Con Report: Housecore

            Fangoria would like to take this time to honor the memory of HOUSECORE HORROR FILM FEST co-founder Corey Mitchell, who tragically passed away shortly after the festival’s conclusion. Corey will always be remembered as an amazing author, a major proponent of the horror genre and, most of all, a genuinely kind and caring man. During the fest, Corey spoke briefly with Fangoria about the already evident success of HOUSECORE 2014 and cited the homecoming of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE as a truly surreal experience and one that he was profoundly proud to have helped facilitate; one of the many shining moments in his magnificent life. We offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family.

RIP Corey Mitchell

Combining horror movies and heavy metal may be a no-brainer like a dead zombie, but never has the nature of this relationship been more evident and able run rampant across a downtown plaza than it has at the HOUSECORE HORROR FILM FEST. For the uninitiated, HOUSECORE is the multimedia extravaganza fueled by none other than Phil Anselmo (yes, that Phil Anselmo). His passion for both genres is well evident and, individually, either faction could easily stand. But HOUSECORE operates best as the unholy Venn diagram that it was ordained to be; its whole is largely greater than the sum of its parts. With sights and sounds aplenty, here are some of HOUSECORE 2014’s many highlights.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, and the granddaddy of modern horror was the unofficial theme of the weekend. Cast members from the original masterpiece and its sequel were on hand, taking part in perhaps the biggest TCSM reunion in history. Fans swooned during a panel discussion, with questions and comments being hurled like Grandpa’s cattle hammer, which ranged from varying opinions on the worth the franchise reboot(s) to concerns about Terri Mcminn’s red shorts. The celebration culminated with a 1am screening in front of the festival’s outdoor stage. Leatherface’s visage looked right at home as it was projected and framed by the Austin skyline. The sound of his chainsaw was deafening (seriously, at times I had to cover my ears) and I have to imagine that the children living in the surrounding apartments will be stricken with night terrors for year and years to come.

Along side the classic fare stood this year’s indie filmmakers and their batch of exceptional submissions. Making waves in the ocean of new blood was Ryan Oliver and his gearheads-meet-ghostly-spirit-in-a-car thriller, RESTORATION. Ryan is no stranger to HOUSECORE and firmly believes in what they stand for: “They’re the genuine article and a breath of fresh air,” he says of HOUSECORE’s burgeoning tradition. “Without taking cues from any traditional festivals, they have their finger on the pulse of real horror and do things in a way that makes total sense. Corey Mitchell and Phil Anselmo are champions to all these independent filmmakers who are trying to sharpen their teeth; they may be looked over elsewhere. I’m most proud of being a two-time alumni. They have all my gratitude and respect.” RESTORATION proved to be a favorite and, ultimately, a winner of three Rot Scar Awards (Best Mid-Length Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director). “You have to do a Black Tooth Grin shot on stage when you accept your trophy,” says Ryan. “Corey Mitchell pulled me aside before the awards and said, ‘you’re getting drunk tonight.’” You can watch RESTORATION’s trailer here: http://vimeo.com/108528188

And if HOUSECORE’s new blood constitutes an ocean, much of it is certainly sanguinary run-off from Steven Biro’s AMERICAN GUINEA PIG. Tales of this FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD riff (which Biro also distributes through his UNEARTED FILMS company) spread quickly, resulting in an impromptu second screening and many more turned stomachs. Stephen’s involvement and the success of his film is something that he won’t soon forget: “HOUSCORE is one of those events that is new to the film fest circuit, but something that can grow into something bigger than itself,” says Stephen. “It was a great time and it meant the world to me, especially since they were showing 35mm prints of CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and other great horror films. We were up against the TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE full reunion, so I was worried, but we had double the turnout. I was a bit amazed. It’s a wonderful feather in my cap.” The AMERICAN GUINEA PIG trailer can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmE1RU-AFWo

On the music video front, Australian party grinders KING PARROT showcased DEAD END, their hilariously over-the-top ode to THE SHINING (Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO8dmG3vUbw). Their subsequent performance showcased plenty of man-ass and the gratuitous removal of guts – but these guts were more of the beer kind, not the innards kind. Detroit spazz-freakos CHILD BITE also joined the homage game with ANCESTRAL OOZE, a take on 80’s splatter-fest STREET TRASH (full disclosure: directed by yours truly. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz3mYeQ2fog

On the stage, Australia’s black metal spectacle PORTAL pummeled the crowd with blast beats, blazing guitar and singer The Curator’s rather Lovecraftian persona. And the one-man onslaught known as AUTHOR & PUNISHER dazzled with his bass heavy industrial sounds, hypnotized with pulsing visuals and awed with his self-made music machines akin to something out of TETSUO: THE IRON MAN.

But of course, you can’t celebrate horror and heavy metal without a jaw-dropping performance from the almighty GWAR. Their antics harken back to the Grand Guignol, replete with elaborate costumes, bodily fluids spraying from both wound and orifice alike and crack rocks the size of a small horse. The Scumdogs even managed to swing the carnage to the opposite side of the spectrum as they paid respect to their fallen leader Oderus Urungus. Dave Brockie will forever live in legend and the solemn tribute brought the crowd to a near hush, providing one of HOUSECORE’s most memorable moments.

But perhaps nothing could encapsulate the true purpose of HOUSECORE quite like THE MASTERS OF HORROR AND METAL panel. Icons from both worlds came together to discuss their respective mediums and the influences they shared with their fellow brethren. Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface) sat next to LAMB OF GOD’s Randy Blythe, who sat next to Bill Moseley (Chop Top). Caroline Williams (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2) listened as RIGOR MORTIS frontman Bruce Corbitt spoke of his band’s marathon practice sessions and VHS horror binges. MORBID ANGEL’s David Vincent voiced his disapproval of computer-generated gore and VOIVOD’s Michel Langevin spoke of his childhood fear of alien abduction and how it slowly morphed into his greatest muse. The experience was something of a sight to behold and the incarnate manifestation of a fanboy’s wet dream… Which actually sums up the entire HOUSECORE HORROR FILM FEST 2014 quite nicely.

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