American Horror Story Murder House: The True Story That Inspired Season 1

American Horror Story: Murder House blends real events with supernatural occurence, taking inspiration from the most famous murder houses in America.

American Horror Story: Murder House presented audiences with a haunted house, violent murders, and vengeful ghosts, and the AHS Murder House true story took its inspiration from sordid tales from across the United States. A horror anthology, each AHS season is an encapsulated story that focuses on a different style of horror, combining elements from urban legends, slasher movies, and real-life murder cases to create a piece of terrifying Americana. Now spanning multiple seasons, it is a versatile show that combines creative themes with a star-studded cast.

Season one of American Horror Story, later dubbed Murder House, combined the prototypical haunted house set-up with the horrifying contemporary reality of school shootings. It is truly an American-based horror story. Juggling complex plot lines, classic horror elements, and some of the creepiest characters to hit the small screen, it is considered by many one of the show’s best seasons: simple in its set-up but textured in its delivery.

American Horror Story: Murder House True Story: The Murders

Evan Peters as Tate Langdon in American Horror Story

AHS season one, episode two, “Home Invasion,” begins with a flashback to 1968: a murderous lunatic stabs two nursing students to death. This AHS Murder House true story takes inspiration from a 1966 case in which Richard Speck broke into a student nurse dormitory in Chicago and murdered eight young women. Tate’s (Evan Peters) school shooting also has real-life ties. In episode five, “Halloween, Part 2”, a ghostly group of the murdered high schoolers ask Tate why he “targeted jocks”, a reference to the Columbine Massacre. Both Eric Harris, one of the real-life shooters, and Tate asked one of their victims if she believes in God before killing her.

Episode nine, “Spooky Little Girl” directly portrays one of the most famous L.A. murders to date: the Black Dahlia murder. Elizabeth Short (Mina Suvari) is murdered, bisected, mutilated, and disposed of to be discovered by a mother and her young daughter. Both in real life and in the show, Short’s body is initially mistaken as a store mannequin.

American Horror Story: Murder House True Story: The House

Murder House in American Horror Story

The AHS Murder House true story draws on several of the most famous murder houses in America. In the show, it is home to an evil doctor, the location of several murder-suicides, linking it to 2475 Glendower Place where in cardiologist Harold Perelson murdered his wife, Lillian, then attempted to kill his teenage daughter. Like Larry’s (Denis O’Hare) wife, the doctor then took his own life.

AHS: Murder House also takes inspiration from one of the most famous murder houses in United States history: the Amityville manor. Like in the show, the Amityville manor was a house steeped in evil. In 1974, it was the scene of a brutal murder by 23-year-old Ronald J. DeFeo Jr., who shot his parents and four siblings as they slept. Like the Harmons, the Lutz family was later able to buy the house cheap, but horror continued to plague the location. Unlike the Harmons, the Lutz family was able to leave after a mere 28 days. According to them, the house was infected by a supernatural evil.

The Franklin house, also owned by a doctor, completes the trifecta of lugubrious locations. In the 1940s, Dr. George Hodel used it as a den for wild drug-induced orgies. A violent man, Dr. Hodel was known for beating his sons badly. After he died, his son Steve discovered a picture of a brunette while going through his belongings that he became convinced was Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia.

Like many of the scariest horror movies, the tales of dread and violence portrayed within American Horror Story: Murder House does not end on the screen. Even the Rosenheim Mansion, the real-life location that served as the show’s “murder house”, is now supposedly haunted. Much of the series’ long-standing success comes from its ability to blend the supernatural and creative with the terrifyingly real.

Ryan Murphy Has Confirmed Richard Speck Is A Murder House Influence

American Horror Story: The True Story Behind Season 1's Nurse Killings

When it comes to the AHS Murder House true story, Ryan Murphy revealed some interesting information about his influences from Richard Speck. According to Murphy, the opening was influenced by Speck because the home invasion was the thing the writers were most afraid of. Speck was a mass murderer who killed eight student nurses in Chicago over one night. While sentenced to death for the murders, he ended up getting a life sentence and died in prison. “A little bit. Somewhat yes. Inspired by that a bit — the opening. But, more so, in the writer’s room, home invasion was by far the overwhelming thing we all collectively were most afraid of. So that was our first group effort” (via EW).

However, Murphy kept the influences to real-life horrors. Some people asked about influences from other movies and TV shows for American Horror Story: Murder House and Murphy shot that down, especially in the case of The Strangers. “I get that people would see that, but that’s not at all what we went for. The masks I believe were modeled after Mayan death masks that we found,” Murphy said. He also pointed out that his killers took off the masks after 30 seconds and in The Strangers, the masks were on them the entire time.

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