Special report: The age of horror

Horror is cinema's great equalizer. No one is safe. Whether a parable for troubled times or a scream-filled escape, film's masters of scare bring us tales that frighten us silly, explore the unspeakable and remind us that, unlike the unlucky souls onscreen, we are the ones still left alive. Though the form is often maligned, horror has never been more robust in ideas -- and popularity. With horror's highest-grossing film still in theaters, we take a look at the monsters we love to fear. For American horror stories are not only having a moment, they might, in fact, turn out to be the signature genre of the present moment.

Turning the scares on the actors of 'American Horror Story: Roanoke' in the haunted maze based on their show

Cast members of FX's "American Horror Story: Roanoke," from left, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman and Colton Haynes get spooked in the Universal Studios maze based on their TV show. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Cast members of FX's "American Horror Story: Roanoke," from left, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman and Colton Haynes get spooked in the Universal Studios maze based on their TV show. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

"THIS SEEMS LIKE AN ODD choice, to spend Rosh Hashanah here,” a smirking Billy Eichner said to his “American Horror Story: Cult” costar Leslie Grossman just outside a large, darkened tent as the sun set over Universal Studios recently.

The two of them, along with Billie Lourd, Colton Haynes and a number of other cast mates, were just beginning to settle down after a harried walk through American Horror Story: Roanoke, a new attraction dedicated to the sixth season of the show that’s part of the theme park’s annual Halloween Horror Nights.

“This is my first L.A. haunted house,” said Alison Pill, who plays Ivy, Sarah Paulson’s wife, in the current, seventh season, subtitled “Cult.” (Paulson, perhaps sensibly, was not on hand to experience her show’s scares in real life). “I was impressed. Production values, thumbs up,” she added as the cast gathered to laugh and compare notes after the roughly five minutes it took to complete the maze. “Leslie’s not OK at all.”

“Kathy Bates tried to take out my knee,” an incredulous Grossman began, referencing Bates’ Season 6 character, Agnes Mary Winstead (or “The Butcher”), who is portrayed by an actor in the maze and pops out from dead-end hallways and picture frames to swing a blade while accompanied by a shrill tone and flashing lights for maximum nerve-fraying impact.

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