You Won't Recognize Lea Michele In 'Scream Queens'

It's a good thing Glee just wrapped for good, because Ryan Murphy's got a lot of other balls in the air right now. There's American Horror Story: Hotel , starring Lady Gaga and Matt Bomer in the first Jessica Lange-less season; there's new anthology series American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.; and there's Scream Queens , the candy-colored horror-comedy show that feels like a collision between AHS and Glee. While not much has been revealed about Murphy's newest show other than a few short teasers, the creator has taken to Entertainment Weekly to give some dirt on Scream Queens ... including star Lea Michele's terrifying transformation.

Here's the skinny: Murphy developed Queens with his Glee co-creators Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk. On the strength of Murphy's brand name, FOX bypassed the traditional pilot stage and ordered the show straight to series last October, with a 15-episode first season to debut this coming September. Like the latter two seasons of AHS, Coven and Freak Show, the primary filming for Queens will take place in New Orleans. Season 1 of the show "revolves around a college campus which is rocked by a series of murders."

And now for a deep dive into everything we know about Scream Queens so far:

The Cast Is Killer

Emma Roberts stars as "Chanel, who’s the president of Kappa Sorority. She’s very funny and very ruthless." Famous scream queen Jaime Lee Curtis will appear as Cathy Munsch, "the dean of the school who has had it up to here with these b--ches in the sorority." Keke Palmer co-stars as Zayday, a "genius" who "doesn’t like sororities but she’s talked into joining the sorority so that she can run for president."

The supporting cast is an embarrassment of riches. Glee star Lea Michele as Hester (more on her later); Abigail Breslin and Ariana Grande as "Chanel's henchwomen"; Nick Jonas as a member of "a golfing fraternity called the Dollar Scholars"; Niecy Nash as "a private security guard who kicks major butt"; Diego Boneta as "a bookish but handsome guy"; and Oliver Hudson as "a hot dad." (Hudson replaced Joe Manganiello after the latter had to drop out due to conflicts with Magic Mike XXL.)

It's Influenced By Cult Classics

Murphy explained that he, Brennan, and Falchuk were inspired by the slasher films that were popular in the '80s and '90s. But while they looked to films like Massacre On Sorority Row for the "horror" half of their show's tone, the "comedy" half came from a 1989 cult classic: "It’s sort of the idea of what would happen if you put something like Heathers meets Friday the 13th." Here's hoping no chainsaws are used to do anything gently. (Didn't get the reference? Go watch Heathers, stat!)

It's About Vengeance

When asked to give a basic summary of the show, Murphy outlined a plot that could be straight from a horror movie:

It opens in a flashback to 1995 at the sorority where something horrible happens. It’s a mystery that goes unsolved. Flash forward 20 years to today, and it looks like someone is out for revenge. Something horrible happened to a pledge and on the anniversary of that crime, someone is out for vengeance.

The Killer Is Called The Red Devil

A Nightmare On Elm Street had Freddy. Friday The 13th had Jason. Scream Queens has the Red Devil. He's the mascot of Wallace University (the fictional college where the show takes place). "Somebody has stolen the Red Devil costume and that’s what he or she wears when they commit the crimes." And does the killer have a weapon of choice? "He or she uses everything."

Someone Will Die Every Week

The question on any horror fan's mind is likely something along the lines of: Just how much carnage will there actually be on this show? In a format reminiscent of CBS's terrific one-and-done slasher series Harper's Island, "every episode someone is going," Murphy claims. "It’s always somebody you least suspect or expect. The killer is on a reign of terror. It’s very much like Ten Little Indians" he says, referencing Agatha Christie's classic mystery novel (now published as And Then There Were None). "There’s a real tune-in factor because it’s like, Who’s going to be picked off this week?"

It's Scary, But Not Gory

If you're not a horror fan, then the question on your mind is likely something along the lines of, Just how gory will this show be? "It doesn’t have the gore of American Horror Story but it certainly still has the scares," Murphy said. More than the torture porn that modern horror has become, the show will be structured much more like a traditional whodunit. "It’s a real murder mystery," Murphy says. "In the very first episode you meet all the characters and then the killings start happening on this college campus. Every character in the piece has the motivation to be the killer. So when you’re watching it, part of the fun is, Okay who did it?"

It's Gonna Be Sexy

It's not all gonna be murder and mystery, either — this being a Ryan Murphy show, there will be plenty of time for a steamy makeout sesh or two between stabbings. "There’s countless love triangles and lots of sex." Well, duh! You don't cast Nick Jonas and his chest hair if you don't plan on utilizing them to their full potential.

It's An Anthology... Sort Of

While Scream Queens has been advertised as another AHS-like anthology series since its announcement, Murphy would like to clarify that a bit:

It’s different than Horror Story. Jamie Lee and I were talking about that in horror movies, particularly in that era, there was always the last girl, the final girl. So we’re playing with that. Whoever survives — and there will be people who will survive—they will go on next season to a new location and a new terror. Unlike Horror Story, which completely reboots, this has some of the continuity in that some of the characters and some of the relationships continue into a new world.

Lea Michele Is Unrecognizable

Is that you, Rachel Berry?? The former show choir diva has traded her reindeer sweaters for a neckbrace to play Hester, "a girl with scoliosis," and the cruel sorority girls simply nickname her "Neckbrace." Turns out all Hester wants is... everything. "This girl wants everything Chanel has and will do anything to get it." (Even kill?) "It's a real Eve Harrington part... Lea calls it her Charlize Theron Monster moment. We won’t let her put on any make up and she wears these horrible 1995 tracksuits." If you're shocked to see Michele so glammed down, don't worry: "There’s a great turn that happens half-way through the season with that character."

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