Horror Film Fest Returns to Austin

When it comes to heavy metal and horror movies, there are few as well versed as Phil Anselmo. His many years fronting the likes of Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual and many others has been the fuel that feeds the proverbial hellfire of his encyclopedic knowledge of all things loud, abrasive, bloody and terrifying. To celebrate these obsessions, he co-founded the Housecore Horror Film Festival, an unparalleled extravaganza dedicated to all forms of Hollywood’s bastard offspring. With its second installment set to wreak havoc upon Austin, Texas from October 23-26, Phil wants nothing more than to use the Housecore Horror Film Festival to share his compulsions from the grandest of stages – and he wants everyone to join him.

Phil’s status may be elevated to that of rock ‘n’ roll royalty, but when it comes to our beloved genre, he’s as much a diehard fan as any other. His roots resonate back to his youth, and his horror origins strike a resemblance similar to the many raised in the golden age of television terror. “Honestly, I think it was something put into place at a young age,” says Phil. “I was raised in a house where the horror film was very popular. My mother was fan. My aunt was a fan. On Fridays there was always some sort of horror flick on, and then Saturday afternoon there was the Creature Feature. On Saturday night there was a horror host who would show everything ranging from Attack of the Crab Monsters to Attack of the Mushroom People. Then there was the Sunday morning movie, which was usually the best one. I had this full weekend of horror that was just a blitzkrieg, and there’s no turning back now.”

His upbringing certainly carried over into adulthood, and what started as a weekend affair spun wildly out of control. Tales of his ever-expanding horror collection have become the stuff of legend amongst fans and would become the catalyst for the Housecore Fest. “It was an idea presented to me by a cat named Corey Mitchell,” says Phil. “The first time he came to my house and looked at all my posters and I showed him my VHS library, he was kind of blown away. He said, ‘you should throw your own horror fest. And you could even have bands play.’” That simple conversation was all it took and the basis for the groundwork had been established, or as Phil puts it: “Corey just took the idea and ran with, man.”

With the undercurrent of home remaining constant, it’s not surprising to learn that it also formed the foundation on which the entire festival has been built. “I consider it like a super-deluxe extension of my own living room,” says Phil. “When friends come in and people come to hangout I’m always turning them on to either flicks or music. So instead of me sitting in my actual living room saying ‘hey, you want to watch House With The Laughing Windows or check out some new Portal,’ it’s like, well, let’s go watch Portal and go watch the actual movie.”

Phil harbors an extra-special affinity for the medium of film and “actual movie” in this case refers to the numerous 35mm prints scheduled for Housecore 2014. “There is really no other format that screams horror off the screen like 35mm. Not that every modern film is bad, or bad looking. That’s ridiculous. But the graininess, the way the colors mesh, the quality of 35mm: It all just screams horror.” Among the many, Housecore 2014 will boast such titles as Creepers (AKA: Phenomena), Frightmare, Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon, Shock Waves, Tourist Trap and Gates of Hell (AKA: City of the Living Dead). And commingling with all the classic fright fare will be a showcase of horror’s young blood. “One of my favorite parts [of Housecore] would be the newer directors and the submissions,” says Phil. Along with Corey, the best shorts and features are handpicked from the onslaught of upstarts seeking to break into the business. The compliment created between the dichotomy of aspiring artists and horror’s time-honored heroes has become a welcome surprise and a prospect Phil is proud to display: “I think that whole mixture right there is just perfect.”

The festival will also host a special screening of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre along with a reunion of its surviving cast members and a unique opportunity for all the Leatherface fanatics out there. “We’re going to have a visit to the original house where The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was shot. You’ve got to buy a badge to get on a limited bus ride out there. It takes about an hour-and-a-half so we’ll be showing The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on the way there and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 on the way back. But when you’re there we’ll have cast members from both movies hanging out for pictures, drinks and maybe some barbeque action.”

Phil’s love for celluloid death is matched only by his desire for audio assault, and this is well apparent when considering the impossible roster of bands assembled for Housecore 2014. “People can say they like heavy music and that’s fine, but then there’s people like myself that love to explore as many facets of heavy music as possible. There’s always some sort of beauty I find in ugly music. It comes in many forms. There’s lots of hideous music out there that’s very well worth it and fantastic if you look hard enough.” To that effect, the lineup ranges from the highest of profiles like Danzig/Samhain, Neurosis, Gwar, Napalm Death, and a reunion of Phil’s own Superjoint Ritual to the most brutal and bizarre underground acts like Portal, Eyehategod, Ken Mode, King Parrot and Child Bite.

When all of these bands and movies come together, the Housecore Horror Film Festival may seem a bit staggering. Festivalgoers may be forced to choose between seeing a killer band or a ruthless killer on screen. Phil admits this is unfortunate, but ultimately fallout from the sheer magnitude of Housecore’s intended scope. “I don’t ever want there to be a lull. It’s a damn shame that with the amount of films we want to show and the amount of bands we want to have, you’re going to have to pick and choose at one point or another. I understand all that, but I don’t want anything to be filler. I want everything to be relevant and true to the fest.”

If you do happen to feel overcome by the enormity of all this, rest assured that you’re in good company. As the weekend of horrific sights and sounds rapidly approaches, Phil cannot help but share your sentiments: “It’s a great underground lineup. If you look at Danzig, with him doing Samhain, it’s very unique. And give me a break, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre? It’s an absolutely sick and twisted movie for its time and it left a tremendous impression on me. So to have the cast down… All this shit is kind of overwhelming for me.”

For information about the Housecore Horror Film Festival, please visit:


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