Headbangers and Monster Mash

Prepare to scream and bang your head at Austin's first Housecore Horror Film Festival

Prepare to scream and bang your head at the Housecore Horror Film Fest

poster for Housecore Horror Film Festival with Philip Anselmo
Poster for the Housecore Horror Film Festival, taking place October 24 - 27. Photo courtesy of Ghoulish Gary Pullin
singer Philip Anselmo choking author Corey Mitchell
Corey Mitchell (left) amicably worked with Philip Anselmo (right) to create the Housecore Horror Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Housecore Horror Film Festival/Facebook
poster for Housecore Horror Film Festival with Philip Anselmo
singer Philip Anselmo choking author Corey Mitchell

Why do hardcore film nerds love spending entire days and weekends sitting and watching movies? If it were merely to satiate their thirst for their favorite films and genres, they can easily do that in the comfort of home.

What film festivals are really about is sharing one's love of movies with others who are of the same mind. Starting Thursday, fans of horror films will be able to join in the fun with others like them — along with a dash of metal to bang your head to.

Set to begin its first year of scares and screams, the Housecore Horror Film Festival will screen old and new horror flicks, along with hosting some  top metal bands, at Emo’s, Antone’s and Dirty Dog Bar October 24-27.

The Housecore Horror Film Festival got its start when two dudes — true-crime author Corey Mitchell and Down frontman Philip Anselmo, formerly of Pantera — just happened to discover that they share a love for the scariest, creepiest and goriest films out there. 

It’s a mix of movies and music that will bring together a unique community. Fittingly, it got its start when two dudes just happened to discover that they share a love for the scariest, creepiest and goriest films out there.

The creators of this brand-new fest may be familiar to you: Corey Mitchell, a best-selling true crime author, and Philip Anselmo, the owner of Housecore Records, former lead singer of legendary Texas metal band Pantera and current frontman for Down. Mitchell is working with Anselmo on an autobiography, and the idea for founding the Housecore Fest came on a visit Anselmo’s house in Louisiana.

“I’m a huge, lifelong horror fanatic,” says Mitchell, “and you walk up to his house and it’s basically like a giant, three-story haunted house. It looks like something out of a Stephen King home or The Munsters.”

Once inside, Mitchell was greeted by a horror fan’s dream collection of various books, rare posters, memorabilia and a massive collection of movies. “You walk in, and it’s basically wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling old school VHS tapes with the clamshell cases on them and everywhere horror films, and the guy knows where every single film is,” Mitchell says.

Naturally, the two bonded between book-writing sessions, watching plenty of films during their downtime. Anselmo made sure to introduce Mitchell to the films he hadn’t seen, starting off with one of the frontman’s favorites, The House of Laughing Windows, by Pupi Avati.

It was then that Mitchell came up with his own idea.

“He just offhandedly mentioned, ‘Hey, we should do a horror fest’ and I said sure,” says Anselmo, “but really I was thinking small scale — really, really small scale compared to what it eventually became and what it is.”

Mitchell later asked what Anselmo thought of bands playing, which Anselmo thought made good sense, considering his connections. “Really, he took the ball and ran with it, and once word got out of that we were doing this thing, it seemed like everyone came out of the woodwork and stepped up and wanted to be a part of it.”

That combination of horror films and metal bands makes up most of the Housecore Horror Film Festival schedule. Special highlights include screenings of horror classics including The Evil Dead, Zombie ​and Cannibal Holocaust, as well as brand-new films that are a mix of mainstream and underground.

Headlining peformers include Down, Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals, Gwar, Warbeast and a special, stateside appearance by the Italian band Goblin, which scored several classic Dario Argento films.

Mitchell says that he wants fans to feel like they have choices about how to spend their festival, whether they want to spend all day watching films, listening to bands or mixing it up as much as they want. The festival will also have other unique experiences, including discussions with horror authors, guest appearances by horror filmmakers and actors, zombie makeovers and plenty more to get you into the spirit of horror.

“The things I’ve written about make horror movies not scary at all. To me, knowing that there are true monsters that exist in the world and walk among us is so much more intense and much more frightening.” — True crime author Corey Mitchell 

Both founders do want the experience to be about the films, whether its movies fans already love or ones they want to discover and then love. For Mitchell, his all-time favorite is still Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, starring an up-and-coming Michael Rooker.

“I’m very much into the realistic horror,” says the true crime author. “The things I’ve written about make horror movies not scary at all. To me, knowing that there are true monsters that exist in the world and walk among us is so much more intense and much more frightening.”

Anselmo also has his favorites, in addition to The House with Laughing Windows, depending on his mood. One popular choice is The Old Dark House, by Frankenstein director James Whale. “It’s one of my favorites of all time because of its atmosphere, and obviously the fantastic actors in that particular flick," he says. "Horror has something to offer within many, many decades. Each decade has its own stamp of what was popular and going on at the time.”

These two fans hope that the festival's first year brings plenty of success, but they are looking forward to having some fun themselves watching movies, although Anselmo will have to try his best to catch as many possible when not performing.

As long has he gets to introduce more fans to his favorites, he’ll be plenty pleased, he says. “Really, this whole thing is kind of like an extension of my living room, so to speak.” 

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The Housecore Horror Film Festival takes place October 24 – 27. Most badges are sold out, except for the Nighstalker badge that offers access to screenings and concerts starting after 5 pm. Individual tickets starting at $10 can be purchased, if available, in rush lines starting at about 15 minutes before each show.