The newest trailer for American Horror Stories season 2 made a lot of horror references, which shouldn’t be a surprise to fans who know how much horror knowledge Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk poured into both the first season and its predecessor American Horror Story. With both shows focusing on vastly different horror sub-genres from season to season (and even from one episode to the next), it’s impressive just how well-researched each theme is.
One of the best examples of this is American Horror Story‘s ninth season, 1984. The season is overflowing with 80s nostalgia and horror allusions, to the point that it’s hard to watch it without comparing the characters to the famous slasher villains and victims they were modeled off. While a few of the characters felt truly original, the rest can best be understood through their slasher movie counterparts, who made it almost impossible to guess who the real villains were.
Ed — Crazy Ralph From Friday The 13th
Although the gas station scene is most heavily associated with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the best horror counterpart for the harbinger of doom is Crazy Ralph, who tried to keep the counselors in Friday the 13th from getting killed. He warned Annie Phillips not to go to camp and even went there himself in both of the first two movies to try to save the others.
Likewise, Ed did his best to keep Brooke and her friends from going to Camp Redwood. He may even have gone to the camp himself in a noble attempt to save them had he not first been found by Mr. Jingles, who killed him and stole his car. Between the ominous warning and the fatal encounter with the killer, Ed is the perfect parallel to Crazy Ralph.
Blake — Phil Stevens From Scream 2
While many surveys of the 80s references in 1984 point out the similarity between the boys spying on the girl’s shower in Porky‘s and Blake’s voyeurism, Blake has a clear slasher parallel in Phil Stevens from Scream 2. Phil puts his ear to the wall of the bathroom stall, enjoying a little auditory voyeurism, which leads to one of the most shocking deaths in horror history as the killer drives a knife through his ear.
Likewise, Blake reaps the bloody reward of spying on Trevor, Chet, and Ray in the shower when Mr. Jingles drives a knife through the back of his head and out his eye. Both victims were outside of the main cast of characters, serving as early victims to terrify the core characters, and their deaths fit the classic slasher notion that sins lead to death.
Jonas Shevoore — The Fisherman From I Know What You Did Last Summer
Jonas was an easy red herring because his introduction is so reminiscent of the hitchhiker from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and, more obviously, the Fisherman from I Know What You Did Last Summer. For those who know their horror history, both those characters end up being killers, so it would be natural to expect the same from Jonas.
Despite the obvious parallels, Jonas ends up being more important as the plot shifts from a slasher to a ghost story, where Jonas parallels several characters from The Others. Though he doesn’t know that he is a ghost for a while, he eventually seems to figure out what’s going on and learns to help out the other spirits trapped at Camp Redwood.
The Richter Family — The Voorhees Family From Friday The 13th
The biggest horror influence on AHS: 1984 was Friday the 13th, and that is clearest when considering the Richter family. Pamela Voorhees brought her son Jason to Camp Crystal Lake, where he was ostracized by the campers. Because of the counselors’ neglect and the campers’ torment, Jason ended up drowning, which prompted his mother to go on two rounds of killing sprees.
While the specifics of Bobby’s death come straight out of Sleepaway Camp, everything else connects with the Voorhees family trauma perfectly. Lavinia Richter came to Camp Golden Star as a cook, and while her elder son Benjamin was distracted by a lifeguard and counselor having sex, her younger son Bobby was killed in the lake. This led her to slaughter everyone at the camp before eventually being killed by Benji, years before he would go on his killing spree.
Donna Chambers — Holden Ford From Mindhunter
Though Mindhunter is not a slasher, its focus on serial killers makes an obvious connection. Holden Ford was an FBI Agent in the Behavior Sciences Unit who was obsessed with serial killers. He conducted many interviews with them, and his ability to connect with the killers helped him to get critical new evidence from them.
Likewise, Donna was inspired to study the psychology of serial killers because her father was one. She did extensive interviews with serial killers, leading up to a deadly experiment where she left the camp counselors to be killed. While this is far beyond Ford’s actions, it comes from the same need to understand the nature of killers and frustration with standard methods.
Montana Duke — Veronica From Heathers
While Montana’s desire for revenge and murderous tendencies are reminiscent of Angela from Sleepaway Camp, her eventual change of heart makes Veronica a better fit. When J.D. started killing the popular kids at school, Veronica let him, seeing his devotion to her as romantic. But eventually, she broke away and dedicated herself to keep him from causing any more harm.
This perfectly describes Montana’s arc. While fans could argue that Veronica was tricked while Montana knew what she was doing, the broad strokes are all the same. Organizing the spirits to keep Ramirez from hurting Bobby was a Veronica move, and they even share the same signature color.
Mr. Jingles — Michael Myers From Halloween
While the Richter family generally lines up with Friday the 13th, Mr. Jingles himself is more of the Michael Myers type. At six years old, Michael killed his older sister and was transported to an asylum, where he spent the next fifteen years. Though his time there is not extensively detailed, he came out worse than he went in, a cold-blooded and seemingly emotionless killer—one of the most iconic in horror history.
Benjamin Richter killed his mother at a young age, and though it was in self-defense, it surely had an impact on him. He then was sent to an asylum years later for a massacre he did not commit. While there, his ‘treatments’ broke him to the point where he forgot his innocence and returned to Camp Redwood a cold-blooded killer.
Margaret Booth — Jill Roberts From Scream 4
Margaret Booth is a composite version of Margaret White from Carrie and Angela from Sleepaway Camp, but the character she seems most like is fellow American Horror Story castmate Emma Roberts’s character, Jill Roberts. Jill wanted the fame and potential fortune that came from surviving a massacre, and she plotted an entire killing spree to get it.
Like Jill, Margaret was the killer herself in both the 1970 and 1984 killing sprees. Also like Jill, she put herself through serious bodily trauma to gain the role of Final Girl through treacherous methods. After surviving yet again, she triumphantly exclaimed, “I win! I am the final girl. I am always the final girl!” There can hardly be a statement more like the conniving Ghostface killer, making Jill Margaret’s primary slasher counterpart.
Brooke Thompson — Sidney Prescott From Scream
Brooke Thompson is the most traditional character in 1984, fitting the modern final girl archetype Sidney popularized. Sidney was one of the first final girls to have sex during the film and still make it out alive. She had a history of tragedy, from her mother’s murder through five Ghostface killings, but she kept up her strength to keep surviving, eventually moving on with her own family.
Though the reveal of Sidney’s husband and children didn’t come until three years after 1984, the parallels are easy to see. Brooke was at the center of a tragedy the year before the camp killings when her fiance killed himself and others at their wedding. She was then targetted by people who claimed to be her friends, being hunted on multiple occasions before finally making a life for herself. Though many scenes drew inspiration from Carrie, Shocker, and The Green Mile, it’s hard to deny her connection to Sidney.
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