American Horror Story: Asylum (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 4 Old 10-15-2013, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2012
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 553 minutes
Genre: TV Drama/Horror

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe, Zachary Quinto, Lizzie Brochere, Chloe Sevigny, Joseph Fiennes, Dylan McDermott, Clea Duvall
Directed by: Various
Music by: James S. Levine
Written by: Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 8, 2013

"Get committed"

Film Synopsis:

Experience the chilling new incarnation of TV's most daringly provocative series. The sins of the past haunt the present at the notorious Briarcliff home for the criminally insane, ruled with an iron fist by Sister Jude. Forbidden desire and terrifying evil lurk around every corner…from alien abduction to demonic possession to a skin-wearing psychopath known as "Bloody Face."

My Take:

The second season of American Horror Story called American Horror Story Asylum follows the patients, doctors and nuns who occupy Briarcliff Mental Institution located near Boston Massachusetts in 1964, the timeline remains predominant but intercuts scenes from the present. Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) and Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) maintain the institution that was founded by Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) to treat and house the criminally insane. Psychiatrist Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) and scientist Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) treat the patients within the facility. The patients, many of whom claim to be unjustly institutionalized, bear witness and in some cases fall victim to the barbarism, evil and darkness that haunts Briar Cliff.

As the season unfolds, information is revealed about everyone's past, present, and personal lives which revolves around a central theme associated with a serial killer names Bloody Face. As with season one the characters are intertwined in a seething cauldron whose ingredients shape the events with sinister and sometime twisted plotlines. Season two’s subject matter touches upon topics such as false imprisonment, mental illness, demonic possession, interracial marriage, homosexuality, Nazism, and the Catholic Church. Many of these themes are integrated into the backdrop of the mid 1960’s perceptions. All the while there is a deep sense of foreboding that permeates the subtext as more and more details associated with the pasts of some and the futures of others are divulged. What we see as the defining common denominator is the depiction of the evil that lurks in the hearts of men and the summary of that reflection as the season draws to its conclusion.

I don’t want to divulge too much about the storyline and its superb subplots as it is best seen with no real knowledge of who, what, where, and when. We were instant fans after watching season one and season two ratchets it up a notch. The show does a marvelous job co-mingling the building storyline involving the variety of characters, and the events that transpire both inside and outside of Briarcliff. There is a no stone unturned, soup to nuts aspect to the show that literally leaves each episode hinging on the next.

There are twists, some we saw, some we didn’t and like last season the creepiness factor is well done. This is most definitely an adult show where elements of sexuality, gory violence, rape, torture/corporal punishment and other mature themes are explored. It features an excellent ensemble cast, headed by Jessica Lange , Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, James Cromwell, and Evan Peters as well as several guests that capably add to the dark intrigue. I love the idea that the show is a sort of anthology that uses the same core cast members and brings in season guest stars. The concept is very refreshing and show’s writing, directing and production elements are simply top shelf. Season Three entitled American Horror Story Coven aired on October 9th on FX and from the little we have seen looks like it has plenty in store for fans.

Season Two’s 13 episodes are spread over three BD-50 Blu-ray Discs that come housed in a standard amaray style case with slipcover that contains a flip type insert to hold the discs. Here is the list of season two’s episodes:
  1. Welcome to Briarcliff
  2. Tricks and treats
  3. Nor’easter
  4. I am Anne Frank part 1
  5. I am Anne Frank part 2
  6. The origins of monstrosity
  7. Dark cousin
  8. Unholy night
  9. The coat hanger
  10. The name game
  11. Spilt milk
  12. Continuum
  13. Madness ends

Parental Guide:

The show contains thematic material, sexual content, partial nudity, violence/disturbing images and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

American Horror Story: Asylum comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.

This 1.78:1 framed video presentation offers good high definition resolution that has a filmic texture that works very well with the show’s theme. Images are stable and relatively sharp with plenty of discernible texture and revealing fine detail during close-ups. Many of the show’s sequences are shot in uneven and low lighting. Grain tends to take on more prominence during these segments which sometimes left backgrounds appearing a little muddled. For the most part Shadow delineation and depth is quite good. Blacks have excellent dynamic range and contrast is slightly elevated but is never a detriment to fidelity. Colors are snappy and bright and sullen and muted where appropriate. Fleshtones appear descriptive with variable depth that brings out the finest gradations in the differing complexional types among the cast. Other than a little digital noise against a few dark backgrounds I didn’t notice any overt instances of video related artifacts.

The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue, robust dynamics and a subtle, yet enriching surround sound mix. I was pleased with its use of spatial dimension and directional cues to create an apropos and occasionally immersive sound field. This worked hand in hand with show’s music, and active sequences to build tension and drive its thematic elements. I thought it sounded quite good.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Deleted scenes

  • (HD) The orderly – 9 minute tour of Briarcliff (storyline/character summary)

  • (HD) What is American Horry Story Asylum? – 22 minute featurette

  • (HD) Welcome to Briarcliff Manor – 15 minute making of featurette

  • (HD) The creatures – 14 minute featurette

Final Thoughts:

American Horror Story: Asylum is a compelling, well written and envelope pushing TV Horror/Drama that works on a variety of levels. It successfully ties together a series of storylines that make for a chilling and riveting drama that we impatiently waited for with each installment. It makes its way to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox featuring excellent high definition video quality, rewarding lossless sound and a complimentary assortment of bonus supplements that looks behind the scenes while offering insights from the cast/crew. My wife and I are hooked and after watching the premiere of Season Three, American Horror Story: Coven we eagerly look forward to what’s in store. If you enjoy a spooky good time, check out American Horror Story on Blu-ray.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Ralph C. Potts
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post #2 of 4 Old 10-16-2013, 02:47 PM
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Never seen these but this sounds like spookey stuff for sure, will need to catch up for sure.

Thanks for th excellent review Ralph.

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post #3 of 4 Old 10-21-2013, 09:09 AM
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This is such a great show. Won't purchase the blu-ray, however, as when I cancelled all pay tv services, this was one of two shows I didn't want to give up, so I've been buying a season pass on iTunes so I can watch as the show unfolds.

I love my iPhone, but it will never replace my turntable.

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post #4 of 4 Old 10-22-2013, 01:51 AM
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Watched and enjoyed season one, but after seeing the first episode of the second season we could tell that the "let's go over the top because we can" bug had bitten the producers and we tuned out. Ah well...
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