With the highly anticipated premiere of American Horror Story: Hotel looming over us tonight, much has been made about what real life inspiration Ryan Murphy will draw from for this season. Turns out, a lot of it does have serious roots in real stories and events. This season will see Aileen Wuornos as a character and will take place in a hotel that is inspired by a real hotel of horrors in Los Angeles, California. It seems that Lady Gaga's character Countess Elizabeth, the glamorous owner of the fictional Hotel Cortez, is actually based heavily upon Elizabeth Bathory. So, who was Elizabeth Bathory? Well, she was the personification of evil, that's all.
I'll start out by saying that she currently (and hopefully always will) holds the Guinness World Record for "Most Prolific Serial Killer". So, that should really tell you all that you need to know about this countess. Lucky for you though, I am going to let you in on all of the grisly details surrounding her reign of terror and eventual imprisonment. Hold on to your hats (and your lunch) because things are about to get super murdery up in here. Don't you dare say I didn't warn you!
For this one, American Horror Story: Hotel has taken its inspiration from the 1600s. As far as I can tell, that's the farthest back they have ever pulled reference for a character. Coven pulled from some 1800s witchy business, but Hotel has them beat here by a couple of hundred years.
Elizabeth Bathory was a woman who eventually became a countess, in Transylvania (you can't make this sh*t up) in the 1600s. Her family included a number of high ranking officials, kings and other aristocrats of the time. This allowed her to maintain her sadomasochistic predilections for as long as she did. Powerful families can be a big help to a burgeoning serial murderess! Luckily, she also happen to wed a count who was happy to indulge his young bride in her love of torture and death. He built her a torture chamber specifically for her hobby in the castle that they shared together. Isn't love grand?
Elizabeth fancied young girls as her victims, mostly. The purer the better. Like Gaga's character this season on American Horror Story: Hotel, she believed that ingesting and bathing in the blood of her young virginal victims would keep her young and beautiful forever. Unfortunately for her victims, she didn't just kill them for their blood. She methodically tortured them for hours, sometimes days before (probably welcomed) death finally came. Methods of Elizabeth's torture were varied and merciless. She often drove pins through their lips and fingernails, poured water on them and left them in the snow, forced them to cook/eat their own flesh and tied them down, smeared with honey to allow insects to attack them slowly.
Elizabeth had a real good thing going for her for a long time. Years passed and she just quietly picked off her servant girls. When she ran out of those, she simply had her minions kidnap peasant girls from the town. Her ultimate downfall came when he started getting overly confident. Noblemen's daughters started disappearing and suddenly people took notice. Elizabeth and her fellow conspirators were finally put on trial in January 1611. They were all found guilty of upwards of 80 counts of murder and sentenced to execution. Alas, Elizabeth's fancy family helped her out one more time by keeping her from being executed. Luckily for the universe, it seems that her punishment was much worse. Elizabeth was sentenced to imprisonment in a room in her castle where there were only slits for air and food. She died in that room and with her death, the world said goodbye to a true monster.
To see if Lady Gaga lives up to the evil that inspired her character, check out American Horror Story: Hotel Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
Image: Suzanne Tenner/FX