Wednesday, October 16, 2013

American Horror Story: Coven

Today guest blogger, Mia Gianotti Bard, talks about how she's hooked by American Horror Story: Coven after just a few episodes. She gives us enough information to get us caught up and tidbits about the real Madame Delphine LaLaurie. After you finish her post here, you might want to visit her blog, Target Addict, where she talks about deals at the store, Target.

I'm not your typical demographic for "American Horror Story". As someone who watches horror movies with one eye closed, it's a genre I usually avoid.  But I was drawn to season three - dubbed "Coven" - for both the historical significance and the geographic location.

First off, it's set in New Orleans - one of my favorite cities - and many scenes are actually shot on location there (unlike past seasons which were all shot on set). Second, the premiere episode opened with always-awesome Kathy Bates playing Madame Delphine LaLaurie, an actual historical figure. I visited LaLaurie's former residence in New Orleans and took the midnight tour. I didn't sleep that night.  

The episode opens in the year 1834, and Madame LaLaurie is shown hosting a dinner party for some high-society types in her lovely NOLA home. Keep in mind that New Orleans at this time period was a large and prosperous city, with a majority of white French speakers in addition to a large faction of African Americans - some free citizens, some slaves. We quickly establish that the Madame is trying to introduce her daughters to some wealthy prospective male suitors; her two older daughters seem to receptive to the idea, while the youngest one is a wiseass over the situation.

Flash forward to later that evening - after the dinner party is done - and Madame is shown in her boudoir brushing "restorative blood" on her face as some sort of gory facial ritual in the hope of "younger, firmer skin". This is the first sign Madame isn't of sane mind, and there are plenty more to come. Her husband bursts in to alert her that their youngest daughter (the wiseass) was caught in a "compromising position" with their house slave. The slave denies ever laying a hand on her, and sadly is merely a pawn in the bratty daughter's game to get under her mother's skin. Despite his protests that Miss Wiseass came on to him (and not the other way around) Mommy Dearest has her guards force the slave up to her attic of horrors, and that's where the story gets gruesome (and partially historically accurate).

We immediately see several imprisoned slaves, with evidence of unspeakable torture covering their scarred and mutilated faces and limbs. But for the poor slave soul who had the misfortune of being conned by her youngest daughter, Madame had a special punishment in mind. Talking to him as he was tied up, she explained how much she loved the Greek myths as a little girl, as they were filled with "wonderful miraculous creatures." Then from out of the shadows, she beckons a little slave boy to bring her a severed, hollowed out bull's head - complete with horns - which she placed on the man's head like a Halloween mask, turning him into a mythical minotaur.

The show then turned to their present-day storyline, which I won't elaborate on here. Let's just say that with the name "Coven", you can assume witchcraft and spells are involved. But later the episode returns to the 1830's, and we see a non-slave voodoo priestess (played by Angela Bassett) visit the Madame to offer her a love potion to recapture her husband's heart (as he seems to have a wandering eye for younger women). Now why the Madame - who seems like a smart cookie - would fall for some random woman peddling a magic elixir is unclear. But unbeknown to Madame, this particular gal happens to be betrothed to Minotaur-man... so of course, the potion is actually a poison, and Madame chokes to her death. Or does she? Like the real Madame LaLaurie, her fate is unclear; Delphine LaLaurie was believed to have died in France in 1842, but that fact has never been 100% substantiated.

To follow the continued (albeit partially fictionalized) adventures of Madame Delphine LaLaurie, watch "American Horror Story: Coven" on Wednesday nights on FX.

Jessica Lange is also in Coven


  1. This sounds cool and I am going to have to check it out. Also, I love Tarjay!

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