Blumhouse Productions has offered plentiful scares and engrossing stories on the big screen for years, but with today's release of The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City via their Blumhouse Books imprint, the company will bring infectious fear to the printed page. Daily Dead caught up with prolific producer Jason Blum to discuss the first Blumhouse Books release.

This book includes "Valdivia", a captivating short story by Eli Roth. What was his reaction when you asked him to be a part of this project?

Jason Blum: I just have a lot of admiration for Eli for a lot of different reasons, but I think Eli was one of the first people I asked, if not the first one. It wasn't even, "Let me talk to my lawyer. Let me talk to my agent. Let me think about it." He's just like, "That sounds awesome. I got a story. I can't wait. I'm in," which gives you hope in humanity.

I understand that In Cold Blood was a partial inspiration for you launching Blumhouse Books and getting this anthology started. Can you talk a little bit kind of where the idea came from to extend Blumhouse in this direction and to kick it off with this first anthology?

Jason Blum: I definitely think In Cold Blood's my favorite true crime book, which is where I'm sure that came from, but I love true crime. I read a lot of non-fiction crime. Where the idea for this came from is people always ask, "After Whiplash, do you want to do different kinds of movies?" And the answer to that is really "probably not." Every so often, if another Whiplash comes through our door, I won't say we won't do it. We did a western, In the Valley of Violence. We did Jem and the Holograms, but I really want to focus the company to remain on scary movies and scary TV shows, but if we were going to grow and do different things, I would like to do scary other stuff.

We did our haunted house for a few years. We actually continue to do that, we did it again for Insidious. We had a haunted experience around Insidious and one around The Purge. I'd like to play more with live event scary stuff and books were another natural extension of that. We actually have an imprint, so it's not just this one book, but hopefully, we'll do a series of books, and not anthologies by the way. I want to be a place where people like Eli, people who love horror and are passionate about it have a place to do whatever they want to do, whether they want to do a movie or a TV show, or write a book or whatever, that they have a place that they can do that, and then we can facilitate that. That was kind of the idea, and this was the first, hopefully, of many that we'll do.

Even though you have a lot of great films in your arsenal that you could draw from, the stories in The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City are all original. How important was it for you to include only unique content for this anthology?

Jason Blum: The first question everyone asked is, "Well, what about the TV and movie rights to the short story I'm writing?" My answer is, "I'm not doing this book to make TV shows and movies from these short stories, and you can keep those rights." It's just not like a back door in to getting ideas for TV shows and movies. You hold onto those rights, but I would encourage you to write a story that would be hard to make into a movie or a TV show. I really wanted the book to stand on its own.

The great thing about creative writing, obviously, is you can write that the world ends, and it doesn't cost any more than "she said hello in a living room." It's the same. There's no budget around it. I really didn't want this to get mixed up with movies and TV. I didn't want to use any of the IP that we already have. Also, on the new IP that these guys created, I really wanted them to think first of writing a great story and not think if there was a second life to any of it. Just to the point, we don't own any of the TV rights or movies rights to the stories in the book, and we have not had a single conversation about turning any of the stories into a movie or a TV show.

How did you come up with the idea to have the city theme for this anthology?

Jason Blum: That actually came from the publisher [Doubleday]. The publisher said that besides just being scary, it would be great to just give one thing for people to do. They munched around a bunch of ideas, and one of the ideas that they had was the city idea. What appealed to me about that idea is that's kind of very antithetical to horror because most horror takes place in suburbia or in the woods, obviously, because there are no people around. You see less scary stuff in an urban environment because urban environments aren't as scary because there's a lot of people. I really liked that. It really resonated with me, because I thought it might push people to think again in a different way than they ordinarily would, especially, again, thinking of a literary tradition as opposed to a film and TV tradition. I sparked to that, but it was actually their idea.

What made Doubleday the best fit for Blumhouse Books?

Jason Blum: Yeah, they were great partners, they were just really passionate about it. They were also very, very into the idea of an imprint and not just doing the single book. They were into the idea, and that's something that was really important to me. It was their passion for this, but also the idea of Blumhouse Books, that made us go with them. They've been great partners.

Is there a particular story that scares you the most out of those included in The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City?

Jason Blum: I have a different relationship to all of them and like them for different reasons. Ethan's story ["1987"], he had talked to me about for a long time, so it was fun to get him. He had kind of toyed around with writing it, but had never done anything with it, so it's fun to actually get him to finally publish it. He's a published author. He's written three books, so that was fun because I had known about the story before, but I really do think all the stories are unique and cool and original, and I really like all of them. If I had a favorite, I couldn't tell you anyway.

So far, The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City has been received very well by members of the horror writing community, including R.L. Stine. What has it been like to see it received that warmly within the horror community?

Jason Blum: It was really, really cool. One of my favorite things about being a horror fan and making horror TV shows and horror movies is that I feel like the community is really strong. People are very supportive of each other, and everyone's kind of rooting for each other more than normal Hollywood. Also, they're tough. I think when we mess up, no one's shy to saying, "Well, good try, but you missed," so it was really gratifying to have those people say this was cool. Hopefully, next time some of those people will do stories for us.

Are there currently any ideas for future Blumhouse Books projects or potential anthology themes you're looking to move forward with?

Jason Blum: No. I've thought of different things, like if you go back to the same group of people with a different theme or maybe you'd go to a new group of people with the same theme. I don't know. I would love to do it, but it was a lot of work doing this. It was more work than I anticipated, so we kind of focused on getting this right and hopefully good, and if it resonates with people, we'll do another one.


"Jason Blum invited an impressive group of authors, filmmakers, and screenwriters to envision a city of their choosing . . . and to let their demons run wild.

Taken together, the provocative stories in The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City create the unforgettable cityscape of a new world of horror. Disturbing, suspenseful, devious, and entertaining, each tale showcases an innovative voice featured in a definitive collection that could only come from Jason Blum."

Image via Blumhouse:

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.