The new monster of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story on FX has a history with the series as a terrifying villain. Welcome to Camp Redwood, circa the summer of 1984.
All the classic 1980s slasher films and dancercise craze is layered like the era’s feathered wings, contour, and blusher as we meet up with five friends with amazing highlights who escape Los Angeles to work as counselors at the camp.
The archetypes are there: The good girl, the not-so-good girl, the jock, the fabulous gay kid, the brain… all together at Redwood. And the slasher, the masked slasher that is, played by John Carroll Lynch.
Their stint as sassy sex-crazed kids will have a giant wrench thrown in it from Lynch playing Mr. Jingles. AHS fans remember him as Twisty the Clown from the AHS: Freak Show, set in 1952 in Jupiter, Florida. The clown of very few, if any, words and a penchant for killing everything in sight.
As these camp counselor kids adjust to their new jobs, they quickly learn that “the only thing scarier than campfire tales is the past coming to haunt you.” And psychos like Mr. Jingles who escape the mental asylum for the criminally insane.
John Carroll Lynch was cast as Mr. Jingles, aka Benjamin Richter.
Sharp-eyed fans remember John Carroll Lynch as the sweet Norm Gunderson married to Margie (Frances McDormand) who painted birds on stamps in the Coen Brothers’ film, Fargo. He also has serious comedy cred and was cast in the TV comedy The Drew Carey Show (1995-2005) as Drew’s cross-dressing brother, Steve.
Lynch returned to AHS last night in the premiere at Camp Redwood. His character, Benjamin Richter, was a Vietnam War vet who collected ears in battle and never quite got over the horrors of war.
In 1970, he slaughtered a cabin of teens. He was sent packing to the nearest criminally insane mental asylum, where he was under lock and key until his crafty escape in 1984.
He returns to the scene of the crime, but as time goes on, we will get a better understanding of why he has such a grudge with Camp Redwood and the owner.
American Horror Story: 1984 airs Wednesdays on FX.