'American Horror Story: Coven' Premiere: Everything You Need To Know

Creator Ryan Murphy scares up familiar faces, gifted newbies and a trio of real-life horrors.

Break out your broomsticks, pretty girls: Scaremaster Ryan Murphy returns Wednesday night with the third installment of his creepy anthology, "American Horror Story," which centers around a school for witches—a season's he's subtitled "Coven." (Though we're sort of partial to Variety's suggestion: "Harriet Potter meets torture porn.")

After Rubber Man, Bloody Face and a ghost baby, what can fans expect from the FX freakshow? Keep reading to find out!

There Is A House In New Orleans...

The Big Easy serves as the backdrop for this season's action, which jumps between a present-day academy for spellcasters (yes, we've been told there's a Hogwarts joke in the premiere) and 19th century New Orleans, where a trio of real-life creeps wreak havoc on the city's polite society.

History Repeats Itself

Speaking of true stories... "AHS" is no stranger to borrowing truth from the past. You'll recall that the first season included an appearance by the Black Dahlia (otherwise known as murder victim Elizabeth Short). But "Coven" conjures up a trio of real-life New Orleanians, whose legacies still haunt the Bayou: There's voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, torture-enthusiast/socialite Marie Delphine LaLaurie (her former residence on Royal Street—once owned by Nicolas Cage—is considered one of the most haunted houses in America) and a serial-killer called the Axeman. Of course, "AHS" will twist these stories to fit narrative needs, but if you want to give yourself a fright before the episode even airs, peruse the Wikipedia entry for LaLaurie. Go ahead, we dare you.

The Ryan Murphy Gang

The series' fleeting 13-episode run allows Murphy to court a number of in-demand film and television stars, many of whom he's relied upon for multiple seasons. Return players include Taissa Farmiga, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson and MVP Jessica Lange.

For her part, Paulson was loathe to reveal too many details of the upcoming season when MTV News spoke to her recently, but she did let this tidbit slide when asked about how her characters have evolved: "Well, the first year, I was in so few episodes. It's hard for me to connect the two, but the second two I can probably connect a bit more for you, which is that there is a desire to be seen in both the women I'm playing, and you'll see at the end of this season the many meanings of what I just said."

Fresh Faces

Of course, there's plenty of new blood trickling in this season, as well. And what fine blood it is. Gabourey Sidibe, Emma Roberts, Patti LuPone, Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates have all signed on for a trip to New Orleans. In fact, Bates was reportedly recruited to the series by BFF Lange, who tempted her with a character "eight times worse" than her "Misery" villain. (That character would be the aforementioned LaLaurie.) Well done, Lange.

It Might Be Your Favorite Season Yet

One thing's for sure: "Coven" is Ryan Murphy's favorite season, according to Entertainment Weekly, and while there's no accounting for taste, it's probably a safe bet to trust the creator's opinion, no?

"American Horror Story: Coven" premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on FX.