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TV Wasteland: A Whole New Horror Story
FX's horror series takes a wild twist
By Rob Vaux
October 15, 2012
American Horror Story returns to FX this week… which should come as a bit of surprise, since pretty much the entire cast was killed off at the end of last season. The producers responded by starting an entirely new story, set decades earlier at a lunatic asylum and featuring series darling Jessica Lange in an entirely new role. It’s a fascinating prospect, borrowed from Spanish-language soaps and other foreign television but rarely seen here in the States.
It helps give one of cable’s more unusual shows an extra distinctiveness, while letting new viewers get into the swing of things without having to hunt down copies of previous seasons to catch up. It also demonstrates – yet again – the widening gulf between cable programming and network models. Nothing this unusual could ever show up on ABC or CBS – no matter how hard they insist otherwise – and despite the fact that David Lynch’s Twin Peaks more or less began this trend, the television landscape has changed so dramatically since then that the execs who greenlit the show would hardly recognize it. The big four networks continue to function as outdated dinosaurs, clinging resolutely to past methods that no longer push the medium forward. For the rest of us, we have more than enough to look forward to to pass them over in favor of real television entertainment.
The second season of American Horror Story starts this Wednesday, October 17, at 10:00 PM EST.
Revolution (NBC, 10:00 PM EST)
A new wrinkle threatens the gang’s attempts to rescue Danny, while Nora finds a fellow rebel who will presumably be giving them a hand in the future.
Alphas (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
Rosen is still a little cranky from his daughter’s death, and takes it out on a new Alpha prisoner, even as Harken and Gary devise a plan for freeing Skylar.
Blade II (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Why this film rocks so much harder than the rest of the Blade series is beyond me. It may be the director… Guillermo del something…
Beyond (Cinemax, 8:30 PM EST)
We head out to Alaska for a little psychic snooping, as a paranormal radio host teams up with a cop to find a missing child. I’m sure it won’t be as relentlessly trite as it sounds.
Open Water and Open Water 2: Adrift (IFC, 8:00 PM EST and 9:45 PM EST)
Remember back about a decade ago, when horror films thought that mashing your face in nihilistic despair was the same thing as scaring you? IFC does.
Return of the Jedi (Spike, 7:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
No yub-yub song, no peace.
Face Off (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
The contestants must create cyborg make-up using material found in a junkyard.
Hot Set (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
The designers need to create a set for a serial killer’s lair in this week’s challenge.
Friday the 13th Marathon (AMC, 6:00 PM EST, 8:00 PM EST, and 10:15 PM EST)
AMC runs Parts 2, 3, and 4 of the infamous slasher series, covering most of the pertinent moments in the development of Jason Voorhees.
Apollo 18 (Showtime, 8:30 PM EST)
The supposedly secret 18th mission to the moon – a favorite theory among the tinfoil hat crowd – gets a new treatment as found footage horror. Not the wisest move in the world.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
It’s not even offensive enough to be interesting.
Underworld: Awakening (Starz, 10:40 PM EST)
Ditto this wretched fourth entry in the Underworld series, which actually sucks out the appeal of seeing Kate Beckinsale in skintight vinyl.
An American Haunting (Sundance, 9:00 PM EST)
Courtney Solomon directs this snoozefest about a 19th Century Tennessee family who has a run-in with a ghost.
Darkness Falls (FMC, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
The monster is the toothy fairy here. Yes, really. Tune in at your own risk.
The Brothers Grimm (IFC, 10:15 PM EST)
IFC has been running this one quite a bit. Pity it can’t measure up to director Terry Gilliam’s reputation.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (ABC Family, 7:30 PM EST)
Things take a turn for the scary in the Potter-verse when Lord Voldemort returns just in time to muck up the local sporting event.
Also, those two guys running for president have at it again. You probably should tune in. Civic duty and all that.
Arrow (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Oliver takes control of the company even as the local Chinese Triad starts making trouble.
Supernatural (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
A killer targets people who all received organs from the same donor, prompting the boys to start up a new hunt.
American Horror Story: Asylum (FX, 10:00 PM EST)
FX’s horror show starts the new season with a completely clean slate. See the top of the article for more.
Ghost Hunters (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
They’re pretty sparse with the description this week, so we’ll say… haunted theater?
Paranormal Witness (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
The team heads to sunny California to check out a haunted house and a reported ghost sighting in the Hollywood Hills.
Horror of Dracula (TCM, 8:00 PM EST)
Now we’re talking! Christopher Lee dons cape and fangs for one of the most iconic versions of Dracula ever put on film.
The Curse of Frankenstein (TCM, 9:30 PM EST)
The Hammer hits keep on coming with this terrific take on Mary Shelley’s classic. Peter Cushing plays the not-so-good doctor and Christopher Lee plays the monster he creates.
The Mummy (TCM, 11:00 PM EST)
If that doesn’t quench your thirst for Hammer horror, TCM has a third helping for you, as Lee and Cushing head to Egypt (or a reasonable English facsimile) for the tale of an ancient curse.
The Gorgon (TCM, 12:45 AM EST)
Our cup runneth over with another great Hammer pairing of Cushing and Lee. The monster this time turns its victims to stone.
The Devil’s Bride (TCM, 2:15 AM EST)
But wait! There’s more! Lee goes solo in this outing – and plays the hero to boot, taking on an evil Satanic cult.
Plague of the Zombies (TCM, 4:00 PM EST)
TCM concludes its marathon with a non-Hammer horror movie about voodoo spells (i.e., the zobmeis here are of the non-apocalyptic variety.)
Friday the 13th Marathon (AMC, 6:00 PM EST, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
AMC runs Parts 4, 5 and 6 tonight, charting the series’ gradual decline into self-parody. (Not that it was ever high art to begin with.)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (ABC Family, 8:00 PM EST)
That Delores Umbridge is so mean! If only we had a pair of irreverent pranksters somewhere to put her in her place…
The Matrix Revolutions (Cinemax, 8:45 PM EST)
There’s a reason no one’s asking for a Part 4…
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (FX, 7:00 PM EST)
Awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful…
Cowboys & Aliens (HBO, 8:00 PM EST)
Director Jon Favreau is too smart and too talented to turn in a mediocre piece of high concept nonsense like this one.
The Punisher (Spike, 7:00 PM EST)
The trouble is, no matter how much you dress up Thomas Jane, he’s never going to look like he sleeps in a drainage pipe.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
Stick with the original version. It’s better than this one.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00 PM EST)
Howard returns home to a surprisingly cold reception, while the rest of the gang turns game night into an extended game of he-said-she-said.
Last Resort (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
Chaplin and Kendal received formal treason charges, which I’m guessing really ruins their day.
Elementary (CBS, 10:00 PM EST)
Holmes takes on a serial killer who abducts and murders little children. My snark appears to be broken, so just assume that it’s going to be a disappointment.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Elena comes to grips with her new life as one of the undead, while a suspected vampire hunter arrives in town asking all sorts of awkward questions.
Beauty and the Beast (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
Cat and Vincent team up to investigate a ballerina’s murder, and the new man in Tess’s life turns out to have a few unexpected surprises.
Friday the 13th Marathon (AMC, 6:00 PM EST, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
They’re running parts 6, 7, and 8 tonight… and if you’re still with them, I salute your sheer stubborn endurance.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (ABC Family, 7:30 PM EST)
ABC Family is now to the Harry Potter series what Spike is to Star Wars. Make your programming decisions accordingly.
Lake Placid (Cinemax, 8:20 PM EST)
We’re still struggling to forgive David E. Kelley for the whole Wonder Woman unpleasantness, but he directed this giant crocodile movie, which isn’t bad.
The Matrix (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
There is no spoon, Neo. It’s just an artificial construct created by sending signals into your brain that… oh, just stop worrying and hit something, willya?
Girl vs. Monster (Disney, 8:30 PM EST)
Disney unleashes one of its patented tween-based irritants about a high school girl who sets a monster loose on Halloween night.
Doomsday (FMC, 7:30 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
Neil Marshall’s done better and you won’t find many sci-fi movies more derivative than this, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a fun ride.
Punisher: War Zone (IFC, 10:30 PM EST)
Calling this the best Punisher movie ever is kind of like proclaiming it the world’s tallest midget, but them’s the facts regardless.
One Missed Call (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
The long line of J-horror remakes comes to an ignominious end in this tale about a vengeful ghost killing people through their cell phones.
Thi13en Ghosts (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
This remake of the old William Castle thriller is a lot of drive-in fun, thanks to the awesome-looking ghosts and gorgeous production design.
Grimm (NBC, 9:00 PM EST)
The death of a high school athlete draws Nick and Hank’s attention, while Renard has to deal with a romantic stalker.
Nikita (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
Season Three opens with Nikita and Ryan attempting to bring a group of rogue agents into Division.
Haven (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
A female vigilante sets her sights on Duke as part of a purge of Haven’s criminal element.
The Addams Family and Addams Family Values (ABC Family, 7:00 PM EST and 9:00 PM EST)
Barry Sonnenfeld’s handsome, creepy and very funny homage to Charles Addams delivers an agreeable night of laughs on ABC Family.
Friday the 13th Marathon (AMC, 5:45 PM EST and 8:00 PM EST)
It’s Parts 8 and 9 tonight, in which Jason slashes his way through the Big Apple and then goes to Hell for it.
The Shining (BBC America, 8:00 PM EST)
Snowbound hotels apparently aren’t the best places to raise a family.
The Adjustment Bereau (HBO, 8:00 PM EST)
Come for the Twilight Zone premise, stay for the surprisingly effective love story.
The Exorcist (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
It’s as good a horror film as any yet made, but it’s hardly an independent movie.
Saw (IFC, 10:45 PM EST)
Now this one qualifies as an independent. Too bad it sucks.
Bedlam (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
Ellie deals with the emotional fallout of her former relationship, even as an undead bride threatens to disrupt an upcoming wedding.
Friday the 13th Marathon (AMC, 9:45 AM EST)
For those of your interested in completely pissing away your Saturday, AMC is running Parts 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 (aka The Unspeakably Shitty Ones) starting at 9:45 AM. Save some time afterwards to weep for the hours wasted.
Hocus Pocus (ABC Family, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker headline a less-than-memorable family film about a trio of Salem witches resurrected on Halloween.
The Running Man (Cinemax, 7:15 PM EST)
Want to know how badly they can screw up a great Stephen King story? Arnold Schwarzenegger has the answer.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (FMC, 9:00 PM EST)
Brad Pitt stars as a man who ages in reverse, in a film that couldn’t beg harder for an Oscar if it tried.
The Girl (HBO, 9:00 PM EST)
HBO gets an early start in the Alfred-Hitchcock-biopic sweepstakes, with the sudsy supposition that Hitch became obsessed with leading lady Tippi Hedren.
Creepshow (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
Stephen King and George A. Romero unleash five horror tales inspired by the pages of E.C. Comics.
Teeth (IFC, 10:30 PM EST)
Living next to a nuclear power plant gives a nice young Christian girl a few option extras for her lady parts… notably razor-sharp teeth that have a way of slicing off not-so-nice boy parts that come calling.
Daybreakers (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
Think of it as the not-very-good sequel to I Am Legend, as a new all-vampire society finds itself in big trouble when the blood supply starts to run out.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
AKA The Lycans Go Medieval, in which top-notch British hams Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen duke it out for world supremacy. Seriously, it’s not bad.
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9:00 PM EST)
“The survivors deal with a new threat.” Thanks for clearing that up, AMC.
Dexter (Showtime, 9:00 PM EST)
Debra takes the heat for problems at the department, and Dexter resolves to help his sister in his own unique way.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
Rumplestiltskin serves as the focus this week, as Belle threatens to leave him in the real world and pirates threaten his wife in the fairy-tale world.
666 Park Avenue (ABC, 10:00 PM EST)
Henry has to decide whether to cut loose of Gavin or be dragged down with him.
Beetlejuice (ABC Family, 8:02 PM EST)
Michael Keaton stars in the best role of his career, as Tim Burton scores the first in a staggeringly long line of hits.
Edward Scissorhands (ABC Family, 10:00 PM EST)
Johnny Depp was doomed to Teen Beat purgatory before his haunting performance in the title role gave his career a new lease on life.
Elektra (Cinemax, 9:15 PM EST)
Even Jennifer Garner looks bored with this one.
The Last Legion (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
They keep playing this, even though it sucks. Why, God, why?
X-Men: First Class (HBO, 6:45 PM EST)
You’ve seen this, right? Please tell me you’ve seen this.
Queen of the Damned (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
It strangles the burgeoning Anne Rice franchise almost before it has a chance to get going. Followed by Blade II at 9:00 PM EST.
Gulliver’s Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town (TCM, 8:00 PM EST and 9:30 PM EST)
If you need a break from all the ghosts and goblins, TCM is running two animated features from the Fleischer Bros studios. The first one, a revamp of Gulliver’s Travels, isn’t so hot, but the second is an unjustly neglected masterpiece that could stand with any of Disney’s features from the same era.