Review: 'The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City' edited by Jason Blum

The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City edited by Jason Blum
Doubleday (July 2015)
384 pages, e-book $5.99, hardcover $18.33, paperback $10.32, Audible $29.95
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington
 blumhouseThe Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City is a stunning anthology from some of the biggest names in horror film and literature.

First a bit about the editor. Jason Blum has worked as an executive producer for Bob and Harvey Weinstein. In 2000 he founded Blumhouse Productions, which specializes in micro-budget movies. For example, Paranormal Activity, which was produced for $15,000 and has earned nearly $200 million. Blum also produced Insidious, Sinister, The Purge, and the soon-to-be-released, The Gallows. I’d say he knows a thing or two about horror.
For The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City, Blum has gathered some of the biggest names in modern horror films and literature and given them two guidelines – let the story take place in a city and enjoy no other creative constraints whatsoever. The result is an impressive volume of some of the best horror I’ve read this year.The collection gets off to a helluva start with “Hellhole” by writer/director Christopher Denham. Sam and Martha Rathbone purchase a fixer-upper in Crown Heights, New York and move in with their six-year-old son, Max.

“Behind a wall of cobwebs and dusty canned goods, Max found a doll about his size. Its body made of sticks tied together with twine and its head was a burlap bag filled with twigs. It didn’t have hair and it didn’t have clothes. Nothing cute about it. Which was fine by Max. He hated cute toys.”
What follows is a beautifully written short with more horror than many full-length novels.Another story worth mentioning is “Golden Hour” by screenwriter Jeremy Slater, whose credits include The Lazarus Effect and the reboot of The Fantastic Four. This one left me wondering if the protagonist was really a monster hunter or just a paranoid schizophrenic; either way there’s some extreme monster stuff here.

The collection closes just as strong as it begins with “Procedure” from screenwriter/director/producer James DeMonaco, best known for his work on The Purge movies. New York City has a new serial killer on the loose:

“I refocus on the victim’s chest, which bears the same foot-long crudely stitched incision as the four others who were on this table recently. Infected, swollen, oozing multicolored pus and bile. It’s as if JD went in for a heart bypass at the world’s worst hospital, with the world’s most incompetent doc, had his skin scalpeled with a rusty steak knife, his breastbone rent asunder with a chain saw, and was then stitched back up by handicapped kids using Pixy Stix and a ball of yarn.”
The truth of what is happening in this story went far beyond my wildest expectations.Overall, this is a high quality anthology where every story hits the mark. My highest recommendation.

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