Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched the American Horror Stories entry "Drive In."
With its first pair of episodes, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's American Horror Story spinoff took viewers back to Murder House for a rubbery new chapter in the haunted home's history. With Episode 3, the franchise went to new locations, but with franchise vets John Carroll Lynch and Naomi Grossman. (As well as scream queen and Broadway great Adrienne Barbeau.) As the elusive perfectionist and appropriately named filmmaker Larry Bitterman, Lynch shined in the installment's final act, with his character's humble abode serving as a shrine to horror classics such as Evil Dead and Stephen King's IT.
After the metaphorical shit hit the fan and Larry was bleeding out on the floor of his burning trailer, one particular shot captured figurines for IT's Pennywise the Dancing Clown and Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees, with the Necronomicon lurking (as much as a book can) to the side. Beyond just being a cool bit of genre synergy, those specific characters are quite meaningful for John Carroll Lynch's legacy within the American Horror Story franchise, considering he portrayed the killer clown Twisty in Season 4's Freak Show and the camp killer Mr. Jingles in Season 9's 1984. When I spoke to the always engaging actor following the episode's debut via FX on Hulu, he had the most gracious response when I brought up Pennywise and Jason's connections to his characters. In his words:
By all means, John Carroll Lynch's Twisty the Clown quickly became one of the most iconic monsters, both visually and characteristically, in all of horror television, and all without a whole lot of screen time. And because Lynch's performance was almost entirely physical, given the character's facial malady, he managed to avoid just about any comparisons to Tim Curry's Pennywise from the 1990 IT miniseries. Not an easy feat. Especially in a world where playing horror-geared clowns is become more and more popular. According to Lynch:
While Mr. Jingles hasn't had quite the same pop culture impact as Twisty, the character is still a solid twist on the Jason Voorhees mythology, at least the early years. In the idea that even though Mr. Jingles was the only one anybody blamed for the massacres in 1984, the very first one was actually the fault of a female killer.
John Carroll Lynch's role as Larry Bitterman in American Horror Stories is the actor's fourth character within the franchise as a whole, with American Horror Story: Hotel's John Wayne Gacy as the until-now-unmentioned "character." And he's reportedly already returning for the halved-up Season 10, subtitled Double Feature. When I asked what goes through his mind when he agrees to take on another AHS role, he praised Ryan Murphy and the show's various cast and crew members, saying:
I'm in full agreement on that particular point, too. Because for all the opinions that one can have about Ryan Murphy's TV shows, there is one irrefutable fact: he employs actors whose performances are extremely authentic in a way that their over-the-top behavior would feel genuine in just about any scenario. Which is always good, since there is no end to batshit scenarios in the AHS-verse. And John Carroll Lynch shared his thoughts on why those performances make the show all the more enjoyable:
American Horror Story's first nine seasons are currently available to stream on Netflix, while new episodes of American Horror Stories stream on FX on Hulu (opens in new tab) every Thursday. Be sure to keep track of all the 2021 Fall TV shows while waiting for Season 10's Double Feature, too.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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