Only three episodes into a season that spans 13, FX's American Horror Story: Asylum is already the year's wildest, most exciting free-for-all of small-screen genre entertainment. Series co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk clearly took the enthusiastic response to last year's inaugural American Horror Story  run and used the success to give themselves imaginative carte blanche.

Set in 1964 at the fictional Briarcliff Mental Institution, the current season—anchored by wonderfully unhinged performances from AHS returnees Jessica Lange and Lily Rabe and newcomers James Cromwell and Chloë Sevigny—isn't wasting any time. Viewers have already seen an exorcism, a deformed serial killer called Bloody Face, mutated woodland humanoids, aliens, dismemberment, and murderous nuns.

But, come on—American Horror Story: Asylum, as enjoyable as it may be, is never actually scary. Bonkers? Yes. Perversely exciting? Indeed. But terrifying? Not quite. Because nothing is as disturbing as the real thing, and, in the last 200 years, America has concealed enough serial killers and sadists to render 20 seasons' worth of American Horror Story-styled madness inconsequential.

Which is why we've combed through the most startling pages of our country's history books to compile The 25 Craziest Real-Life American Horror Stories. By the end, you'll laugh in the presence of Bloody Face and shed a tear for humanity.

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Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)