Since February, horror and metal fans alike have been eagerly awaiting the details of the Housecore Horror Film Festival, and now they’re here. Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo had previously announced that he and true-crime author Corey Mitchell (Hollywood Death Scenes, Dead and Buried) would team up together to host the film festival in Austin, Texas, under the brand name of his “Housecore” record label. Taking place at Emo’s from October 25-27th, the festival promises to focus on showcasing rarely-seen feature length horror films and stomach-wrenching cult classics. Likewise, a call for submissions was set up to help lesser known independent filmmakers submit their films, be they shorts or full-length.
“HHFF will offer fans a mix of live concerts from at least a dozen of heavy metal’s heaviest hitters, and more than 70 screenings of full-length and short horror films, documentaries, true crime and heavy metal films, music videos, and more,” states the Festival’s official website. “Special guest appearances by revered and controversial horror film directors and other notable figures in the metal and movie worlds will give festival-goers the extreme experience they’re craving.”
In addition to performing with his solo band, Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals, Anselmo will also play with his all-star post-Pantera band, Down. Other musical acts include Gwar, Eyehategod, Crowbar, Warbeast, Goatwhore, Pig Destroyer, Skrew, Repulsion, and Suffocation, just to name a few. Some other classic films to be screened include both Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead and Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond with a special added “horror/exploitation reel”, The Manson Family (Courtesy of Severin Films, with director Jim VanBebber in attendance), William Lustig’s Maniac, Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust, Fulci’s Zombie, and countless others.
In thinking about this horror film festival, one can recall the importance of that timeless and oft misappropriated film adage: “Sound is 50% of the cinematic experience.” Everyone from Lucas to Coppola is the quote’s originator at some point, yet no one seems to know who really said it for sure. And as obvious as the statement may seem, the thought profoundly resonates when one considers the kind of distinction from a conventional film festival to the mixed “movie-music” festival that Anselmo and Mitchell are proposing.
What is most inventive about this festival is how this “movie-music” format also serves as a meditation on the conjoined roles music and film play within cinematic and live concert mediums. How so? Attila Csihar, of Mayhem fame, will perform a live soundtrack to Robert Wiene’s German expressionist film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, arguably the first slasher film and cinematic originator of the twist ending. A must see performance for not only for Black Metal fans, but also to those interested in experiencing an experimental sonic landscape to the 1920 silent film that remains as influential as it is timeless.
Similarly, Anselmo and Mitchell announced in April that Goblin, the Italian prog-rock band characteristically known for their soundtracks in Dario Argento films, would live-score the entire screening of Argento’s 1977 classic, Suspiria, and rumor has it that the show may be the band’s last time playing in North America.
Both screenings present a kind of fusion between a live concert and a cinematic viewing experience. Such a blending provides a rare treat to a mixed audience of metal and horror fans, offering rare atmospheric endeavors that sutures visual and aural elements of both film and music together. By doing so, these live sonic manipulations create an alleviated type of cinematic viewing, resulting in a hybrid experience: part movie, part live concert. I say alleviate because this hybridity when done right is invigorating to fans of both the medium of film and live concert music. This kind of engagement with the audience member/movie-goer further demonstrates just how vital musicality is to the Housecore Horror Film Festival at its core. But after selling out of all of their festivals VIP passes, Anselmo and Mitchell very carefully spoke to this duality, stating that “If you’re planning on going, three levels of tickets are available.”
These alternative “levels of engagement” speak to the more participatory bent of the film festival, as well as provide an outlet for critics of the festival who would prefer one emphasis over the other: the HHFF offers a COMBO badge (for Music & Film) as well as MUSIC ONLY and FILM ONLY wristbands. Time will tell whether or not the festival will be a breath of fresh air to the horror/metal community, or suffer from a crippling identity crisis. All the same, the paradigm seems to work fine for fellow Austin film/music/interactive festival of sorts, South by Southwest (SXSW), which serves as a healthy influence for the Housecore Horror Film Festival to have. But whether you’re a horror aficionado or a wax poetic metalhead, the Festival is sure to offer a rare forum for genre blending. What’s more is the connection between these two characters appears not only to be an apt marriage, but surely a spirited one to say the least!
Announcing new acts all the time, check out the Housecore Horror Film Festival’s website for updates on recently added new bands and film screenings!
– By Josef Luciano