7 Things To Expect From American Horror Story: Hotel

Look Out for a Shining Reference In Episode One

by | October 5, 2015 | Comments

Between the sinister child spirits, the blood-stained sheets and drug-addled residents with names like Hypodermic Sally, a stay at American Horror Story’s  Hotel Cortez would probably earn the worst Trip Advisor rating of all time. But for these same reasons and many more, viewers can’t wait to check in.

Can you blame them? Look at this cast list: Finn Wittrock, Evan Peters, Cheyenne Jackson, Denis O’Hare, Chloe Sevigny, Matt Bomer, Wes Bentley, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, and Sarah Paulson have all returned for the fifth season of FX’s horror anthology franchise, joining Lady Gaga in an establishment that Bates’s hotel manager Iris describes as a building with “a heart as black as the ace of spades.” 

At some point, guest stars such as Naomi Campbell, Lily Rabe, Darren Criss and Max Greenfield also will drop by the Cortez. What’s unclear is whether they’ll leave the place alive.  American Horror Story: Hotel creators and executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk didn’t reveal much to reporters at a recent press conference, but here are  seven details that may stoke your excitement for the upcoming season – which could be the bloodiest yet.

The Basics: Who’s Checking In… and Who’s Checking Them Out?

American Horror Story: Hotel’s Cortez is owned by Gaga’s mysterious Countess, a gorgeous socialite who maintains her good looks with a steady diet of blood and sex. For the latter, she draws upon multiple sources, including her long-term lover Donovan (Bomer); a male model named Tristan (Wittrock); a film star named Ramona Royale (Bassett); and, Murphy told a group of reporters, a fashion designer named Will Drake (Jackson). Bates’s Iris is Donovan’s overbearing mother, and O’Hare plays the gender-bending Liz Taylor, who works in the Cortez’s Blue Parrot Lounge.

In keeping with one of the season’s main themes, addiction, Paulson portrays a living ragdoll of a woman known as Hypodermic Sally. Wes Bentley’s character, John Lowe, is a detective who visits the hotel as part of an investigation into a series of grisly murders perpetuated by the Ten Commandments Killer. In a move that would only make sense in a horror movie, John brings along his wife Alex (Sevigny) for the fun.

Goodbye New Girl’s Schmidt, Hello Gabriel the Junkie

The most surprising vision may come with Greenfield’s guest appearance. Murphy said the New Girl actor lost 30 pounds for the role and got his waist size down to a 27 by living on celery water. “He’s really committed to it,” Murphy said, adding, “Probably the most disturbing scene we’ve ever done, he is at the center of [it].”

Hotel’s Horrors, and Horror Tropes

Traveler tip: You probably shouldn’t ask for a bed equipped with Magic Fingers at the Cortez. That previously mentioned theme of addiction? It manifests as an entity known as the Addiction Demon, a monster that terrorizes its victims with, among other things, a metal dildo.

Another theme that Falchuk mentioned is that of insecurity, one of several commonalities Hotel shares with American Horror Story’s Murder House season.

“There is that feeling of, like, when you go home, wherever your bed is, wherever your safe space is, it’s the least safe place you can be in the entire world,” Falchuk recently told critics.

Haunted by the Past

As in previous seasons, Hotel presents part of its story in flashback, revealing Cortez’s history through the tale of its devious builder James March (Peters).  Murphy wanted to establish the hotel as a reflection of present day Los Angeles.

“Our hotel was built in 1930, and is sort of an art deco masterpiece that has fallen into ruin that once was where everybody in town went,” Murphy explained. “Then it felt out of favor… and now it’s sort of like a skid row, derelict sort of palace. It’s really also a rumination on, I feel, sort of the loss of culture in Los Angeles, but also about how Los Angeles is coming back.”

Murphy also based his fictional construct on familiar places. “I was always very obsessed with the Hotel Cecil that is right downtown [in Los Angeles], which is where the Night Stalker was rumored to have stayed, and where they had the video of the girl getting in the elevator” only to never be seen again, he said.

The executive producer added, “We do a very loving nod to the film The Shining in the first episode, that’s sort of a wink and a nod.”

Connections to Previous Seasons

American Horror Story’s fifth season is the first that follows the revelation that all of the seasons are connected. It also represents the first time that the series has returned to a city to tell a new tale. “So of course some characters who were in Murder House, it only makes sense that some of them would probably have had some relationship to this hotel,” Murphy teased.

Real-Life Characters   

In addition to announcing Rabe’s return as Aileen Wuornos in the two-part Halloween episode titled “Devil’s Night,” Murphy hinted that many more send-ups of real-life figures will pass through the Cortez this season. “The show has always played with that. I think it’s really fun,” he said. “The hotel is set in L.A., so we’re playing with a lot of historical L.A. figures, or people who have had some connection to L.A. come through. But I always love taking a real person a putting a spin on it, which is sort of what we’re doing with the Lily/Aileen thing.”

Less Music, More Murder

Oddly, though Hotel stars one of pop’s most celebrated divas, Murphy said there would not be any musical episodes or interludes along the lines of Stevie Nicks’s Coven cameo or Jessica Lange’s colorful numbers during season four. “Jessica loved [singing] so much that every season, she said, ‘I want to sing again, I want to sing again!’” Murphy explained. “I thought for the Freak Show season it made sense, and I wanted to do sort of a Baz Luhrmann thing with it. But I think we’ve done that, and we’re not going to do it again.”

Instead, Murphy plans to use Gaga’s monstrous appeal to delight and horrify – and we won’t have to wait long to witness just how ruthless the Countess can be. “Everybody who does the show has to start with something disturbing and awful right away.”

En español: Read this article in Spanish at

  • stellabystarlite

    So, who is basically the “anchor” of this season now that Jessica Lange is gone? Bassett? Bates? Gaga?

    • Trouble1968

      Tune in tonight!

    • Barbara Adrianna

      Must be Gaga :/

  • Elizabeth Anne Cooper

    I have really enjoyed this season. I dont think Gaga should be discounted just because she made her name in music first, or because J.Lange has taken off. The hotel is classic Art Deco, the storyline pushes the boundaries of comfort, and elements of movies past have been well blended together with new twists. Give it a chance, it really is impressive.

Tag Cloud

Amazon Prime Summer RT21 Super Bowl Rocky Action mission: impossible Shudder CBS historical drama Family Dark Horse Comics Pixar award winner cancelled TV shows Comics on TV indie robots Election Peacock Infographic YouTube Red Binge Guide Film GoT Funimation south america TruTV binge Endgame Freeform Nat Geo crime thriller transformers DC streaming service LGBT Hulu Comedy Central Ghostbusters miniseries 2015 politics video hispanic Pop FOX Emmy Nominations social media boxoffice Lifetime TCA Awards space Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Tarantino New York Comic Con Superheroe Sundance TV dark Thanksgiving Marvel Drama YA spain Nominations Paramount El Rey AMC DC Universe Opinion Mystery Food Network harry potter TIFF IFC Films Sundance Year in Review TCM worst doctor who Showtime TCA 2017 casting BET Awards BET NBC biography political drama Rocketman OneApp spinoff Music FXX children's TV Sci-Fi psychological thriller Pride Month Britbox Fall TV Marvel Television RT History Hear Us Out A&E comiccon sequel MCU Walt Disney Pictures Spectrum Originals Universal The Purge Winners BBC America Kids & Family quibi Trophy Talk dc canceled TV shows cinemax fast and furious First Reviews Women's History Month stoner blaxploitation 007 Acorn TV vampires cats jamie lee curtis sports NYCC classics composers SundanceTV comedies singing competition crossover Tomatazos spider-man talk show tv talk HBO Go 2018 obituary all-time reviews ABC Family 72 Emmy Awards USA Turner Classic Movies Vudu latino festivals crime Black History Month SDCC travel Song of Ice and Fire adventure Horror Syfy ghosts Rock Cosplay dragons Musicals DirecTV cancelled documentary President YouTube Premium Watching Series disaster Academy Awards emmy awards 71st Emmy Awards Disney Channel Shondaland Biopics crime drama Crackle Teen Toys movies Comedy X-Men video on demand Rom-Com comic teaser Black Mirror GIFs YouTube batman 2017 Masterpiece TCA SXSW cults Marvel Studios critics CBS All Access 24 frames superhero Extras cops Bravo Brie Larson spy thriller anime Country Musical Pirates TLC foreign Winter TV The Witch First Look Awards Tour Interview game show Disney streaming service Lifetime Christmas movies Reality Competition Apple TV Plus discovery Star Wars Holiday See It Skip It VH1 PlayStation animated Podcast Sony Pictures Amazon Chernobyl Christmas History HBO Ellie Kemper cartoon Emmys WGN romance Cannes Adult Swim Starz Best and Worst dramedy Avengers Tubi ratings nbcuniversal ABC zero dark thirty 2016 Hallmark documentaries hist kids DC Comics Certified Fresh Cartoon Network stand-up comedy TV renewals Amazon Studios Disney Plus Countdown period drama VOD CNN Captain marvel OWN Comic Book Anna Paquin TV Land PaleyFest strong female leads free movies zombies Tumblr sitcom cancelled television renewed TV shows Creative Arts Emmys Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt aliens romantic comedy ESPN Calendar Martial Arts Apple asian-american Valentine's Day Television Academy LGBTQ green book E! Mudbound breaking bad Film Festival universal monsters Superheroes Stephen King Oscars Esquire Holidays Nickelodeon screenings Pet Sematary scary movies adaptation Fox News directors parents zombie finale Western E3 Lucasfilm Classic Film Box Office films 20th Century Fox Quiz medical drama Sneak Peek Photos Crunchyroll National Geographic richard e. Grant Awards best Red Carpet APB child's play screen actors guild movie independent USA Network toy story 45 supernatural comics slashers Star Trek Amazon Prime Video halloween series theme song hollywood police drama TNT docudrama unscripted stop motion The Walking Dead Premiere Dates joker chucky Spike indiana jones sag awards news Elton John psycho MSNBC concert thriller dogs Baby Yoda Paramount Network GLAAD revenge TCA Winter 2020 Set visit Logo golden globes war nature die hard streaming DGA CW Seed cooking Warner Bros. CMT PBS Heroines Mary poppins TV FX on Hulu true crime twilight blockbuster name the review Grammys BAFTA game of thrones canceled christmas movies Television Critics Association facebook natural history Epix science fiction rotten movies we love Trailer Hallmark Christmas movies Discovery Channel 2020 satire BBC One Sundance Now IFC reboot Pop TV franchise HBO Max The CW based on movie Fantasy mutant 4/20 what to watch Mary Poppins Returns television Columbia Pictures witnail rotten Trivia Mindy Kaling WarnerMedia Netflix Schedule Animation Lionsgate elevated horror Reality ITV cars Spring TV Ovation book The Arrangement San Diego Comic-Con American Society of Cinematographers werewolf Arrowverse Disney FX criterion 2019 Video Games VICE Character Guide justice league Apple TV+ TBS MTV Polls and Games cancelled TV series serial killer A24 21st Century Fox a nightmare on elm street Turner technology Marathons laika spanish language Disney+ Disney Plus anthology versus dceu Netflix Christmas movies Travel Channel Writers Guild of America Mary Tyler Moore mockumentary BBC diversity