Sunday, July 17, 2016

Modern Day Grand Guignol

Has "American Horror Story" Refreshed the 1960's Grand Guignol Genre?"
A comparison report by "The Concluding Chapter of Crawford" 

Original report September 26th, 2013, with July 17th, 2016 update
(Copyright Bryan Johnson)

Jessica Lange in "American Horror Story" (2013)  &  Joan Crawford in "Strait-Jacket" (1964)

       The "American Horror Story" anthology series premiered in 2011, teaming seasoned and critically acclaimed actresses Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy, and has since established them solidly as players in the horror genre. 
     Both actresses are from the previous generation of actresses performing today, and have previously not been commonly linked or associated with the horror culture.
Very similar to Joan and Bette Davis with "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" upon it's release in 1962, which made popular the formula of older actresses in horror.

     Within the world of "American Horror Story", the characters portrayed each season by Lange and Conroy are dueling against one another due to hostility from past experiences, very similar to the formula ingrained into the story lines of "...Baby Jane" and "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte".

     Interesting, "American Horror Story" follows the same casting format filmmaker Robert Aldrich used, which was using a similar cast in "...Sweet Charlotte" as he did in "...Baby Jane".
Unfortunately, of course, Joan was fired from the production of "Hush", thus the format didn't fully make it onto the screen.

     "American Horror Story" stirs echoes from Joan's 1960's Grand Guignol films - particularly, "Strait-Jacket".
In the first season of "AHS", we watch as Lange murders her husband when she discovers him cheating, and then destroys the body by grinding it up and feeding it to her pet dogs.
When later questioned by police regarding her lack of interest in her husband's disappearance, Lange's character coquettishly replies to officers "When I found out Hugo had been cheating, he meant no more to me than dog shit." while sporting a similar 'beehive' hairstyle that Joan displayed in "I Saw What You Did".

     For "American Horror Story's" third season "Coven" which premiered on October 9th, 2013, it added four more additional older actresses to the formula, Academy Award winner Kathy Bates and Golden Globe winner Angela Bassett, along with critically-acclaimed stage actresses Patty LuPone and Christine Ebersole.

     In May 2016, "American Horror Story" creator Ryan Murphy announced that Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon will star in "FEUD", premiering in 2017. A dramatization of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis' legendary feud during the filming of "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" in 1962.
     So, it does appear that Ryan Murphy was directly influenced by the 1960s Grand Guignol genre, and that genre's signature actresses; Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.

Fan-made poster for "FEUD"

To Learn More About Joan Crawford And The Grand Guignol Genre, Visit:

The Concluding Chapter Of Crawford

Follow Us On Facebook!

No comments:

Post a Comment