Tag Archives: horror

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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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 →

A Norwescon 39 Debriefing

A Norwescon 39 Debriefing

This past weekend I attended Norwescon 39 in SeaTac, Washington. This was my second year attending and like last year I had an outstanding time. As readers of my blog know with all my convention appearances, I like to do a debriefing wherein I recap the events, share photos, and talk about what I experienced during the con. (Check out my debriefing from last year.)

It was a wild weekend. I ran my table, sold a bunch of books, sat on six panels, and did a reading. Somewhere in there, I tried to get some sleep. Thankfully, unlike last year, I was not alone for the fours days; this time, I had assistance. My friend and fellow author, Steve Tontounghi came out on Friday and Saturday helped me out at my table and talked to people about his forthcoming novel, Join. And my wife Kari-Lise stepped up and pitched in Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was fun hanging out with them both. With their help, there weren’t any eleven-hours-on-my-feet days for me to deal with like last year. That alone made my time significantly more enjoyable.

Okay, let’s get to those highlights:

Books, Readings, Swag, and More

  • Once again, I sold a ton of books. Many were to new readers who seemed excited about stories set in a post-Lovecraftian world, and many were to my current readers who loved my books and wanted more. It was wonderful hearing directly from so many people and very encouraging.
  • I love when folks stop by and tell me how much they love my covers. I take a lot of time and effort to make sure they are something you’ll be proud of having on your bookshelf and knowing you notice means a lot.
  • This was the first year I handed out badge ribbons. I brought along three: Roader, Shambler, and Caravan Master (the rare one). I made a bet with my buddy Ace that he wouldn’t be able to collect all three. (I only allowed people to draw once.) He won. *grumble grumble* It was fun, and I think it might become a thing for everyone. Still trying to plot out how to make that work.
  • So many people came to my reading! As many of you know, I had the readers of this very blog choose what I read. As decided by the voters with 56.25% of the votes, I read the prologue from Red Litten World. People enjoyed it in all its grisly details. The next day quite a few attendees came to my table and bought a book because they liked what they heard. That made my con right there.

Friends & Fellow Authors


Oh, The Panels!NWC39_Set4

  • The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Battle Royale was easily the best panel I was on, I know I’m not alone in thinking this, here’s proof. It was hilarious, snarky, and a total blast. Big thanks to Matt Youngmark for putting it together and keeping things organized. The format was a bracket-style who-would-win-in-a-fight “discussion” in the end it came down to Rey from The Force Awakens and Marvel’s Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers. I was on team Rey in the final matchup, and sadly by popular vote, she lost. Maybe next year. #ReyWasRobbed. Agree? Feel different? Leave a comment and let me know why!
  • The horror track was really well put together. I was lucky enough to sit in on four different panels and had some incredible conversations about location, inspiration, and how horror is often a reflection of the time in which it is written. The first panel, expertly moderated by Logan Masterson, was about horror’s fantasy roots and stood out as the best of them, a lot of intelligent discussion.
  • The last panel I attended was ‘Level Up Your Self-Publishing Skills’ moderated by Elliot Kay. It was packed, and there was a lot of great questions from those in attendance. I wish it could have been more than an hour. There’s so much more all of us authors on that panel could have said, I wish we had more time. If you ever have a question about self/indie publishing you are always more than welcome to email me at hello@kmalexander.com. I’m happy to offer tips or advice where and when I can. As always, the best advice I can give is this: keep at it, write what you love, and never give up.

Cosplay & Norwesconners

  • Have I mentioned the incredible cosplay, yet? Well, as always it was fantastic, people put in a lot of time and effort, and it showed.
  • Tiny Rey was easily the most adorable cosplayer I saw. Let me go on record saying that I am so stoked to see another female character in Star Wars that young girls can emulate. Mad props to the writers for making that decision. It was needed.
  • Rorschach and I recreated out selfie photo from last year. Here was the photo from Norwescon 39 and the photo from last year, Norwescon 38. Kari-Lise pointed out that they are mirror images of each other. Not intentional and kind of funny.
  • I got a quest from an NPC. It was hilarious. That card is now pinned to my cork board above my desk. Someday I’ll find you drunken ghost.
  • I mentioned this last year, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s remarkable to see the diversity, openness, and acceptance between Norwesconners. The world outside of a convention can be mean. It’s nice to see a place where everyone is super considerate and goes out of their way to be encouraging and welcoming. Norwescon is unique like that.

Little Incidental Highlights

  • The Philip K. Dick Awards, I had a panel and was running a table, so I didn’t get to attend. But congratulations to Ramez Naam for his novel Apex winning the award. Also, congratulations to the special citation winner, Marguerite Reed for her novel Archangel.
  • Sunday’s cello accompaniment was lovely. Is this a regular thing? I remember there was music last year as well.
  • The green room staff, wonderful people there. They made the room a nice respite before and after panels.
  • The Norwescon staff were all really great. Thanks to everyone for making the event such a success. It’s a lot of hard work. Next time you see a volunteer, thank them.

It was a packed weekend, but so worth it. I’m already missing the whole buzz of the convention halls and the enthusiasm from my fellow attendees. There were a few times I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty details of writing horror and time just didn’t allow it. It would have been great to have sat in on a panel that was specific to cosmic horror/weird fiction and Lovecraftian mythos, but that might be too narrow for a general sci-fi/fantasy convention like Norwescon.

Sunday night Kari-Lise and I came home exhausted but feeling accomplished. Monday morning, I rolled right from convention mode back into work mode. No rest for the wicked. I’ll see you again Norwescon, until then, it’s back to writing. Time is wasting, and I have many more stories to tell.

Friday Link Pack 09/04/2015

Friday Link Pack — End of the Year Edition (2015)

Happy New Year! Well, we’re finally here, at the end of all things. Okay, not the end of all things, just the end of the Friday Link Pack. As I mentioned earlier in December, this will be the last Link Pack going forward. [Details Here.] We’ve reached number one-hundred, and it just so happens to be the official End of the Year Edition! [Previous years: 2014, 2013] In this, I compile the best-loved links I’ve shared over 2015 into one big post. As always, some of these I’ve mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Even though the Link Pack is ending on the blog I’ll still continue to share stuff I find interesting on Twitter.

All right, let’s see which links you liked the most:

My Most Popular Posts Of 2015:

Map of the Known Territories
The official map to the Bell Forging Cycle has been getting a bunch of interest ever since I shared it in August. The biggest version of the map was also one of the most clicked images on the entire site. Glad everyone likes it so much. [Attn: map contains some minor Old Broken Road spoilers.]

The 2015 Lovecraft-Inspired Gift Guide
Put together this post in early December and every loved it. (Big thanks to everyone over on r/Lovecraft and r/Cthulhu.) Gifts for the Lovecraft fan on your list, or of course, yourself. A whole slew of books, music, games, and a lot more. If you’re looking for a place to spend some of that Christmas cash, look no further.

Mad Max and the Art of Worldbuilding
I’m happy to see how much everyone enjoyed my look at worldbuilding from the viewpoint of one of my favorite movies of the year, Mad Max: Fury Road. I have another article in the works following this up.


Note: I also got a lot of traffic to my Mysterious Package posts. However after some emails and not wanting to spoil things for others I elected to remove them from my site. That is why they aren’t featured on today’s list.


Most Clicked Writing Links Of 2015:

What I Get Paid For My Novels: Or, Why I’m Not Quitting My Day Job
Novelist Kameron Hurley opens up and shares how much she has made on each of her books. It’s a fantastic post. Awesome to see transparency like this. I think this is good info for every author, indie or traditional, it helps set the record straight.

Cognition as Ideology: A Dialectic of SF Theory
In January, I shared this wonderful talk from China Miéville regarding the importance of fantasy in our modern society. I highly recommend it to anyone who reads or writes speculative fiction.

Why Horror Is Good For You (And Even Better For Your Kids)
Artist Greg Ruth gives us six fantastic reasons why we should all read horror. I’m really happy this was so well received, it’s still one of my favorite articles I shared this year.

Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing
I have long been a fan of writer’s personal lists of rules. It’s always good to glean what you can apply to your list (and yeah, we all have our personal list.) Neil Gaiman is no exception. (Note #5.)

10 Twenty-First Century Bestsellers People Tried to Ban (and Why)
The stories behind people trying to ban books are always fascinating to me. History has proven that when one tries to impose prohibition, the effect is usually opposite of the intent. What was it Mark Twain said? Oh yeah: “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits. Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky. It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.”


Most Clicked Art Links Of 2015:

Kari-Lise Alexander Paints Nordic Beauties In “A Lovelorn Theft”
Kari-Lise’s latest solo show opened at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco at the end of September, and a lot of folks were interested in seeing her work. In this post, High Fructose highlighted many of the pieces from that show. After watching the series develop throughout 2015, I was excited to see it in the wild. I’m sure you’ll agree this series is gorgeous.

Women Trying To Sleep Unsuccessfully In Western Art History
For hundreds of years,  women in art have been trying to take a break and catch some Zs. For whatever reason no one wants to let them. Art is weird.

Korean Artist Beautifully Illustrates What Real Love Looks Like
I loved these sweet little illustrations by Puuung, and so did you. Small touching moments rendered beautifully. Each tells its own story. [Thanks again to Stalara for sharing.]

I See Music Because I Have Synesthesia, So I Decided To Paint What I Hear
Painter Melissa McCracken is a synesthete. When she hears music it comes to her in a variety of colors. Instead of trying to describe what she sees she has decided to paint it instead. The results are fascinating.


Most Clicked Random Links of 2015:

20 Maps That Never Happened
From war plans for the invasion of Canada to the fifty states redrawn with equal populations, Vox explores twenty imaginary maps. You know, I’d be cool living in the state of Rainer.

Abandoned Indonesian Church Shaped Like a Massive Clucking Chicken
Some people do strange things to get messages from God; things like building a strangely shaped church in the middle of the jungle. Apparently the builder had intended it to look like a dove, but it’s clearly a chicken.

Arcology: Cutaways Of The Future City-Hives That Never Were
The futurist idea of arcologies is a mainstay of science fiction. I even play with the concept in the Bell Forging books. So when I saw this post from Cory Doctorow about Paolo Soleri’s 1969 book: Arcology: The City in the Image of Man. It was something I was very interested in. The book sounds fascinating, but the images… you need to see the images. [Thanks again to Steve for sharing this.]

I Won A $5,000 Magic: The Gathering Tournament On Shrooms
I’ve never done shrooms, but this article is hilarious regardless. As my friend Rob pointed out, this is the Magic: The Gathering version of James Blagden’s Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No. [Thanks to Rob for sharing this.]


Most Clicked Weird Wikipedia Link of 2015:

After watching the video, I’d wager it’s safe to say that this is probably one of the more creepy Weird Wikipedia links in 2015. Check out the article and make sure to turn the captions on, makes it that much more effective.

Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion
“The Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion was a television signal hijacking that occurred in Chicago, Illinois, United States on the evening of November 22, 1987. It is an example of what is known in the television business as broadcast signal intrusion. The intruder was successful in interrupting two broadcast television stations within the course of three hours. The hijackers were never identified.”

Make sure you watch the video as well:


Lovecraft Story Of The Year:

The Shadow over Innsmouth
Yay! My favorite Lovecraft story was also YOUR favorite. Happy to see this listed as the story of the year. It’s a good one. [Fun Fact: the Innsmouth folk served as the source of inspiration for the anur in my books.]


Animated GIF Of The Year:

I can't get enough GIFs of robot struggling to play soccer/football.

Three Great Horror Reads For Halloween

Three Great Horror Reads For Halloween

Since today is Halloween (or High Hallow as it’s known in the Territories), I thought it’d be fun to share some of the more memorable horror novels that I have read over the last few years. Since I have been reading horror since I was a kid, I figured it’d be best to limit myself to any of the books I have read during my participation in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. You can see my list for 2013 and 2014 here on my blog, and you can view my current list for 2015 over on Goodreads. Let’s get to my picks!


Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian: or the Evening Redness in the West
by Cormac McCarthy

I’ve talked about Cormac McCarthy’s novel a few times in the past, and over the last few years it has easily become one of my favorite books, and ultimately my favorite horror novel of all time. This story tends to get classified as a western, but after spending some time with the kid, and the mysterious Judge Holden it becomes apparent that there is much more to this narrative than a brutal western. Following the trail of several scalp hunters along the Mexican border, this novel is a disturbing tale of violence, blood, and possibly the devil.


Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburySomething Wicked This Way Comes
by Ray Bradbury

While the trope of the Circus of Fear can be traced back to the 1919 German silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, it’s safe to say it was Bradbury who made it popular with this novel. When Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Greentown, Illinois, two young boys and best friends begin to explore its strange and ultimately evil attractions. Bradbury is amazing at capturing the life of the young boy, and the challenges of fatherhood. Easily one of the best gothic horror novels ever written, and a classic within the genre.


Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

Chaplewood (Borden Dispatches #2)
by Cherie Priest

The second novel in Cherie Priest’s modern take on Lovecraftian mythos goes above and beyond even book one (which was one of my runners-up last year.) Following the adventures of the Lizzie Borden of legend, Chaplewood takes us from book one’s rain-soaked coast of New England to the heart of the sultry deep South. As a dark gospel is spread by a strange cult, and an ax murderer runs rampant, a detective, a young woman, and an elderly matron must face down a growing evil. Easily one of my most memorable reads this year.


So there are three of my favorite horror books from the last few years. If you’re looking for something to read on a cozy and dark autumn night, you’d be hard-pressed to find better. What are you favorite horror novels? Leave a comment below and let everyone know!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!