Review of How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

HowToSellA Haunted house

Welcome to the most modern book review on this list to date.  Published in January 2023, I pre-ordered this book many months before it was available. Silly me, I thought I could just click and read. “No Mr Cheely”, the Amazon Goddesses were telling me, “The hour has not yet come.”

I finished it sometime in March I believe. Since I had to wait to read it, then certainly it’s understandable that I waited before I wrote about it. Likewise, surely it’s excusable that I am making my readers wait for this review.  (yeah yeah, “Don’t call me Shirley, I get it.)

For the several months I waited, I wondered about this book.  I had seen the advertisements. I read the hype. But I don’t seem to recall receiving any clues as to just what in the heck this book was all about.

When confronted with a title like “How to Sell a Haunted House,” the human brain conjures several guesses as to the subject.. At least mine did. I think it’s a human brain that I have lodged somewhere in my cranium. At least I hope so anyway.  Here are a couple of speculations that ugly looking thing in my head had created. 

A book like this could be intended as a serious instructional manual. By this I mean it might be a non-fictional, real estate advice book targeting sellers that just aren’t able to fully cleanse their house before going on the market. Old fashioned elbow grease might be just the thing to scrub the walls, but no amount of work or chemical solution is able to rid the house of the ghostly remains of dear Aunt Ella and Uncle Seymour. Therefore, this book was written to teach readers how to list a haunted house, what to reveal to prospective customers and what not to disclose. It answers that aged-old question, “Are there any legal issues when selling a haunted house?”

Or, this book is a comedic fictional misadventure of some hopeful couple trying to sell while leaving their dear old bat of a mother-in-law behind. “Mrs. Realtor, if you are having an open house on the last Saturday of the month, please oh please do not show prospective buyers the wine cellar!  Dear old mom would get her social security check around that time, the amount was never enough, and she would drink in despair in the cellar. Being dead hasn’t stopped this ritual. She’ll throw empty bottles at anyone who enters.”  Or, “Don’t show them the upstairs bathroom. Mom is a prankster and she likes to jump up out of the toilet and say “Boo!”

As it turns out, Hendrix’s book does not resemble the two scenarios I presented to you. Nor is it about several other half-concocted synopses I had floating around in my head. It’s about creepy dolls that watch the living. It’s about sinister puppets that possess the living. It’s about taxidermied squirrels that break free from their frozen states to join the living.It’s also about imaginary creatures escaping from the prison of someone’s imagination and breaking into reality.

I didn’t see any of this coming. Well, actually I did. Not long before the publishing date, more of the plot was revealed and dolls were mentioned.  But in the beginning, I wouldn’t have guessed. I knew nothing. NOTHING!

I won’t give too much away about the plot. An estranged brother and sister are forced to reunite after the sudden, tragic death of their parents. They must put aside past differences to settle important, financial matters. To sell their parents house or not to sell, that is the question. This dilemma proves challenging as brother and sister can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on anything. It doesn’t help matters any that certain pieces of their mother’s doll and puppet collection start coming to life to screw with the living. 

Possessed dolls and puppets. That’s all scary and freaky and stuff, but can such abnormal antics meet the criteria for what makes up a haunted house story. I mean, the movie Child’s Play features a doll named “Chuckie” that likes to kill people. He does so, I believe, in a house. Or was it an apartment?  Who cares, the point is this question: “s Child’s Play a haunted house movie? No it is not. Neither would be the third story in Karen Black’s The Trilogy of Terror, a made for TV movie where an African fetish doll chases poor Karen Black around her apartment while trying to knife her to death.

Ahh, but How to Sell a Haunted House can be considered a haunted house novel. First of all, the author says it is in the title of his book. That helps the cause. How can the author be wrong?

Second, in true gothic fashion, there are family secrets and an unveiling mystery to lead the reader along. Third, there are rooms, an attic and garage, described in detail. Something is hidden in the yard. These places are destined to host disturbing situations. Finally, for those bent on the need for a haunted house story to have a ghost, this book accommodates, but maybe not in a way the reader expects. 

How to Sell a Haunted House is an intriguing book with several quirky characters to add flavor to the story. Kudos to author Gary Hendrix!  This is the second time I’m reviewing a book by this author. The other review was about his book Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction. 

I found him on Facebook and sent a friend request. But he must have been so overwhelmed at receiving such a request from me, that he is still stewing over it, fearful of making this connection. He needs time to emotionally prepare for this milestone.  I understand, Mr. Hendrix.  Take your time and I’ll continue to see you in the books!

Evil Dead Rise

EvildDeadPosterTo write or not to write, that was the question I asked myself in the theater over and over as the movie was running its course. When blood relentlessly poured into an elevator car, threatening to drown two victims, then I knew the answer. Supernatural events were occurring independently of the “deadites” (A franchise term for the demon-possessed folks). Therefore, Evil Dead Rise can qualify as a haunted house film.  I will explain in more detail as I “rise” to the occasion and write this review!

I saw this during the final stretch of the opening weekend. My Sunday evening (April 22) was filled with blood, gore and guts. How was yours?  If you have been following the film’s buzz, then you have probably already heard about it. It has been met with mostly positive reviews.

I enjoyed the film as well, but I can’t resist offering up some of what I will call “Old Man Dan Criticism”. By the way, I’m the “Old Man Dan;”  old not necessarily in years (I’m only fifty-two years young) but in tastes.

What are the critics saying?  I’ve taken the liberty to extract several adjectives from various reviews.  Some of these words might seem negative, but these adjectives have been taken from the positive reviews. Remember, the horror world can be backwards. Words sounding repulsive to a normal, clean-cut, model citizen are  in fact taken as compliments to a horror fan.

See for yourself:

Visceral , exhilarating, cathartic , unrelenting, gorefest (I think this was used as an adjective), eviscerating , merciless, jolting,  grisly, riveting , gruesome, manic, unhinged , gutsy, “effed-up”, disgusting, unpretentious, intense, horrifying, disturbing, twisted, sadistic

Aren’t those lovely, colorful words?  

Before we get to my words, let’s do a refresher on the Evil Dead Franchise. I know, you already know all there is to know about it. But that other person reading this article might not. So, let’s rewind.

Evil Dead Here at this Blog 

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this franchise. I dedicated quite bit of effort writing about Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn. It was a favorite of mine growing up.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the premise goes something like this: someone stumbles upon The Book of the Dead. Constructed in human flesh, written in blood, the book contains several passages that, when recited, invite flesh-possessing demons into our world. And you know what, they seem to always accept the invitation. I have yet to see an Evil Dead film where the unseen demons reply to the calling, “Not today, we’ve got laundry to do.”

The first film, Evil Dead, I praised for its low-budget appeal;  though amateurish in some respects, it came off as a noticeably passionate undertaking from a couple of filmmaker friends (Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell). The second I lauded for its mixture of horror and comedy, which was blended in such a unique way.

These reviews are part of a series I was doing on Haunted Cabins

Even though it is a book that is haunted and there is nothing intrinsically haunted about the cabin in which the horror plays out, I felt these two films were appropriate for this blog on haunted houses because:


  1.  Supernatural events occur in a self-contained environment (the cabin)
  2.  It meets my own criteria for “what is a haunted house”

                  There are other haunted house stories that focus mostly on the ghosts that haunt the house. The house is but their stage; a platform that enables these specters to show off their ghostly antics.  This “stage” can provide the perfect atmosphere for their performance if the lighting is gloomy enough, if the props and furnishings give the surroundings the right touch of “haunt”.

From Social Theory and The Haunted House

      3.  Wikipedia lists these films as part of the haunted house genre. Wikipedia is never wrong!

The third film, The Army of Darkness, I didn’t review. There is no house or cabin. Instead, franchise hero Ash Williams goes back in time to the Middle Ages to fight the undead.

The fourth film, Evil Dead 2013, is a remake of the original. More serious in tone, it is inferior to to its predecessors. I saw it but didn’t bother to review it.

Ash Vs. The Evil Dead is a series. Ash Williams is back, living in a trailer, and leading a life devoted to slaying the “deadites”. I’ve seen a few episodes. It’s an alright show but for some reason it just didn’t grab me.

Now in 2023, along comes another Evil Dead Rise. It doesn’t just come, it “rises”. Oooooo!

I would say this is a reimagining more than a remake.  The supernatural events take place in an apartment complex rather than a cabin. Therefore, the evil fun is extended to such spheres of eerie atmosphere as the hallways, elevator, and parking garage. The characters involve single mother Ellie who is raising three children. Two are teenagers, Danny and Bridget, and one is a young girl named Kassie. Their Auntie Beth comes to visit them. Danny discovers The Book of the Dead in a hidden vault within the apartment. It contains records that have the deadite-inducing passage. He plays the records and the evil spirits come. Teenagers! Always opening cans of worms.

The first one to turn into a deadite is Ellie. She turns into The Mommy from Hell!

This would have been a perfect film to include in my Haunted Apartment Series. Alas, I wrote this back when, and now is now so.. Well, that’s the way the building crumbles I guess!  Anyways, Evil Dead Rise meets my criteria as a haunted house film. The “haunting” occurs in a self-contained space. And, certain spooky things happen that go beyond a few possessed individuals. Lights flicker. The power goes out. Stereos power on and off on their own accord. And, as I mentioned in the beginning of the article, an elevator is overrun with blood.

My Thoughts on Evil Dead Rise

Okay, as promised, it’s my turn to spew words

I’m going to put on my old man skin now.  I do have other skins, mind you.  What the old man version of myself thinks may not necessarily reflect the views of the other skins. 

Okay, ready for some Old Man Dan bitching? Well, ready or not, here it comes – 

It’s too loud. It’s too fast. Slow down, deadite, slow down, ghoul!. I can’t even get a good look at you. Hey editor, can you let the camera do its thing before you cut to a new scene? Why is there so much loud music whenever there’s a scare? Let the objects on the screen do their job at frightening. Yes I jumped in my seat. Again and again. Too many jump scares crush my sitz bones. Gore and Splatter, Splatter and gore! And yet, here comes some more.I guess  more blood equals more horror and more horror equals better horror!  What is the cinematic horror world coming to? The film is over now, here comes the credits and ohh my head hurts. I’m exhausted and hyped up at the same time and, oh shit,  I have to go to work tomorrow. It sucks to be me! 

It’s true. I felt all those things I wrote above. In past reviews I’ve stated over and over how I like a patient camera, atmosphere over blast-o-sphere (blasting the audience with noise, blood, and jumps).  


This film is creepy as fuck! I like it that way. It’s more than just sensation-bombardment. Alyssa Sutherland  who plays Ellie,  a loving mother turned evil deadite, does an excellent job. Her facial expressions as a deadite are spot on. There are certain gory moments that are truly unexpected. They  caught me off guard and caused me to chuckle (nervously?) and exclaim “Holy shit!” And there were moments the film relied on tension rather than everything, everywhere all at once (oops, wrong movie).  Like when the kids and sister realize something is not quite right with Mommy Deadite but aren’t sure what is happening. She is quietly mumbling psychotic things as she fiddles around at the stove, frying up a dozen or so eggs, shells and all.

Then there’s the part where Mommy Deadite is locked out of the apartment but is able to slip into the vents. We, and the trapped apartment dwellers, hear the clang clang clang of someone or something making their way inside from somewhere behind the walls.  So it’s not all quick camera moves and screams and spatters.  Sometimes things “creep” along at a reasonable pace; as I said, creepy as fuck!

So, yes the film is saturated with “high-octane scares”, noise, jump scares and a hyperactive camera. But it puts all this together artfully if that makes any sense.

But is Evil Dead Rise as good as its predecessors?

Oh no. Un uh. No siree Bob. Sorry it just isn’t. 

Some other adjectives used by critics giving this film a positive review are “fun”, “comedic” and “Groovy!”

Yes, this film was fun. As fun as the ones that came before?  No.

Is this film comedic?  Sort of. not really.  Not in the way of Evil Dead 2 at least. If anything, at times, it tries to be like that. But, well, just no.

Is it groovy?  NO! That word is reserved for Bruce Campbell only. He uttered it. He is not in this film. He gets to keep it. Case closed.

And so closes this review.  Have a good day. Or Evening. Or Something.