The months between seasons ofAmerican Horror Story are almost as exciting as the show itself, as fans sort through clues trying to deduce what the new installment is about. So far, there isn't a whole lot to go on beyond the new subtitle, Hotel, and the fact that AHS might undergo some big cast shakeups this year.
Horror Story cornerstone Jessica Lange has opted out of the anthology series, and Emma Roberts and Sarah Paulson are both currently filming other shows with creator Ryan Murphy (Fox's Scream Queens and FX's American Crime Story, respectively). There's a chance Roberts and Paulson will be finished in time to rejoin Horror Story, but nothing's been announced. In fact, the only confirmed cast members are Lady Gaga, Wes Bentley, Matt Bomer and Cheyenne Jackson.
FX President John Landgraf has said that AHS will undergo an "unusually large reinvention" this season - could a cast turnover be what he's referring to? He also stated that it's his "hope" that Hotel will be set in the present day, which would keep with Murphy's current pattern of alternating present-day seasons with various historical periods. But even if Hotel is set in the present, time means nothing to ghosts and Murphy often blends multiple time periods within seasons.
So what do we think AHS: Hotel is about? Read on to hear our top four theories:
1. H.H. Holmes' Murder Castle: As fans of Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City know, H.H. Holmes is one of America's most notorious serial killers. During the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Holmes opened a hotel only three miles away from the grounds, which he had designed and built specifically to conduct his killings. The three-story, block-long structure consisted of a labyrinth of more than 100 windowless rooms, some equipped with gas lines, allowing Holmes to asphyxiate victims. He also suffocated others in a soundproof bank vault located near his office. The Castle, as locals dubbed it, also included stairways to nowhere, doors that could only be opened from the outside, doors opening to brick walls and odd-angled hallways — making it nearly impossible for anyone to navigate other than Holmes.
When he was caught, Holmes confessed to 27 murders, but it's estimated that he killed more than 200. He selected most of his victims from his female employees, whom he forced to take out life insurance policies naming him as the beneficiary. He also killed his lovers and guests, many of whom he lured from the fair. Holmes disposed of the bodies by sending them through a secret chute to the basement, where some corpses were turned into skeleton models he could sell to schools.
2. The Garden of Allah: This might be the most popular theory for Hotel's setting, having been referenced twice on Freak Show. The first time, Elsa references the hotel when going through her scrapbook in the premiere. Then, in the penultimate episode, Stanley says his cousin works at the Garden of Allah.
The famous hotel was opened on Los Angeles' Sunset strip in 1927. It was originally built by actress Alla Nazimova, but when she needed money, she began renting out the villas. The Garden of Allah's famous residents include F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Marx brothers, Greta Garbo and Humphrey Bogart. It also inspired a movie of the same name starring Marlene Dietrich, who was a huge source of inspiration for Lange's Freak Show character Elsa Mars.
The only big hitch: The Garden of Allah was never known as a haunted hotel. However, if set in the present day, it's possible some of its more notorious guests could continue to haunt the property if some unfortunate soul decided to rebuild the hotel on the same grounds.
3. The Hotel del Coronado: This sprawling resort used to be home to Old Hollywood's elite, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Jimmy Stewart and even Marilyn Monroe while she filmed Some Like It Hot. But The Del also hosts the ghost of Kate Morgan, a woman who checked into a room in 1892 to wait for her brother, whom she said was going to treat her stomach cancer. However, after waiting for five days to no avail, Morgan killed herself and has allegedly haunted the property ever since. Only a few years later, actress Isadore Rush also died at The Del when she drowned at the hotel beach.
While The Del isn't exactly crawling with ghosts, it would provide a great opportunity for AHS to go full Old Hollywood glamour with flashbacks to the resort's glory days.
4. The Crescent Hotel: Located in Eureka Springs, Ark., The Crescent has a torrid history from which Murphy could mine. It was built in 1886 to be a resort for the rich and famous. However, it soon fell into disrepair and was reopened in 1908 as a college for young women. Business once again failed, and it reopened in 1930 as a junior college, only to close four years later. In 1937, the millionaire inventor and radio personality Norman G. Baker turned The Crescent into a hospital and resort, where he pushed his own "cures," which mainly consisted of drinking the property's natural spring water. He was eventually incarcerated for fraud and The Crescent was closed until 1946, when it was reopened as a hotel, only to burn down in 1967. Thirty years later, The Crescent was restored and renovated, where it remains operating under the title of "America's Most Haunted Hotel."
The spirits of the Crescent include at least eight ghosts, ranging from one of the college students who either jumped from the roof or was pushed, a hospital nurse, the ghost of one of its upper-crust guests, an Irish stonemason, a Victorian gentlemen, a cancer victim, a young boy and Baker himself.
What do you hope AHS: Hotel is about?