The 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.