American Horror Stories is bringing a few scares to the summer TV slate. The FX show, premiering on July 15, is a spinoff of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series American Horror Story, which introduces a different terrifying theme each season. American Horror Stories will take a similar but truncated approach, focusing on a standalone story in each episode.
Though the original series is known for being campy and outlandish, if often draws from real life tragedy and terror. Throughout its nine seasons thus far, it’s made reference to the 1999 Columbine shooting (Season 1’s Murder House), accused murderer Lizzie Borden (Season 2’s Asylum), and serial killers including John Wayne Gacy (Season 4’s Freak Show) and H.H. Holmes (Season 5’s Hotel). The sixth season, Roanoke, was inspired by the disappearance of a colony at Roanoke Island in the 16th century, while Season 9’s 1984 centered around Richard Ramirez, the real serial killer known as the Night Stalker who terrorized California in the mid-’80s .
American Horror Stories seems to be taking a slightly difference approach, focusing less on real crimes and more on horror, myths, urban legends, and other lore, according to a tweet from creator Ryan Murphy. Among the imagery included in the trailer is a homicidal Santa Claus, teens with ouija boards, and a reference to Jay Anson’s famed 1977 novel The Amityville Horror (which is based on the true story of the Lutz family but includes a lot of paranormal elements).
American Horror Stories also connects to previous American Horror Story seasons, with the first episode taking place in the Murder House from Season 1. Rather than the Harmon family from the original show, it centers on Michael (American Horror Story alum Matt Bomer), his husband Troy (Gavin Creel), and their daughter Scarlett (Sierra McKormick). Upon unpacking her things in the house, Scarlett discovers the Rubber Man suit initially donned by Evan Peters’ character Tate and puts it on, eventually engaging in her own deadly exploits.
These allusions to past American Horror Story seasons are likely to continue: Murphy has teased that many of the 16 episodes will feature previous stars from the original series. It’s possible that in the process, American Horror Stories will retread some of the true events covered in American Horror Story, but there are certainly a breadth of horrifying myths and legends it can explore that haven’t been touch on American Horror Story and that would help to distinguish it from its predecessor. In any event, it’s certainly unfolding within the broader AHS universe — and will perhaps help to plant some seeds for American Horror Story’s upcoming 10th season Double Feature.