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The AHS Season That Features Shades Of A Tim Burton Classic

Fans of American Horror Story are familiar with the show's tendency to use real-life events to inspire characters and storylines. From the real-life mystery at Roanoke to AHS' portrayal of infamous serial killers, fans love to pick out the Easter eggs hidden in each season. Not only does the show often base itself on true events, but it also pays homage to popular movies. Fans have become used to the way Ryan Murphy wears his influences on his sleeve, but one season of AHS in particular has so many similarities to Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, that it's almost a spiritual sequel.

The first season of American Horror StoryMurder House is set in just that — a house that has a murderous reputation. When the Harmon family moves into the creepy but seemingly harmless Los Angeles mansion, things quickly turn frightening as we slowly realize the house is haunted by former inhabitants who died there. Murder House is thrilling in its own right, but the several nods to Burton's classic film make it that much more fun for fans of both to comb through.

The haunted house trope looms large

One of the biggest similarities between Murder House and Beetlejuice is both piece's reliance on the haunted house trope. When people die in or on the Murder House property, their spirits aren't able to leave except for one night a year: Halloween. We see what happens if they do try to leave when Violet Harmon (Taissa Farmiga) tries to run away from Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) before she realizes she's dead. She runs out of the house only to reappear through the back door, and does so several times in confusion.

In Beetlejuice, after Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam (Alec Baldwin) Maitland drown in their car after swerving off a bridge, they return home to find themselves confined there. They eventually learn that they'll be able to leave their home in 125 years, but in the meantime, they're stuck. The consequences of leaving are more dire in Beetlejuice. Rather than simply being re-routed back inside, escaped ghosts are transported to Saturn where they have to fight off giant, carnivorous sandworms

Echoes of the Deetzes in Murder House's cast

Many of the characters in Murder House are similar to the ones in Beetlejuice. In both, there's the troubled teenage daughter who eventually befriends the ghosts in the house. Murder House's Violet is depressed and quickly finds comfort in Tate (before realizing he's a ghost who did some pretty horrible things). On the other hand, Beetlejuice's Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder) is also a lonely and emotionally disturbed teen with an affinity for the macabre. Her famous line — "I myself am strange and unusual" — is a clear indicator of her dark personality, though she longs to be understood, just as Violet does. Lydia befriends Barbara and Adam, helps them to defeat Beetlejuice, and they all live happily ever after by the end.

Both pieces also feature Hollywood mediums who can connect with spirits. In Murder House, Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) is friends with the famous medium Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson), who she uses to get in touch with the dead. Billie Dean is self-possessed, much like Beetlejuice's medium Otho (Glenn Shaddix). Otho is not only able to talk to spirits, but he's also Delia Deetz's (Catherine O'Hara) opinionated interior decorator. Though Billie Dean and Otho are supporting characters, they each play a big part in their respective stories.

Both stories deal with ghosts trying to protect their turf

What's a haunted house without a proper haunting? Both Murder House and Beetlejuice have plenty of ghostly antics, though Murder House tends to be a lot more sinister. The end of Murder House most explicitly calls back to Beetlejuice in this regard. After succumbing to the house, the Harmons do some messed up stuff to scare the new homeowners away (for their own good). Beetlejuice fans will no doubt remember the Maitlands' less successful efforts of the same sort.

Rather than run away from the paranormal activity cooked up by the Maitlands, the Deetz family figures they can profit off the haunted house and turn it into a tourist destination. Though things don't go as planned, The Maitlands do find happiness by the end of the movie, after both families agree to live peacefully under the same roof.

Though Murder House and Beetlejuice have many things in common, they're each spooky in their own ways, and have both gained cult followings for their unique takes on the afterlife.