When Ryan Murphy was a child, his grandmother forced him to watch the daytime horror soap "Dark Shadows."
"She would make me sit through it to toughen me up," he recalled. "And when I was bad, I had to watch `The Waltons.'"
Murphy, whose credits include "Nip/Tuck" and "Glee," is now the co-creator of an upcoming FX series, "American Horror Story."
The show centers on the Harmon family, which moves to Los Angeles from Boston in an attempt to start over after suffering domestic problems. But the house the Harmons move into is haunted.
"American Horror Story" isn't so much about horror as about marriage and infidelity, Murphy told reporters Saturday during a session of the Television Critics Association conference.
But series co-creator Brad Falchuk said both he and Murphy are obsessed with the horror genre.
The goal with their new series, Falchuk said, was to figure "how can we bust the genre up, while paying homage to all the films that we love so much." High on their list: "Don't Look Now," "The Shining" and "Jaws."
The series' cast includes Oscar-winner Jessica Lange in her first regular TV series role, and, as the Harmons, Dylan McDermott ("The Practice") and Connie Britton.
Britton, who recently ended her run as a high school football coach's wife on the much-acclaimed drama "Friday Night Lights," said she avoids horror films: They scare her too much.
"I recently did the remake of `A Nightmare on Elm Street' because I was going to face my fears," she confided. After shaking her head with dread, she sparked laughter from reporters when she said, "I should not be here."
On the other hand, she acknowledged that she was looking for a different project when "American Horror Story" came along.
"I thought this would definitely be, in every way, completely different from `Friday Night Lights,'" she said, adding, "For me, it transcends horror, the way `Friday Night Lights' transcended football."
"American Horror Story" premieres Oct. 5.