Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘American Horror Story: 1984’ is the perfect homage to 1980s horror classics

How could someone trip so many times when running from an axe-wielding murderer?
Courtesy of American Horror Story Facebook Page

The ninth season of FX’s “American Horror Story” is only six episodes deep as of last Wednesday, but if the thrills of this new season recalls a feeling of déjà vu, it’s because it should. This year’s theme, simply titled “AHS: 1984” is the embodiment of 1980s slasher horror which is perfect for anyone looking to find a way to enjoy their favorite Halloween classics with a fresh AHS-twist to them.

Slasher horror is a subgenre of horror that frequently portrays a villain who is usually rejected by society and has psychopathic tendencies, who stalks and wreaks havoc on a group of people. Most of the time, the group of victims is made up of adolescents. Think “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” where the film is teenagers versus the mysterious and sinister Freddy Krueger. “American Horror Story” has played around with the slasher horror idea a little bit in the past with a character like Twisty the Clown from season four, who fits the model of isolation-turned-violent flawlessly.

According to an Instagram post from Brad Falchuk, the co-writer and producer of American Horror Story alongside creator, Ryan Murphy, the idea of not only this season, but the entire American Horror Story series stems from their shared love of the slasher genre.

“Friday the 13th is the movie that turned me onto horror,” Falchuk wrote. “Simple, relatable and terrifying.”

Wes Craven’s “Friday the 13th” is especially significant in this ninth season for not just the “kids against the murderer” portrayal, but for its notorious location: a summer camp. At first glance, “AHS: 1984”, thus far, follows a few college-aged kids from California preparing to be counselors at the newly refurbished Camp Redwood. But this camp in particular comes with a twist: an entire cabin of campers was killed a decade or so prior to the establishment’s reopening. Not to mention, unsurprisingly, the killer has just escaped from the mental hospital where he was being held in, returning with full plans to finish what he started.

By no means does one need to be an avid fan of 1980s horror to recognize the most obvious recurring theme of its slasher films: the good old summer camp gone wrong trope. Take lesser known, but undoubtedly key films like “Madman” from 1981 and “Sleepaway Camp” from 1983, which both serve as great examples of why one should never taunt the camp’s outcast or go off alone in the dark at night. But of course, these are exactly the kind of events that occur to the characters of “AHS: 1984.” Other notable clichés include cars stalling at the wrong time, batteries dying in the flashlight when needed the most and young lovers deciding to go skinny-dipping in the lake late at night, because what could possibly go wrong there?

Fans might recognize the likelihood of the “final girl” trope popping up this season through the character Brooke Thompson (Emma Roberts). The idea of a final girl is that the most innocent of the group of adolescents, is typically a girl and always somehow ends up being the last survivor. Brooke is a quiet, timid girl who doesn’t quite fit in with the others and she always seems to be the one to notice the strange situations occurring before the others do. Her character also name shares an uncanny resemblance to that of Nancy Thompson, the “final girl” of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” This could be a coincidence, but it was most likely snuck into the season by Falchuk or Murphy as an allusion to the great film.

No matter what your Halloween slasher horror favorites are, you’re sure to recognize a little bit of them in “AHS: 1984.” With other current 80s themed productions like “Stranger Things” and the revamped “It” movies taking on a more sophisticated type of thrill, it’s nice to see slasher horror shown in new ways without losing its old feel.

In his caption to the season’s trailer in an Instagram post, Murphy put it simply, “1980s horror never looked so good.”

“American Horror Story: 1984” airs on FX on Wednesdays at 10 p.m.

Christina Paluzzi is a Collegian correspondent and can be reached at [email protected].

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