Regardless of the overall quality of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's twisted anthology series American Horror Story, there's no denying that the show has enjoyed some pretty powerful marketing. From well-cut trailers to short but effective teasers, the promotional materials have a talent for drawing people back in time and time again. After all, each new season is a fresh start.
The upcoming fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show, is set in a touring Florida freak show in the 1950s. Series regular Jessica Lange returns as Elsa Mars, the manager of the freak show, while Evan Peters is back as a "lobster boy" called Jimmy Darling, Emma Roberts plays a fortune teller called Maggie Esmerelda, Angela Bassett plays three-breasted woman Desiree Dupree, Sarah Paulson is conjoined twins Bette and Dot and Kathy Bates is a bearded lady (and Jimmy's mother), Ethel Darling.
To introduce these characters and more, a new set of promotional images for American Horror Story: Freak Show has now been released, continuing the style of the new series' main poster with retro style photos of each of the respective 'freaks' (or, in some cases, non-freaks) against curtained backdrops.
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One of the more intriguing posters is that of Wes Bentley as Edward Mordrake, the man with two faces. The character is based on the real life (though much embellished) story of Edward Mordake, a high-born 19th century Englishman who was born with a form of diprosopus and was said to have a second face - that of a beautiful girl - on the back of his head. According to the stories, Mordake was so tormented by his 'twin' that he eventually committed suicide. It will be interesting to see which version of this story ends up in American Horror Story.
One character not pictured above is the series' main villain, Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch). Although some of the teasers for American Horror Story: Freak Show, including the newly-released teaser below, have featured images of scary clowns, the appearance of Twisty himself is being held back for the moment. Speaking in an interview with Buzzfeed, Murphy wasted no time in talking up the scariness of the character.
"We said in the writer’s room that if we were going to do clowns, we were going to create the most terrifying clown of all time. That was our goal when we were writing him, but I’m worried about people being too afraid of our clown. It’s heart-stopping what he does. I’m worried. I’m worried that people are going to have cardiac arrests… The clown’s intro in the first episode is … even I was terrified of it. It’s brutal. Two crew members told me they have had nightmares about this clown since we started shooting and they’re not even scared of clowns. I think he’s pretty extraordinary because, when you see why he’s a clown and why he’s wearing the mask … just you wait."
Despite being stylistically impressive, American Horror Story hasn't really managed to be truly scary so far, and there's a danger of over-hyping a character like Twisty to the point that the actual reveal ends up being disappointing. That said, Murphy's description of the character certainly makes Twisty sound like a pretty intriguing villain, and hopefully the make-up department has something truly special lined up for his appearance.
American Horror Story: Freak Show premieres October 8th, 2014 @10pm ET on FX.