Are you an avid fan of horror movies? Or do you tend to stay away and opt for a good ol' comedy? If you are, in fact, a horror story connoisseur, you'll know that some things are even more story just because they're based on real facts. Not that American Horror Story needed to be any scarier, but many of the characters are based on real life terrifying things. The writers over at AHS definitely did their research. If you'd rather cuddle up and watch a RomCom, these tales are probably not for you.
Kathy Bates played Madame Delphine LaLaurie, who masqueraded as a kind person, but, as we know of this show, was obviously hiding something. In real life this character had a "Chamber of Horrors" in her home, and it is thought that over 100 slaves died by terrible means of torture, from spiked collars to grotesque mutilation. She is still known as one of the most infamous serial killers in the world. Her home is still standing, located in New Orleans. And, surprise surprise, it's thought to be haunted.
The Axeman, portrayed by Danny Huston in AHS, still remains something of a mystery. He killed an estimated six to seven people from May 1918 to October 1919. He would sneak into his victims' homes through their backdoor, and murder them with an axe that was usually their own. On March 13, he wrote a letter, from "Hell." He said that if on the following Tuesday night people played jazz in their homes, that home would be spared. If they didn't? "One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe." No one was killed that night, and people flocked together to play jazz music. The Axeman was never heard from again.
Elizabeth Short was played by Mena Suvari in the television show, taking on the role of a young actress who was savagely murdered, soon becoming known as The Black Dahlia. She was found dead in the streets of Los Angeles, her body chopped in half and drained of blood. Three inch cuts had been gashed into each corner of her mouth, giving her a horrific smile. Some people have claimed they know who the killer was, but to this day, no killer has been identified and their claims were invalidated. The case remains cold since her death in 1947.
It's pretty much universally agreed that clowns in general are terrifying. But Twisty the Clown is so much worse than normal. Twisty the Clown is based on John Wayne Gacy, who went by the name Pogo the Clown, and would perform at charity events and children's birthday parties. It was at these parties that Gacy would bring teenage boys back to his home, then rape and murder them. From 1972 to 1978, he killed at least 33 boys, and buried 26 of them in a crawl space inside his home. When he ran out of room inside his own home, he rid of the bodies in a local river.
A less morbid tale than the rest, Kit and Alma Walker from the show were based on Barney and Betty Hill, who claimed that they were abducted briefly by aliens. On a September night in 1961 at around 10:30 P.M, they recalled seeing a bright light along a vacant road. They said that it appeared above their car, and began to rattle it. They don't recall what happened after, but they had travelled 40 miles without recalling any of it. Later, their stories were extracted by hypnosis, and both of their separate accounts of being medically examined by aliens matched up to one another's stories.
Mr. March was played by Evan Peters, and based on H.H. Holmes, who is known as America's first serial killer. Holmes was born Herman Webster Mudgett to a wealthy family and had a privileged childhood where he liked to study medicine, and practice surgery on animals. Some reports state that he may have even killed a childhood friend. He moved to Chicago in 1885 and built a hotel there, which is now dubbed the "Murder Castle" because of its small torture rooms and trapdoors with chutes that let him easily dispose of the bodies to the basement, where he could burn them. He is estimated to have killed anywhere from 20 to 200 people, and was hanged for his crimes in 1896.
Dot and Bette in AHS were likely based on the real life conjoined twins, Violet and Daisy Hilton. The two were born in 1908 in England to Kate Skinner, an unmarried barmaid who believed their condition was a punishment for her sins. Mary Hilton, who Skinner worked for, took the two twins in as her own. However, she did so to put them in a circus at the age of three, and would beat them if they didn't perform up to standard. They didn't receive any of the money they earned until the age of 23, when they sued their managers and went into show business on their own. The two died at the age of 60 from the flu.
Jimmy Darling was played by Evan Peters in the show, and based on an actual real life person, Grady Stiles Jr. He was born with ectrodactyly in 1937, which means his fingers and toes were fused together. He toured in sideshows, and the syndrome ran in his family for over a century. He was unable to walk because of the condition. When his daughter was engaged to a young man he didn't like, Stiles Jr. murdered him with a shotgun. In 1993 he was killed by a hired assassin.
Richard Speck was born in 1941 to an abusive father and had a tumultuous childhood. He was already on the run for murdering a barmaid in his local tavern on April 13th, 1966. But on July 13th, 1966, he showed up on the doorstep of a townhouse in Chicago where nine young nurses lived in a communal home. He systematically murdered eight of the nurses one by one, raping at least one. One nurse, however, managed to hide under a bed and escape once he left. The Murder House was depicted in AHS, haunted by two of the nurses.
Yes, this is believed to be a real actual person born in the 19th century. And no, for once, thank god, this man wasn't a killer. In the series he set out to kill the Freak Show cast, but in real life Edward Mordrake suffered from a vestigial face on the back of his head. Surgeons refused to remove the face because it would have been too risky. He committed suicide at the age of 23, tormented by what he said were demonic whispers from the face.
Schlitzie Surtees was born with microcephaly, and was the inspiration for Pepper on AHS. This neurodevelopmental disorder caused him to be born with a small brain and a small skull, which resulted in an intellectual disability, causing him to have the mental capacity of about a three-year-old. He performed in circus sideshows in the 1900s. He was also in a movie, Freaks, which came out in 1932.
If you'll be turning your TV off and keeping the nightlight on after this, we don't blame you. But if you also keep binge watching American Horror Story, well, we don't really blame you for that either. We might be checking under our beds and in the closet before we go to bed tonight.