a Moorland Walk and Remiss that were published on this blog in 2014. Clive S. Johnson is a science fiction author and poet. Check out a review of the book Cold Angel Days, the fourth book in The Dica Series.

 

Veronica Scott

Romance, science fiction author, Veronica Scott, presents a special post and illustrations dealing with Victorian Veggie People for Halloween.

 

HALLOWEENPALOOZA III: 31 Days of Halloween

There is a Halloween celebration going on on the HALLOWEENPALOOZA Facebook page. You can read short stories entered for this event on the HALLOWEENPALOOZA blog.

 

…and More

Last year’s movie reviews proved to be a success. This year again, we reviewed some movie classics for you:

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House of Wax (2005 | 1958)

A remake of the original House of Wax starring the legendary actor Vincent Price that does not live up to its 1953’s predecessor. The message conveyed in the modern version is that if you’re going to take a detour, take a lot of friends to keep the killers busy while you look for a way out. Read more about House of Wax.

 

 

 

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Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)

This movie was one of the first that introduced the audience to a formulaic plot line and gory details. It is a parody of southern hospitality, which at times, has a very comical effect. The film was mostly played in drive-in movies and became on instant success. Read more about Two Thousand Maniacs!

 

 

 

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The Screaming Skull (1958)

The Screaming Skull is a cult classic and a fun look at the classic, psychological horror genre. You won’t die of fright watching it, but it contains enough highly dramatic and scary moments to keep you watching. The movie was based on the classic horror story by the author F. Marion Crawford and originally published in 1911. Read more about The Screaming Skull.

 

 

 

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 Shaun of the Dead (2004)

This horror, comedy movie is a British-French-American production dealing with an apocalyptic zombie uprising and has become a cult classic. Because of its satirical approach, it is now considered one of the top horror movies of the decade and the best zombie movie ever made. According to Screenrant, Shaun of the Dead is one of Tarantino’s top 20 movies.

 

 

 

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Ghost Ship (2002)

Originally, the screenplay was written as a relatively bloodless psychological horror movie. The script underwent several revisions and turned Ghost Ship into a gory film with an emphasis on the supernatural element.

 

 

 

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The Uninvited (1944)

This atmospheric and moody film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Black and White Cinematorgraphy in 1945. The movie is based on the novel “Uneasy Freehold” by Dorothy Macardle that was published in 1942. The Uninvited is listed as one of the 11 scariest horror movies of all time by Martin Scorsese.

 

 

DVD_Attack_of_the_Killer_TomatoesAttack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)

What type of movie do you get when scientists experiment with tomatoes? A musical, black comedy horror B-movie that is so bad, it became part of the pop culture. Although Attack of the Killer Tomatoes will probably go into the annals of the worst vegetable movie ever made, fans are pushing for a remake.

 

 

 

DVD_Killer_Klowns_from_Outer_Space

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)

This movie is a science fiction, a horror comedy that has reached a cult classic status. Aliens, who resemble evil circus clowns, invade a small town. Although the storyline is considered quite simple, the movie, in general, is reminiscent of past B-movies. Killer Klowns From Outer Space received praise for its special effects and visual design.

 

 

 

Around the Internet

On the Metro page you can check out the 5 tips (from scientists) on how to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Bored Panda has a great recipe for a red velvet zombielicious Brain Cake.

Live Science page has a ‘The Walking Dead’: How to Survive a Zombie Invasion article on their site.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition is having a Halloween round-up. Articles include the history and traditions of HalloweenThe Perfect Halloween PumpkinHow to Make Green Goo/GloopPumpkin-Potato-Polenta Dumplings and Scary Tales for Halloween.

Zombie Research Society is the leading expert on everything zombie. Their homepage is dedicated to zombie survival, zombie culture and zombie science. Enjoy articles like The Benefit of Cannibalism, Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, Zombie-Proof your Apartment, 7 Badass Zombie Kills, and the Apocalypse Check List: High-Tech Gadgets.

Business Insider released an article A giant ‘spooky’ space rock is flying close to Earth on Halloween, but that’s not the most disturbing part. We hope this is not any kind of zombie apocalypse.

Fast Company has run an article with photos of Running a Haunted House is Scarier Than You Think.

Missed Spooky Halloween Reads and More last year? check out our post now.

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Ship Illustration:
©Clive Johnson — All Rights Reserved

Skull Photo:
©Rowan Russell — All Rights Reserved

The Uninvited (1944)

Movie Released: 1944 in b/w | DVD Release Date: October 22, 2013

 

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Composer Rick Fitzgerald (Ray Milland) and his sister, Pamela (Ruth Hussey) fall in love with Windward Mansion while on a seaside vacation. They soon discover that they are not the only occupants of the stately mansion as they hear a woman sobbing in the night and feel inexplicable chills in empty rooms. Will they discover the identity of the uninvited guest before it’s too late?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading The Uninvited (1944)