‘American Horror Story’: Here’s All the Pop Culture References You Missed
American Horror Story has always used pop culture references to its advantage. American Horror Story: Double Feature is no different. While connecting most seasons, the hit series has also connected the show with the outside world. Whether it’s having characters react to an election or Evan Peters and Frances Conroy singing a duet of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’s “Islands in the Stream.”
Fans are already eagle-eyed and have noticed some weird things about the current season, but here are some pop culture references you may have missed.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from American Horror Story: Double Feature Part 1 and 2]
10. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Double Feature takes place in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which is no surprise considering the New England state has popped up before in the series. Harper’s Bazaar writes that in Murder House, the Harmons are from Boston, and in Coven, the Salem Witch trials are mentioned. Cape Cod is also a very paranormal site. There’s the “Bridgewater Triangle, an area in southeastern Massachusetts that has allegedly been the site of UFO, Big Foot, giant snake, and poltergeist sightings.”
9. ‘The Shining’
The connections to Stephen King’s novel, and later, Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining are startling. The Gardners travel to a mostly vacant Provincetown for the winter so Doris can decorate it and Harry can work on his screenplay. Initially, Harry has writer’s block and can’t concentrate (mostly because his daughter Alma is incessantly playing her violin). For a minute, we think Harry is going to type, “all work and no play makes Harry a dull boy.” Soon the demons (Evan Peters’s Austin and Frances Conroy’s Belle) get in his head and possess him in a way. Harry becomes like them, effectively alienating himself from his wife and daughter.
8. The Tony Costa murders
In Red Tide‘s first episode, we get a true-crime reference straight away. Touring the home, Harry mentions that he’s heard of some mysterious deaths happening in the area. A family of five was found dead in their beds. This is a reference to the area’s real-life serial killer, Antone Charles “Tony” Costa, who killed eight women in Truro, Massachusetts, in the late 1960s. He was referred to as the Cape Cod Vampire because he liked to bit chunks out of his victims.
7. The New England vampire panic
200 years after the Salem Witch Trials, New England was in a panic about vampires. There was a tuberculosis outbreak, but residents of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont thought that victims “fed” on their families. To fight the “vampires,” they burned the victim’s hearts and buried them face down. Sarah Paulson’s character Tuberculosis Karen is also a reference to this event.
6. The Cult-like grocery store sequence
When Harry takes a trip to the grocery store, he walks down an aisle in a scene that perfectly mirrors another scene in Cult, where Sarah Paulson’s character Ally walks down a similar-looking aisle before killer clowns attack her. In Harry’s scene, he’s greeted by Tuberculosis Karen, who spews profanities at him.
5. “Islands in the Stream”
Evan Peters’s Austin and Frances Conroy’s Belle sing a duet at The Muse, one of the biggest references in Double Feature. They sing Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ “Islands in the Stream,” and fans absolutely loved it. Not only is Peters’s singing voice great, but fans are currently obsessed with Dolly Parton right now. So it worked well.
4. The Prolific Writer
When Austin tries to convince Harry to take The Muse pills, he tells him who gave them to him. He says, “He writes for television. You know the name. Disgustingly prolific, silly rich, couldn’t write a thank-you note without somebody handing him a trophy of some kind. And I thought to myself, ‘How is he doing it?’ And all I knew was that he spent his winters here, and when he returned to the city he had a stack of material as long as my Johnson. He invited me out here one winter, and when I arrived he handed me one of those. Tragic magic little black pills. Within an hour, I was banging away at the keyboard like Amadeus at his harpsichord.” This is a meta moment because “the prolific writer” could very well be Ryan Murphy himself.
In Part 2, Macaulay Culkin’s character Mikey talks to Tuberculosis Karen about Jaws. Naming the shark Jaws, Mikey shares his fan theory about the film, saying he thinks Jaws is really the good guy, trying to avenge his shark relative that Brody and Quint killed, but that’s really Jaws 4 he’s talking about. Karen says she thinks a friend of hers might have been an extra on Jaws 2, Mickey says, “F— Jaws 2. They shot that s— in Florida.” The location references Jaws, which takes place on Amity Island, a town similar to Provincetown.
2. ‘Amityville Horror’
Just like The Shining and Jaws, there are a couple of references to The Amityville Horror as well. Upon seeing the house, Alma saying it looks haunted. Many think the real Amityville house is haunted as well. If you look closely, the exterior of Belle’s house looks a bit like the infamous house, which is also on the coast near New England. Plus, there’s the connection to killing one’s family, which Ronald Joseph DeFeo Jr. did in the film and real life.
1. “Change (In the House of Flies)”
Playing Deftones’ “Change (In the House of Flies)” is a small reference but no less important. The song plays when Harry goes to see Billie Lourd’s Lark. The opening lines are “I watched you change. Into a fly,” and allude to Harry’s recent change into a bloodsucker. Another connection could be made to another film that uses the song Queen of the Damned, an adaptation of Anne Rice’s vampire novel of the same name. The song plays when Lestat feeds off the vampire queen Akasha, allowing him to walk in the sun.
So far, American Horror Story: Double Feature has given us some great pop culture references. We can’t wait to see how many more there are.