With the introduction of Evan Peters' billionaire industrialist and hobby sadist James Patrick March in American Horror Story Season 5, fantasy and reality are getting blurred. If you're already scared, you won't want to find out about the real life model for Hotel Cortez's serial killer H.H. Holmes
American Horror Story Season 5 continues to warp the present while constructing the labrynthine history that enveloped Hotel Cortez with a heart as "black as the ace of spades" in Episode 2. The hotel's murderous foundations were fleshed out this week in the first real flight into the psyche of the founder and debonair sadist who makes Buffalo Bill look like a luch-money bully. But just as reality was stranger than fiction in the strange case of the real life Hotel Cortez, so too have we dug up the disturbing macabre on which Evan Peters based his charismatic killer, Mr. James Patrick March. Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, or H.H. Holmes, was the kind of twisted genius who could have excelled at anything he put his mind to. It just so happens he devoted his gifts to fraud, bigamy and a connoisseur's predilection for fine murder. In 1893, Holmes self-financed the construction of a hotel in Chicago on the back of false life insurance payouts and stock fraud. Subsequently known as The Murder Castle due to its imposing structure over surrounding buildings, the three-story, block-length hotel boasted perfectly fine and liveable rooms on its first floor, while upstairs doors led to brick walls, bedrooms were lined with iron and were only accessed from the cealing and rigged with gas lines where the cavalier Mr. Holmes watched his victims, mostly blonde girls, asphyxiate or be blowtorched to death in the extremities of human pain.
Just like in the fictional Hotel Cortez, Mr. Holmes would chute the dead to the basement where he buried them in lime pits or else meticulously stripped and prepared the bodies for resale to old med school friends for the edification of future generations of doctors. Evan Peters has admitted that, while Mr. March, who lived in the twenties (Holmes was hanged in 1896), is very much his own character, "there are definitely things derived from good old H. H." According to creator Ryan Murphy, Peters threw himself into the role when he learned he was playing a complex character of such perverse extremes. "I called him and I said, 'I want you to do something very different than you’ve ever done and I want you to be the villain.' And he jumped out of his skin with joy," Murphy told Entertainment Weekly. "He did a lot of research. That character is very educated and at the time that meant he probably had gone overseas so there’s a little bit of that in there. I’m proud of him. He really has done his homework with that." Peters has begun to occupy the Hotel so well that, as he told Variety, he's afraid Cortez and its various pasts might start occupying him. "I've done five seasons and this is starting to really get to me. It’s starting to get a little weird. I’m starting to see things a little differently. I think I’ve got to kind of step out for a minute and get back to reality because you become desensitized to it." What do you think about Mr. March's eerie connection to H.H. Holmes?