• Route 7 Review

"Haunted Houses" by John Landis, Reviewed by Dr. Armstrong

This is the concluding piece reviewed by Dr. Armstrong, English Professor at Dixie State University. Haunted Houses by John Landis is sure to send tingles up the spine. Amazon rates it at 4.6 stars and Goodreads rates it at 3.7 stars.

P.S. Spoiler alert! Check out Dr. Armstrong’s book reviews as one complete piece in the next issue of Route 7 Review.

This beautifully presented, highly collectible anthology features ghost stories that have enthralled, terrified and inspired readers decade after decade. Some are relatively well known; others are long-lost treasures, awaiting rediscovery. The selection includes tales of terror by Bram Stoker, H. P. Lovecraft, and Percival Landon; studies of creeping dread by Edgar Allan Poe and Henry James; short, sharp shockers by Ambrose Bierce, M.R. James and Lafcadio Hearn; and comedic masterpieces by Oscar Wilde and Saki. Mr. Landis' own introduction explores each tale's fascinating impact on the contemporary horror genre. Step inside these ghost-ridden repositories of supernatural evil, if you dare... "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." H. P. Lovecraft

Of this novel, Dr. Armstrong praises John Landis:

John Landis is justly famous for his marvelous work as a director, with credits that include the action-comedy The Blues Brothers, the sensational An American Werewolf in London and the perpetually influential music video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” He’s also a judicious writer and editor, whose Monsters in the Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares ranks with Lotte Eisner’s The Haunted Screen as one of the must-have books for filmgoers who take horror seriously as a theme and as a mode of artistic expression. For his follow-up, Haunted Houses (DK, 2020, 408 pages, $24.99), Landis has compiled fifteen eerie stories set in spaces, as the title indicates, occupied by sinister spirits. He notes in his introduction to the collection, cleverly titled “There Are Some Doors that Should Never be Opened,” that stories about haunted houses appeal to readers because they destabilize our perceptions of what we think is real: “Ghost stories are a direct challenge to our modern, science-based lives. That’s what makes them so fascinating; our reasonable selves versus the unnatural, the supernatural, and the extraordinary. Ghost stories directly challenge our intellect, our sense of self and mostly… our fear of the unknown….. [R]ationality comes face to face with powerful supernatural events, born of uncanny forces.” Throughout Haunted Houses, unsurprisingly, appear several stories that served as the basis for great movies, including Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw,” which became, thanks to a perfect script from Truman Capote, The Innocents, the most unsettling psychological horror movie ever made. Spooky tales from well-known writers like Maupassant (“The Horla”), Lovecraft (“The Shunned House”) and Wilde (“The Canterville Ghost”) fill out this superb volume.


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Skimming the R7 archived issues is always an adventure. Somehow, the news seems to have the same, sad stories. The following poem by Chad Lutz was published in Issue 7 but still rings true today. ----