I’m the first to jump onto a classic Horror or Halloween theme for a party, or utilise zombies or the Mexican festival of Day of the Dead for your October 31st (Or November 1st and 2nd) celebrations. But fake spiders don’t scare people like they used to, and dressing as a classic witch in all black riding a broomstick has been done to death. Enter inspiration from one of the scariest TV Shows in circulation right now – Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. The opening credits alone will haunt you until your last breath, and set as an anthology through various haunted and terrifying venues and timeframes, you certainly have a lot to inspire you for your next Halloween decorations. Here are some ways you can inject a little bit of American Horror into Halloween.
1. American Horror Story: Murder House
The first season of American Horror Story left it’s mark on the world for it’s take on a modern day haunting that could easily be your own grand house next door. Focusing on modern day horrors of infidelity, depression and traumatic events such as school shootings, as well as supernatural horrors such as ghosts and murderers, this season would be one of the more easier themes to host as you can inspire regular hauntings for the theme of this party.
The perfect venue is of course a house, and by all standards injecting horror into the smaller details is what will set your party apart. The house itself is dilapidated and old, so by creating a feature wall that has plants growing up would be a great ohmage to the season. You can buy one of these partition walls, or a bamboo wall piece, from garden stores. Next, get twigs, a few green ivy-like leaves, and branches and tie them to the partition so it looks like nature is reclaiming itself. Place the feature behind a dessert table and bring thorny bushes or cactus plants in rustic jars and buckets to create a forgotten look.
Use red and fake black pleather looking items to tie everything together (who can forget the pregnancy scene with the ghoul in the pleather gimp outfit in the blood red room?) so think blood red tablecloths, napkins, everything! Add a few dominatrix style whips and chains and you will have a fun talking point as well!
2. American Horror Story: Asylum
Asylum scared the shit out of me, so much so I barely watched it. The opening inclusions of my greatest fear put a brake on the violent second season for me, but nonetheless this would probably be one of the best themes for your next Halloween party. Set in an insane asylum in 1964, this season focuses on sadistic psychiatrists and wardens, controlling and domineering nuns, and unjustly institutionalized patients who are subjected to supernatural influences that forces them to question their sanity and struggle to regain control of their lives. ie. the perfect Horror decorations for a party!
The idea is that your decorations should be cold and barren – think metal handcuffs scraping on metal bedheads. If you have the ability to set up a tile wall, dirty the tiles and you will have an instant feature! You buy heaps of insane asylum based props, including life size dolls wrapped in straight jackets, fake chains hanging from the ceiling, white doctors coats and jackets tied like a straight jacket, and you can even get signs that say asylum on them, just in case your guests don’t get it. Serve hyperbolic needles filled with blood red vodka shots or bags of IV drips with shooter in them.
3. American Horror Story: Coven
My favourite season of American Horror Story to date has to be the third season’s Coven. Focusing on a group of witches who are descendants from the Salem witch trials and now living in a New Orleans boarding home, they are thrown into dangerous events as they are used in a rivalry against the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, the fulfilment of the hidden agendas by the Reigning Supreme of the coven, and not to mention the general backstabbing and cattiness that befalls teenage girls with supernatural gifts, raging hormones and oppression of both modern day and archaic society.
The perfect venue for an American Horror Story: Coven themed party would be a house, based off the setting of this season with a manor. This is a great chance to be a little more sophisticated with your Halloween decorations. Get yourself some dip-dyed “heads” in the form of bulls, deer’s or anything with antlers and hang them up around the walls. Get some taxidermy like ducks in glass bell jars, alligator heads or squirrels and place them on tables around the house, and get fancy candelabras and chandeliers to hang up to add a bit more class. The more ornate the better.
Then, in one room, dedicate yourself to a voodoo temple worthy of a queen. Don’t use actual symbols of sigils (Did you even see that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?) but you can draw nonsensical patterns in chalk, decorate with feathers and fake shrunken heads, and dolls. Invite your guests around and let them discover this spooky room. Just remember, on Wednesdays we wear black.
4. American Horror Story: Freak Show
I almost didn’t watch this season because growing up I was afraid of the concept of a “freak show” but was always drawn to the idea of whimsy and fantasy that is the ideals of a circus. This season was gripping though and I am glad I watched it, as it follows a struggling travelling freak show in the 1950’s and the dangers that circulate when the small townsfolk look upon them as “monsters”. Following an even darker underbelly of the townsfolk themselves, leading lady Jessica Lange struggles to make her star shine the brightest no matter what, conniving con artists attempt to harvest the stars of the show for their own fame and fortune, a deranged and wealthy mama’s boy makes his own bloody mark on the world, and a simple and surprisingly soft children’s clown terrorises the town.
To create a Freak Show vibe you need to embrace the whimsical feel of a circus, but make it a little bit dirtier and a little bit worn. Use generic red and white striped decorations (such as the tablecloths and the plates) serve carny food and play carny games. To give it the Freak Show element you can make your own depictions of the freaks using a large piece of cardboard, some paint and your artistic skills. Hang them up everywhere like they were posters on your wall. Put “freaky” things like heads in jars on display, and get everyone to dress up as their own freak. It will be guaranteed to unleash some interesting nightmares!
5. American Horror Story: Hotel
American Horror Story’s fifth season has really only just started and is based on one of America’s most haunted hotels. Starring Lady Gaga, this would be a great chance to break out all the Lady Gaga styled outfits for Halloween – just maybe rethink the meat dress! There are heaps of ideas you can use to put together your own haunted hotel, such as setting up a spooky abandoned front counter utilising a bar, complete with cobweb crusted bell and a “visitors not welcome” sign. You can give out skeleton keys as guest favours or as access to other spookily decorated rooms, and an abandoned bell hop with bloody baggage on board would make an excellent feature in your hotel! An “elevator of blood” will give a very Shining feel to the hotel, and make sure cobwebs are a plenty here – no maid service today because the maid is dead!
While these are a generic idea of a haunted hotel, you can definitely make it American Horror-esque by utilising the same scary feel the credits give to the teaser trailer above. Terrifying!
So there you have it, some wonderfully scary and twisted themes for your next Halloween party based on everyone’s favourite terrifying TV show! I’m very tempted myself to have an American Horror Story: Coven themed Halloween party for next year – which season will you take inspiration from? Let me know in the comments below and upload your photos from Halloween as well. I am dying to see them!
Now try and get some sleep!