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American Horror Story
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How Accurately Did “American Horror Story: 1984” Portray The Night Stalker?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Over the years, “American Horror Story” (AHS) has made some pretty interesting choices for each season. Interestingly, much of the show has been historically accurate throughout its different seasons. Every season comes with new surprises.

Recently, one of its plot lines has really caught my attention. It’s one of the series’ more laidback seasons. It is not as vulgar as previous seasons, but it is still very violent. The season, “1984,” is based at a summer camp in the 80s— around the time the well-known serial killer, the Night Stalker, started wreaking havoc. While there were some differences between the real-life events and the events depicted in the series, AHS did a very good job of portraying the story of the Night Stalker. 

The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, was known for killing at least 14 people and raping and torturing at least a dozen. He looked just like any regular person— decent looking— except for his teeth. Ramirez was known to have rotting teeth and bad hygiene. He was finally caught after he left town for a while and then returned.  The police were waiting for him, but Ramirez went through the back of the building without knowing.  Then he went to a liquor store and was recognized by bystanders. He went to trial and was on death row for 24 years. During his time in prison, he got married to one of his supporters, Doreen Lioy. Then, he eventually died of cancer, of all things— which is completely different from “1984.” 

The AHS Night Stalker is played by Zach Villa, a very attractive guy who looks similar to Richard Ramirez. Some say that he’s too glamorous in the show. One thing they did not touch on was his hygiene. There was no reference to him smelling bad, and his teeth were clean and healthy. He even had supporters that thought he was very good looking and liked him no matter what he did— or smelled like. He was also caught a little differently than the real Ramirez. “AHS” Ramirez was with Mr. Jingles, the made-up killer in the show, and he stops to get liquor. That’s when Mr. Jingles points out to bystanders that he was the guy in the newspaper, the Night Stalker.

When in custody, the trial started, but he escaped and went to Redwood before it was even halfway close to done. There was also no mention of him getting married to anyone. Although, there was a woman with red hair that came to visit. Still, it never said anything about marriage, or her being his wife. At the end of his life, the real Night Stalker died of an illness. In AHS, he dies multiple times, but he manages to be brought back to life at every turn, which was actually quite frustrating. Obviously, his story is different because they had to make it fit with the plotline of the show. Ultimately, there are a lot of similarities and true events put into the series.

The series used his real name, and it got his background pretty accurate. When he was younger, the real Night Stalker hit his head, and he started experiencing seizures. Not only that, but his cousin that was stationed in Vietnam would show him pictures of tortured and mutilated women, and he showed him how he could do anything he wanted to do to them. Then, at the age of 13, he saw the same cousin shoot and kill his own wife. AHS accurately depicted this in the show. It was like watching the Night Stalker documentary.  Richard Ramirez was a heavy drug user, and this was also depicted in the series. He was very into satanism, and he would make victims swear their love to Satan. There were also accurate details of how he was caught included in the show. He was recognized by residents, and then he was chased down and brutally beaten by the people in the neighborhood until the police came to apprehend him. While he was in jail, women came to visit him. These accurate details attract fans of true-crime stories and allow them to become even more invested in the plot of the show.

“American Horror Story” has always given its audience solid storylines that depict many real-life events, such as in the “Asylum” season, as well as the “Freak Show” season— where they show us what life is like for circus performers.  However, I think that “1984” is the most solid season yet.

Jade is a criminology major in her junior year! She's into many cultures and true crime stories. She loves to write on her free time. Hope you enjoy what she has to say!
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