Madame Delphine LaLaurie’s Chamber of Horror
While many of American Horror Story’s creepy seasons were based on even creepier real-life people, none of these even come close in comparison to the disturbing character of Madame Delphine LaLaurie, played by Kathy Bates in American Horror Story’s Coven.
During the 1800s, Madame Delphine LaLaurie lived as a socialite in New Orleans and, while she may have seemed like a lovely, kind upstanding member of society towards others, the way she treated her slaves was another story completely. In her house lay her secret “Chamber of Horrors,” where she would repeatedly beat, torture and ultimately murder many of her slaves. When a fire broke out at her house in 1834, bystanders went into the house to make sure everyone was free from the flames.
What they found was far more than they had bargained for. Right before their eyes, a gruesome act of murder lay in front of them. Seven slaves were found mutilated, emaciated, whipped, and were bound from their extremities and even wore spiked collars. It is rumored that as many as 100 slaves died by LaLaurie’s brutal torture. The LaLaurie mansion is still standing today in New Orleans and is said to be haunted.
Elizabeth Short’s Permanent Smile
Elizabeth Short, who would soon become known as The Black Dahlia, was played by Mena Suvari in American Horror Story’s Murder House.
Elizabeth Short was a young actress looking for fame, but unfortunately for her, she only found it when she was brutally murdered. The killer chopped her body in half and permanently carved a crooked “smile” onto Short’s face. As gruesome as this murder was, the killer was never found.
The Murders Of The Axeman
Another one of Coven’s gruesome murders was known as The Axeman, for obvious reasons. Played by Danny Huston in AHS Coven, the real identity of The Axeman has gone unsolved for all these years. This brutal serial killer went on a spree in New Orleans between May of 1918 and October 1919.
The Axeman would sneak into the victims’ home through the back door and murder them with an ax that almost always belonged to the victim. The Axeman brutally killed at least six or seven people and suddenly, one day, the murders just stopped.
However, on March 13, 1919, newspapers published a letter supposedly written by The Axeman. The letter stated that a murder would take place 15 minutes past midnight on the night of March 19th, but any house playing jazz music would be spared. People filled dance halls and jazz music could be heard in hundreds of houses. Fortunately, no murder took place that night.
Twisty The (Terrifying) Clown
As if clowns weren’t creepy enough already, with their drawn on makeup and terrifying giggle, Twisty the Clown from American Horror Story’s Freak Show will definitely give you nightmares. While Twisty the Clown could stand on his own as being a terrifying creature, the fact that he is based on the infamous murderer, John Wayne Gacy makes him even scarier.
Gacy went by the name Pogo the Clown and would attend many children’s birthday parties and charity events. While at these parties, Gacy would lure teenage boys to his home where he would abuse and kill them. During the time between 1972 and 1978, he killed at least 33 boys with 26 of them being buried in a small crawl space inside his own home. His home became overpopulated with corpses and he resorted to dismembering his victims and discarding their bodies in a local river.
An Extraterrestrial Love Between Kit And Alma
Remember Asylum’s most popular couple, Kit and Alma Walker? Their love was been out of this world, just like their imaginations.
This couple was in fact based on a real-life couple who claimed they were momentarily abducted by aliens. Barney and Betty Hill claimed they saw a UFO on their way back from vacation in New Hampshire on September 19, 1961, at around 10:30 p.m.
They reported seeing a bright light shining down on the almost vacant road they were traveling on. As they got closer to the light, a pancake-like object appeared to be coming towards them. As the object appeared directly above their car, they said the car started to vibrate followed by a sense of tingling that shot through their bodies. The Hills claimed that is when they started to experience an altered state of consciousness. When they came out of this state, they realized they had traveled almost 40 miles without any recollection of it. Whether it was their wild imaginations or in fact a brief abduction by aliens, only they will ever know.
Mr. March And The Murder Castle
Mr. March, played by Evan Peters in American Horror Story’s season Hotel, is based on the acclaimed murderer H.H. Holmes. Holmes was known as America’s first serial killer.
In 1893, Holmes built a hotel in Chicago during the time when Chicago was hosting the World’s Fair. He set out to build his hotel with only one purpose in mind, murder. Known to murder people in his very own hotel, Holmes confessed to 27 murders, but the body count tied to Holmes and his hotel could be near as many as 200. As American Horror Story Hotel depicts, H.H. Holmes was a sly con-artist who used his “Murder Castle” to fulfill his deepest, darkest fantasies. And from now on, staying in a hotel will forever haunt our dreams.
The Milwaukee Cannibal
In the episode titled “Devil’s Night” in American Horror Story’s season of Hotel, we see a gathering of serial killers from all walks of life. Oh, what a dinner party to be a part of. Which one of them poisoned the food? Your guess is as good as ours. One of America’s most well-known serial killers makes his appearance at the dinner table on Devil’s Night.
Known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer would abuse, murder, and dismember his victims. As his name would suggest, what he did with the bodies after the murders were even worse. Between 1960 and 1994, Dahmer murdered seventeen boys and men. Actor Seth Gabel plays the infamous serial killer in “Devil’s Night,” where a child’s worst nightmare could come true.
The Sideshow Twins
American Horror Story Freak Show was a season about the carnival shows that used to populate the country, hosting such “freaks” as the Bearded Lady and creepy clowns. This season of American Horror Story also portrayed conjoined twins, Dot and Bette. Dot and Bette were likely based on a real-life set of conjoined twins, Violet and Daisy Hilton.
The twins were born in England in 1908 and shared a fused pelvis, joining at the hips and butt. Their sideshow career started at the young age of 3 where they toured across Britain known as “The United Twins.” They made their way to the United States in 1916 and, after the death of their mother, were managed by Meyer and Edith Meyers who would hold the girls captive and beat them if they did not do as they said.
“The Lobster Boy”
Jimmy Darling, played by Evan Peters in Freak Show, was actually based on a real-life person.
Yes, you read that right. Grady Stiles Jr. was born in 1937 with a deformity called ectrodactyly, in which his fingers and toes were fused together forming claw-like extremities. Known as “The Lobster Boy,” Stiles toured in many sideshows showing off his unique lobster-like claws. His life was terrible, filled with tragedy and addiction, and eventually ending in murder.
The Haunting Of The Nurses
There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned haunting to have you nervously looking around each corner and jumping at every noise you hear. Just watching the two nurses that haunt The Murder House gave us those same heebie-jeebies.
The brutal murder of these nurses was based on the mass murder of eight student nurses from South Chicago Community Hospital on July 14, 1966. Richard Speck broke into the nurses’ dormitory and proceeded to hold them hostage for hours. He then led them out of the room one by one, stabbed or strangled each of them to death, finally forcing himself on and strangling his last victim.
The Man With Two Faces
You may remember Edward Mordrake as the dark, creepy fellow who made an appearance for the Halloween episode of American Horror Story Freak Show. He and the evil face on the back of his head went out to kill the Freak Show cast one by one that Halloween night.
While this man wasn’t a killer in real life, there was a man that did in fact have a face on the back of his head (no, Voldemort, we’re not talking about you). In real life, the extra face on the back of his head was, in fact, a deformity that Mordrake suffered from. While the extra face couldn’t do tasks like speak or see, it was said that it would smile whenever Mordrake was happy and frown whenever he was sad. Mordrake begged doctors for years to have the face removed because he claimed the face would whisper things to him only demons would speak of. No doctor would take on such a challenge and Mordrake ended up committing suicide in his mid-20s.
Another one of Freak Show’s strange acts was Pepper. Pepper and her husband were both based on a real-life person named Schlitzie Surtees, who also went by the name Schlitzie the Pinhead during his sideshows.
During the 1900s, Schlitzie the Pinhead performed in many sideshows. Schlitzie was born with a rare disease called microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder that caused him to have a small brain and skull and a moderate to severe intellectual disability. It was said he had the brain capacity of a three-year-old. Schlitzie performed in many sideshows under titles such as, “The Last of the Aztecs”, “The Monkey Girl”, and “What Is It?” However, he is most famous for his role in the movie Freaks which came out in 1932.
Roanoke’s Killer Nurses
In Season 6 of American Horror Story, Roanoke, there were two nurses who opened an assisted living facility in the past. They weren’t really helping their patients though, they were killing them, initially to spell out “MURDER” with the initials of their names.
These “Lethal Lovers” were based on real-life murderers, Gwen Graham and Cathy Wood. They were finally caught after their evil game turned into an all-out killing spree and they turned against each other to try to get shorter prison sentences.
Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh, Jim Jones
Perhaps it’s obvious that in American Horror Story: Cult, there would be real-life cult leaders portrayed. In this season, Evan Peters steps it up by playing three of them in what appears to be found footage.
Marshall Applewhite was the leader of Heaven’s Gate, who are known for dying after consuming a mixture of phenobarbital and apple, along with spirits, while wearing all black. His cult attracted people from all walks of life and believed the apocalypse was coming.
David Koresh was the leader of The Branch Davidians, who believed in polygamy and was doing so with underage girls. In 1993, the Mounter Carmer Center Compound was raided, killing 76 people after a 51-day siege that ended disastrously.
Jim Jones founded The Peoples’ Temple, which popularized the term “drinking the Kool-Aid” for the mass suicide of 909 people he ordered in his Jonestown community.