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American Horror Story's Main Titles Ranked

Ranking American Horror Story’s Title Sequences

I have a love/hate relationship with the ultra-stylized American Horror Story. On the one hand, it has legitimized horror and has helped bring the genre to the small screen. But, on the other hand, I’ve tried watching it a few times, and it hasn’t yet drawn me in. So, while I’m not a ravenous fan, I do appreciate its existence, and I dig its style. Especially, its title sequences.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I am a fan of title sequences. For years, I’ve been a Patreon supporter of Art of the Title—a site dedicated to the artform. (They do good work, and you should support them.) So, it will come as no surprise that I unabashedly love AHS main title sequence. Part of its draw is that it changes. It’s different each season. There are connections between each, most notably the amazing AHS theme music—the heavy notes remain constant as do the harsh buzzes that rasp as players get introduced. As a set, they’re remarkable, and a few stand out as truly great. Since it’s the month of Halloween, I figured it would be fun to rank the American Horror Story title sequences. Let’s start at the bottom.


7. Roanoke (Season 6)

Of course, this will be rated dead last. Roanoke had no title sequence. In her piece American Horror Story: 7 Seasons of Title Design for Art of the Title, Alexandra West asks AHS Executive Producer Alexis Martin Woodall and Title Designer Kyle Cooper why it was missing. (Go read the article. It’s good.) Their answer is interesting and valid, but since this is a list ranking sequences, Roanoke will remain an aberration and at the bottom of the list.


6. Hotel (Season 5)

Hotel lacks subtlety. It’s brash and over the top. It comes across as silly, and to me, it doesn’t set the mood the way other sequences do. The heavy-handed neon Ten Commandments do not help, although they are a neat visual juxtaposition. However, it’s the repeated thing-in-the-mattress motif that loses me. It’s creepy at first, but its impact falters after the third, fourth, or fifth flash. It’s not that it stops; it’s used at least nine times.


5. Cult (Season 7)

This year, AHS returned with Cult, and it doesn’t improve on Hotel’s failings. Americana interplays with odd and sometimes violent scenes that are common in the series. This, however, is less horror and more gore. Modern political instability is channeled and rightly so, and the classic AHS music mixes with a fife and drum sound that is reminiscent of national anthems. It’s a nice touch, which lifts it higher than Hotel.


4. Asylum (Season 2)

Building off the success of the first season, Asylum took the style from Murder House and turned it up a notch. It’s darker, it’s grittier, but it’s less nuanced. Some of the impact from Season 1 is lost, and it feels a little samey. Murder House works so well because it was unexpected. Especially for television. Horror isn’t about the “thing”; it’s the emotions and the anticipation, and I had anticipated Asylum’s title sequence well in advance.


3. Freakshow (Season 4)

The stop-motion stylization was a nice change of pace, and I think it sets the tone well for a series involving an evil circus. There is an evocation of a corrupted childhood at play here, toys behaving in a way that is unexpected which puts the viewer on edge. It’s was an excellent choice to move into a different direction, and it helped Freakshow stand out.


2. Murder House (Season 1)

The first opening title sequence for AHS channels a raw homemade style that works perfectly. I’ve never had high hopes for television horror, but this was a welcome surprise. Cesar Davila-Irizarry’s theme music stunned me and instantly became one of the most memorable themes. The visuals hint at the underlying concepts of the show without revealing too much, and it really nailed the mood.


1. Coven (Season 3)

Mood and tone abound in the season three opener: gritty black and white shots, strangely animated woodcuts, weird stop-motion, and the creepy hooded figures! (Which yes, totally remind me of the gargoyles from my Bell Forging Cycle.) A good story doesn’t ignore tropes. Instead, it bends them in new and exciting ways. You see that at play in Coven’s title sequences: all the expected visuals are there, but things are unusually bent. The quick cuts to uncomfortably close shots introduce story elements in a way that adds to the sequence: the revelations only help to enhance instead of detracting. I will admit that my design sensibilities lean in a similar direction, and there is a bit of bias. But to me, Coven is the gold standard, the perfected AHS title sequence.


It’s great to see a series play so much with the opening title sequence and elevate the art. I know that the fans appreciate it, as well. (The reactions to Roanoke’s missing sequence were…uh, vocal.) So! Now that I’ve finished my list, why not tell me what you think? How would you rank the AHS title sequences? What did I get wrong? What did I get right? The comments are open! Let me know!


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Now Available: New Bell Forging Cycle Goodies

I’m in the throes of editing Coal Belly, but that doesn’t mean I’m completely ignoring the Bell Forging Cycle. After hitting up some conventions earlier this year, it became apparent I needed some fresh stuff in my store. Since its October, the month of the Bell Forging Cycle, I figured now would be the perfect time to announce some new goodies! What do we have? Well, let’s take a look…


Bell Caravans HoodieBell Caravans Hoodie

I’m happy to offer an official unisex Bell Caravans Hoodie using the logo designed by illustrator Sean Cumiskey. The full logo is on the back, while the small wheel-and-bell symbol resides on the front. Perfect for those chilly fall mornings, caravan guard duty, upper-level weddings, or funerals.


Cedric’s Eatery Mugs

“An in-between place for in-between folks.”
I’ve had this idea for a while and figured it’d be fun. Now you can have a mug from Waldo Bell’s favorite diner. Perfect if you’re the type who “draws one in the dark” or maybe you prefer tea. Either way, drink up!


Bell Caravans Die-cut Stickers

I have loads of stickers already. But I wanted to make something a bit more substantial. When I set out to make stuff the goal isn’t to sell more books instead I want to expand the world of the series. I won’t make swag I wouldn’t use myself, and I’m delighted how well these turned out.


I’m excited to bring these new items to the store. I’ve been kicking around some other ideas as well. Have an idea? Let me know! I’m always happy to try new stuff. Is there a specific product you want? A feelie you think would fit the Bell Forging Universe? Hats? Teeshirts? Tote-bags? Leave a comment, let me know.

I’m On Horror Brew

Last week I was lucky enough to join Matt and Cat from Horror Brew, one of my favorite horror-themed podcasts for Episode Thirteen! (Yeah, creepy thirteen! Kismet right?) I had a great time and was happy to be apart of the show. We talked about my books and the world of the Bell Forging Cycle. After that we delve into the weird west and then talked about horror in general; everything from Stephen King’s The Mist to Netflix’s Hemlock Grove. Give it a listen. I’ve embedded it below, so you can listen here or click one of the links and be sure to subscribe!


iTunes • Stitcher • PlayerFM • Libsyn


You can follow Matt and Cat on Facebook, Twitter, Letterboxd, and Instagram. Make sure you subscribe and leave them a review. They put out a great show and are a passionate voice for the horror community. If you’re in the Portland area, check out their weekly horror trivia night at Home, A Bar. It’s a good crowd, and there are usually great prizes. Speaking of…

Horror Brew + K.M. Alexander Giveaway

From now until July 17th you can enter to win a signed copy of my first Lovecraftian urban fantasy novel, The Stars Were Right and a Bell Caravans patch. (I’ll probably throw in some other swag as well.) Entering is super easy, and there are ways you can win bonus entries to better your chances for success. All it takes is a few clicks, enter today and tell your friends!

Enter Today →

Lessons from the Shadows

Lessons from the Shadows

Recently, I was asked by fellow author H.M. Jones if I’d write a guest post for her blog. She and I both enjoy writing darker fantasy, and I wanted to stay centered around that theme. The result was Lessons from the Shadows. Here’s how the post starts:

“It wasn’t until college that I discovered H.P. Lovecraft, but I had been reading authors influenced by his work for years, Robert E. Howard, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. The dark, weird, and mysterious always enchanted me. I was drawn to the shadows; something there tapped into my core emotions and excited me. Lovecraft and I are very different. He speaks of the “fear of the unknown,” which inspired him; for me, it was not fear but a fascination. I’m not scared of “things beyond.” When I started writing, I found myself attracted to those concepts…”

Be sure to read the rest of the post over at H.M. Jones’ blog. I talk anticipation, character, worldbuilding, and more. It was satisfying to take a moment to ponder on what I had learned since starting this process. I hope you enjoy the post (and find it useful.) We also did a little interview which is at the end of the article, if you want to know more about my literary heroes and inspirations don’t miss it.

Also, make sure to check out H.M.’s work including her latest novel: Monochrome. (Which is currently sitting on my Kindle.) While you’re at it be sure to look into her other work as well: short stories, poetry, and graphic novels.

Final Day to get ebooks of Old Broken Road for only 99¢

LAST DAY – Old Broken Road eBooks only 99¢

AHHHHHH! Today is the LAST DAY to buy eBooks of Old Broken Road for only 99¢! (I’m also discounting The Stars Were Right as well.) Everything reverts to full price tomorrow, and it’ll probably be a while before we see another promotion. Links to purchase below.

Kindle • Kobo • Nook • iBooks • GooglePlay • DRM-Free ePub

Thank you to everyone who has already bought a copy, last week I had my biggest sales week to date and even made some pretty exclusive lists on Amazon. (Click the link and check it out.) I’m flattered that so many readers, new and old, are excited about The Bell Forging Cycle and are joining Wal and his compatriots in the hardscrabble world of the Territories. There’s more to come.

One last thing, if you have finished one of my books, please leave an honest review. Reviews help readers like yourself and allow me to continue offering promotions like this one. They’re important and I’d be grateful.

Chaos awaits...

Old Broken Road – 99¢

For the next week, I’m discounting eBooks of Old Broken Road down to only 99¢! If you need an escape from reality and have been wanting to travel down that old abandoned trail now is the time. Strange things are happenin’ on that road, so consider yourself warned. Links to purchase below.

Kindle • Kobo • Nook • iBooks • GooglePlay • DRM-Free ePub

Each of the books in the Bell Forging Cycle are standalone novels and can be enjoyed in any order. But, for those who are completionists, I’m also discounting The Stars Were Right, for this week as well. Prices are good through February 6th. Enjoy and don’t forget to leave a review when you’re finished!