Fall is almost here, and you know what that means — “American Horror Story” is back.
Creator Ryan Murphy is taking the FX series back to the 1980s for its ninth season in “American Horror Story: 1984,” which premiered Wednesday night.
It has everything you could possibly expect from a 1980s iteration of the hit anthology series: Vintage hairdos, biting dialogue, tight clothing — and, duh, a murderous slasher set to ravage the staff at a summer camp outside of Los Angeles.
We start off in 1970, with several camp counselors about to have a threesome — until all three are quickly, bloodily murdered by a mysterious slasher figure. We pan out to see more bodies left in the slasher’s wake.
Fast-forward to 1984: Xavier (Cody Fern) is teaching a sexually charged aerobics class, with Montana (Billie Lourd), Ray (DeRon Horton), Chet (Gus Kenworthy) and Brooke (Emma Roberts) as his students.
“I’m not a les, just friendly,” Montana says to Brooke, introducing herself in the shower. Brooke is new in town.
The pair come upon Xavier talking about “The Night Stalker”: Authorities are convinced whoever it is is responsible for some unsolved murders in town. Eager to get out, Xavier invites them all to be camp counselors with him.
“You don’t wanna be in this town this summer; it could cost you your life,” Xavier says.
Back at her apartment, Brooke hardly gets to sleep soundly: Someone who claims to be The Night Stalker himself breaks in and goes after her jewelry. “You’re gonna die by the hand of The Night Stalker,” he says. Someone knocks on her door and says the cops are on their way, but it’s enough to get Brooke moving.
What happened at Camp Redwood?
On the way to camp, we learn Chet was disqualified from participating in the Olympic Games for Team USA in Los Angeles. (So now we see why Murphy cast former-Olympian-turned-actor Kenworthy.)
In classic horror fashion, a gas station attendant learns where they’re going and warns the group that they’re all gonna die. In more classic horror fashion, the gang run down a random hiker. He’s still alive, though he can’t remember his name. Xavier (who was driving) wants them all to agree they didn’t hit him.
The group arrives at camp, hiker in tow, and meets Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman). She explains she had a limited pool of employees to choose from in light of the Olympics. (Though given the camp’s history, it’s easy to see some other reasons.) Kids won’t arrive until the next day, and Margaret sends the hiker to the infirmary where Nurse Rita (Angelica Ross) tends to him.
Margaret explains boys and girls will bunk separately, and she isn’t interested in any sexual escapades.
“You expect us to be celibate all summer?” Chet asks.
“Well I’m not banning self-abuse, although every stroke soils your soul; but how could I ever enforce it?” Margaret replies. Activities director Trevor (Matthew Morrison) and Montana briefly go skinny-dipping during the episode, and something tells us it won’t take long for us to get more of the same.
Over a campfire, Nurse Rita tells the group about the events of 1970 and explains Redwood was the worst summer-camp massacre of all time, perpetrated by Vietnam vet “Mr. Jingles” Benjamin Richter (John Carroll Lynch). It turns out Margaret was almost one of his victims (she lost an ear!) but she survived after a religious epiphany. She bought the camp to reopen it and turn it into something brighter. Meanwhile, the hiker discovers his ear has been cut off …
Uh oh! Killer on the loose
This is a television show, so of course we learn Mr. Jingles has broken out of the hospital by (how else?) faking a suicide. He murders the gas station attendant. (We hardly knew ye.)
Back at camp, in a rage while watching the start of the Olympics, Chet throws a can at Ray and slices his hand. Brooke goes to get bandages, only to discover the hiker has been murdered, and she has to run from the at-large Mr. Jingles. When she gets back to the group and explains he’s back, they (of course!) can’t find him. The hiker’s body is missing by the time the group gets back to the infirmary, too.
Brooke later hears the pay phone ringing — the phones were supposedly down — and picks it up. The camera pans to The Night Stalker from earlier and the episode ends. Looks like he found Brooke after all.
“American Horror Story: 1984” airs Wednesdays (10 EDT/PDT) on FX.
In case you missed Ryan Murphy’s tease: ‘American Horror Story’: Ryan Murphy teases ’80s slasher scares in new season
Noted: Why TV like ‘Good Omens’ and ‘American Horror Story’ wants you to laugh at the apocalypse
See our full coverage of entertainment news