After tackling the end of the world, American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy is setting his sights lower for season 9 of his hit anthology series. American Horror Story: 1984 pays homage to the slasher films of the 80s.
Fans of the AHS franchise have high standards when it comes to Murphy scaring the bejesus out of them. So, before heading into the dark woods with a bunch of doomed, horny, and well-toned twentysomethings, it's time to rank American Horror Story's scariest moments.
10 Ivy Unmasked
On American Horror Story: Cult, the revelation Ally's (Sarah Paulson) seemingly loving spouse, Ivy (Alison Pill), is orchestrating her nervous breakdown makes the audience terrified for the phobic restauranteur.
AHS: Cult explores how a culture built on a foundation of fear creates killers, and Ivy is the ultimate Frankenstein's monster. Evil isn't easily identifiable or even a black and white description of those who perpetrate it. Murphy strips away the comforting notion the bad guys are easy to spot when, in reality, darkness can reside inside people we see every day; sometimes their real faces are more effective at hiding what's beneath than a mask.
9 The Murder Of Ma Petite
It would seem a given that Twisty the homicidal clown would earn a spot for his antics on American Horror Story: Freak Show, but those kinds of chills and thrills are a little too... pedestrian. Dell (Michael Chiklis) comes bearing a gift for Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge) as if he's apologizing for what he's about to do. Who can wrap their mind around the heinousness of this act; the strongest man, who can't reconcile his masculinity with his homosexuality, crushing the tiniest woman to death to protect his secret?
8 Bloody Face Tortures Lana
Serial killers, demons, condemnation of the Catholic church and organized religion, a Nazi scientist and aliens make choosing one frightening standout moment on American Horror Story: Asylum a difficult task.
But at the forefront is Dr. Oliver, "Bloody Face," Thredson (Zachary Quinto) and his mommy issues. A supposed beacon of hope among sadists and lunatics, Thredson is a calming force until he isn't. Easily disappointed in his surrogate mother, Lana (Sarah Paulson), he embraces his alter ego complete with a mask made of human skin, teeth, and hair.
Lana calms and coddles him as any good mother would, and Thredson suckles at her breast rooting for colostrum like a pig searching for truffles.
7 Shelley's Grim Fate
On American Horror Story: Asylum, Shelley (Chloë Sevigny) understands the power her sexuality yields but fails to recognize how a man like Arden (James Cromwell) can resent her for it. He steals her femininity, her freedom, and her humanity simply because she shames him for his impotence. Discovered by children at play, all that remains of Shelley is a wretched science experiment gone wrong
6 Cordelia Blinds Herself
There's a laundry list of twisted and disgusting things happening on American Horror Story: Coven, but it's Cordelia's simple act of self-sacrifice and mutilation that lingers in viewers' minds. Murphy appears to revel casting a spotlight on the most unimaginable atrocities. The popularity of the series' campy violence confirms a shared numbness among viewers when it comes to blood and gore. It's the simple act of a woman plucking out her eyeballs with pruning shears that elicits true fear.
5 The Introduction Of Rubber Man
Looking for a fresh start after infidelity and a miscarriage, the Harmon family moves into a gorgeous house filled with dirty secrets and a lot of dead people on American Horror Story: Murder House.
Amongst the belongings of previous owners is a latex suit—a glass slipper for just the right BDSM practitioner. The suit's original owner meets with an untimely demise. However, the disguise becomes a hand-me-down, and the recipient, known as Rubber Man, dons it as a means to disguise rape as consensual sex for his first onscreen act. Clad in black, he's a ghost, the Devil's vessel and the spiritual father of the Antichrist.
Rubber Man is an iconic part of AHS folklore, inextricably tied to season 1 as the most insidious villain among a cast of many.
4 Captured By Cannibals
On American Horror Story: Roanoke, the Butcher isn't the only thing to fear in the woods of North Carolina—there are also the neighbors. Any sense of relief Shelby (Sarah Paulson) and Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr.) feel after escaping an angry mob dissipates when they learn Mama Polk (Frances Conroy) and her kin treat a wide-awake Elias (Denis O'Hare) like an all you can eat buffet. For the Millers, it's out of the frying pan and right into the fire.
3 The Addiction Demon Claims A Victim
On American Horror Story: Hotel, the Hotel Cortez is a feast for the eyes, but the guests quickly learn the rooms come with more than fresh towels. A real adrenaline-pumping, stomach-churning moment occurs when the Addiction Demon sodomizes drug addict Gabriel (Max Greenfield) with a deadly sex toy. The creature appears to have emerged from the womb fully grown, yet not fully formed. As the Demon inflicts torture, Sally (Sarah Paulson) sits by as the light permanently fades from Gabriel's eyes.
2 Madame Delphine's Chamber Of Horrors
The opening sequence of American Horror Story: Coven, reveals the contents of Madame Delphine LaLaurie's (Kathy Bates) attic: cages containing mutilated slaves fill the cramped space. Some have been flayed while another's lips are sewn together concealing a mouth full of feces. They're forced to watch as Madame Delphine turns her houseman into her version of a Minotaur.
1 Tate's Shooting Spree
Murphy doesn't just rely on boogeymen and things that go bump in the night to frighten viewers. He reminds fans that the scariest things of all don't originate in people's imaginations, but exist in the real world. Viewers can dismiss ghosts, but nobody is immune to real-life stories like Columbine.
On American Horror Story: Murder House, Tate Langdon's (Evan Peters) classmates cower in the library as he executes them one by one. Murphy foretells a future of unchecked gun violence that would cease to be an anomaly. Murphy loves to explore the complexity of the concept of evil. The merciless Tate often portrayed as a victim is difficult to reconcile with the boy who hunts his classmates like prey.