Over the past fews months, details about Ryan Murphy’s latest installment of American Horror Story have been rolling out bit by anticipation-building bit. It was first confirmed that the ninth iteration would be called American Horror Story: 1984, and would likely be an homage to ’80s teen slasher films like Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Murphy also revealed that Emma Roberts and Gus Kenworthy would star, and then threw fans a curveball by announcing that Sarah Paulson, a beloved mainstay of the series, would not return for a major role. (Happily, this does not rule out cameos.) Then, earlier this week, Murphy made news by casting Pose‘s Angelica Ross in a series regular role, making her the first trans actor to secure two series regular roles.
Finally, on Thursday the show runner went for the big reveal: posting a first look at season nine on Instagram. In addition to Roberts, Kenworthy and Ross, we learned, the cast includes Cody Fern, Matthew Morrison, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, DeRon Horton, and Zach Villa. In the promo, set to the tune of Dan Hartman’s “I Can Dream About You,” the characters go from a very ’80s aerobics workout class screen test—complete with crop tops and spandex—to a creepy cabin. Grossman, Ross, and Morrison are serving up camp counselor realness, while Roberts, Kenworthy, Fern, Lourd, and Horton seem to be the campers. Villa rolls in, looking goth and scary, and though it’s unclear what his role may be, he doesn’t look much like the rest of the camp crew.
As much as AHS: 1984 draws from the slasher films of the era, this first promo for the series has us thinking Murphy might have taken some inspiration from Perfect, a 1985 movie about an aerobics instructor starring Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta. It also looks more Scream Queens (which starred Curtis, a scream queen herself) than American Horror Story, but there were actual aerobics horror films made in the ’80s, like the 1987 flop Aerobicide.
There’s a lot to unpack with this promo: Fern’s glam vanity looks, Lourd’s love for leopard print, Grossman’s grown-up nightgown moment, Morrison’s too-close-for-comfort gym shorts close-ups and dirtbag ‘stache. And this is just the first look—imagine where this season could go once they start releasing full episodes (or at least a full trailer) in September.