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

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