The new season of American Horror Story is going to give new meaning to the phrase “heartbreak hotel.”
“It’s a fresh, brand new hell,” Angela Bassett told Bio of the upcoming season. “It’s going to satisfy tremendously.”
AHS: Hotel is the fifth installment in FX’s Emmy-nominated horror anthology series -- and the first without Jessica Lange. For this ominous outing, AHS executive producer Ryan Murphy brought on board Mother Monster herself Lady Gaga to join returning favorites like Bassett, Kathy Bates and Sarah Paulson for the campy, over-the-top, bloody good fun the show has become known for.
“It’s darker [than the previous seasons],” Murphy claims, which is setting the bar for the fright factor and disturbing visuals pretty darn high. “This year harkens back to the first season, which is much more rooted in primal fears.”
As you can tell from the title, Season 5’s horror theme is a haunted hotel. Set in downtown Los Angeles, the story centers around the Hotel Cortez, an art deco structure built in the 1930s that has some troubling secrets buried (quite literally) within its walls…and even the mattresses. And yes, as the cliché goes, people check in, but not everyone checks out. (Watch out for Room 64, people!)
Lording over the property with a razor-sharp steel-clawed fist is hotel owner Elizabeth (Lady Gaga), a wealthy, fashion-loving socialite who’s known as “The Countess.” And the Lady is a vamp! Well, she’s not exactly a vampire, but she is a supernatural seductress who…drinks human blood. She also has her own Little Monsters -- a pack of creepy tow-headed children who scurry around the hotel hallways like something out of Village of the Damned.
“She has a nefarious plan that is revealed in the first episode that plays out over the course of the season,” Murphy told reporters at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.
Of course, you can expect some bad romance, too… The sex-crazed, bloodthirsty Countess is involved with several characters, including Matt Bomer, who plays her lover Donovan; Finn Wittrock, who plays male model Tristan Duffy; and Cheyenne Jackson’s “fashion icon,” Will Drake, who takes over the penthouse in the opener. We’re already hearing the sex scenes this season are out-rage-ous. (Just wait until you see one freaky foursome in the season premiere.)
The horrors of addiction count as one of the themes this season, and central to that plotline is Sarah Paulson, entering the mix as “Hypodermic Sally,” a junkie who lives at the hotel.
“It’s very exciting,” Paulson told Bio about playing the bad girl on AHS for a change. “I’ve always played some version of the hero, or the victim, or the person who comes out on top.”
“My character is a drug addict. She’s quite dark,” Paulson explained. “And the way I look…whoa, it’s really insane. It’s not like the way I’ve looked on the show, ever, ever, ever…I walk out of the trailer and people are like, ‘Oh my God’…let’s just say there is a lot of grease involved in what I look like.”
“I’m watching a lot of ‘Sid & Nancy’ for inspiration,” she added.
Oh, and by the way, there’s also a white, faceless demon thing that’s scaring the bejesus out of everyone who enters the hotel. Beyond those macabre sights and frights, there’s a murderer on the loose known as “The Ten Commandments Killer.”
Wes Bentley plays homicide detective John Lowe, whose investigation into a series of grisly murders leads him to the Cortez. He’s married to Chloe Sevigny’s pediatrician Alex Lowe, and they are coming to grips with a great loss in their family.
Bassett plays Ramona Royale, “an actress of the day,” who, as one of her former lovers, has “a very strong, real lasting relationship with [Lady Gaga’s] character.” “I’m not bad, but I’m naughty,” Bassett told Bio when we asked about her character.
Kathy Bates plays hotel manager Iris, who wrangles the guests and tangles with the Countess. “I think we’ll have some confrontations,” Bates teased to Bio. “It’s a tricky relationship.” She also has a tricky relationship with Donovan.
Fellow returning player Evan Peters checks in as businessman Mr. March, who built the hotel, while Denis O’Hare slays it in his role as a bald cross-dresser named Liz Taylor.
Expect several other characters from previous seasons to be checking into Hotel, including Emma Roberts, who’s currently starring in Murphy’s other horror series, Scream Queens, and Christine Estabrook, who reprises her realtor character Marcy from the first season (yes, since we’re back in LA, a trip to Season 1’s Murder House is in store).
And where is AHS fave Lily Rabe in all this? Waiting in the wings with another juicy part. She’ll return for the Halloween episodes to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As if that cast list isn’t large enough, there also will be a few new faces roaming the sinister hallways of the Hotel Cortez: a bleached blonde Max Greenfield (of New Girl) as a junkie; Mare Winningham as the creepy hotel laundry lady tasked with cleaning all the blood-stained sheets; and Naomi Campbell as a fashion editor, er, victim.
That’s all we can tell you about AHS: Hotel for now.
Enjoy your stay…and don’t look under the bed!
American Horror Story: Hotel premieres Wednesday, October 7 at 10/9c on FX.