Housecore Horror Film Festival: A Recap of a Bittersweet Weekend
The second annual Housecore Horror Film Festival was one of the best weekends of my life, but unfortunately it ended with the death of Co-founder and true crime author Corey Mitchell. For those that don’t know, I was a screener for the independent films that got played at the fest and was selected by Corey to do so. While I didn’t know him terribly well, I talked to him with relative frequency throughout the screening process and always enjoyed chatting with him at the Festival whenever our paths crossed. He absolutely loved talking horror and metal and his face would light up if you told him that you discovered something new because of him.
He was also one of the kindest individuals you’re likely to find in the horror or metal scene. That kind of thing gets said after almost everyone’s passing as way to shed a positive light on them, false praise, but I mean every word of it here. He encouraged my writing on more than one occasion, so here I am sharing it with you fine gentlemen. Corey, this one is for you.
While the day following was tragic, everything leading up to that moment was a metal and horror fans paradise. What follows is a day by day recap of said events including shitty cell phone pictures (hey, I’m not media. I’m just a guy with a phone), a Toilet meetup, and a whole lot of Gwar playing “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys.
My friend and I arrive in Austin around 7:30 or so and seeing as how he is an old man who wakes up at 5 every morning and I’m a weirdo who never sleeps, we decide to just grab our badges, get some food and beer and call it a night early. UNTRVE!
We opt to start our morning with a movie, 1979’s Don’t Go in the House (a film about a man burned by his mother as a child who, upon her death, snaps and starts chaining up women and killing them with a flamethrower after offering them a ride) prefixed by the independent short Familiar (which I absolutely recommend seeking out). Unfortunately due to technical difficulties Familiar has to be rescheduled. Once the insane journey that was Don’t Go in the House started, though, that was all but forgotten.
Afterwards we went to get food thinking we’d be missing Origin, a band whose work I’m not familiar with. Oh how foolish am I. We returned to Midways, the sports bar whose parking lot is hosting all of the day bands (Related: fuck the sun) to discover things started later than scheduled so we wouldn’t actually miss Origin at all. This turned out to be great news because they put on the best show by a band not named Portal all day. When the pit wasn’t to Jason Keyser’s satisfaction, he leapfrogged me into the crowd and started one himself. Despite the heat and early time of their set (a little after 1pm) they kept up that ferocious energy for the entirety of their set.
Brian Posehn offered a nice change of pace cracking wise about Star Wars, getting teabagged by his 5 year old, and the number of skin tags on his testicles. If none of that makes you laugh then I’m telling people that I don’t know you when they ask. Things got a lot more serious as Cattle Decapitation took the stage. They savagely tore their way through a set that relied heavily upon tunes from Monolith of Inhumanity, but can you blame them? Oh, and did I mention they played a new song? It ripped. Everything you’d expect from Cattle Decapitation in this post Monolith world.
Having been thoroughly decimated and hating Unearth, we scope out another film by the name of The Witch Who Came from the Sea. It was easily the weirdest film I witnessed at the fest, and that includes a movie where the protagonists are a fly and a razor blade wielding monkey. We doubled up our movie madness with a Canadian gem known as The Brain. You don’t care about that, though. You care about Portal. Wizards of Gore (AKA Rigor Mortis) ripped everyone a new asshole with a set that featured Travis Ryan doing vocals for “Foaming at the Mouth,” but it would all pale in comparison to the brutality and sheer weirdness that would follow.
Phil Anselmo himself took the stage to introduce the band stating that the atmosphere was about to completely change. He was right. As they took the stage the audience exploded. They proceeded to unleash their own, weird brand of worship music, singing praises to tentacle masses and writhing flesh instead of whatever God you worship. After spending an hour staring into the void we decided to go catch City of the Living Dead, or as you may better recognize it, the film that inspired Death’s “Regurgitated Guts.” What better way to end the night than that? (Sorry Voivod).
Saturday morning kicked off with a resident cheesy favorite in Trick or Treat. I bailed a little early to see Archspire and they did not disappoint. Unless dudes in Wu-Tang shirts and basketball shorts disappoint you, in which case you should probably just stay really far away. Up next was the movie Creepers featuring the aforementioned razor wielding monkey (I’m sorry guys, there were a fuckton of movies I wanted to see. Where is Toilet ov Horror?) From this point forward though, it was all music save for a badass 1am parking lot screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
We moved back over to Midways for a brief set by the delightfully eccentric fellows in Macabre, and I must say, I feel like a learned a lot about serial killers in their short time on stage. Death metal: fountain of knowledge! At this point in the day we were both pretty ready for a ton of beer, just like any devout heavy metal fest goer. Luckily, one of my friends happened to be in town working a beer festival so we headed out to drink a dozen tiny samplers of beer. The smell of beer was a welcome change from the aroma of sweat and pot that had been the prevailing scent so far. Oh, and shout out to the dude who didn’t mark my card because he liked my Archspire shirt. I’ll love you forever.
Once we finished our brief detour into a world of beer-y goodness it was time for King Parrot. Whatever crazy stories you’ve heard about these dudes is probably true. Lead singer Matthew Young (or Youngy if you want to be a cool kid) spent entire songs in the pit or crowd surfing. You’d be hard pressed to find a better time being had outside of Gwar.
It was at this point that things got very cool as we managed to get a little ToH gathering going. You dudes are far more handsome and clean smelling in person. Author and Punisher came on next and I can’t say I was terribly won over. It probably didn’t help that I was eagerly anticipating a set by the legendary Neurosis next. That set, by the way, totally delivered. When you hear countless people refer to a Neurosis show as a religious experience, it’s easy to discount them. The thing is, every person who has ever told you that is absolutely right. Their songs are so layered and atmospheric that it’s a small miracle they can recreate them live, much less make them this impactful.
This brings us to Gwar. Now, the last time I saw Gwar this happened to my skull:
So between that and the fact that they’re performing without Oderus Urungus, I was a weird combination of excited and terrified. Luckily they put on exactly the kind of show you would expect and my wig remained unsplit. The framing of Dave Brockie’s death as Oderus going missing and the band questing to find him sounds really tacky, but seeing it in practice makes one realize it’s a fitting tribute that Brockie would want and deserves. A whole array of characters got a shot at vocals, ranging from Sawborg Destructo to Bonessnapper to newcomers Vulvatron and Blothar. All did an admirable job both singing and delivering laughs, but there was undeniably something missing without Brockie’s presence. I’m interested to see where they go from here after their current tour story line draws to a close. [Joe Note: Their closing song, a cover of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died”, was a really emotional moment for this lamer.]
The final day of the fest, and I definitely took it a little easy. 5 hours of sleep will do that to a man. We set off for a screening of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 with a cast Q&A afterwards. All this did was further my bro crush on Bill Moseley who I am determined to make my best friend and go on adventures with. TMI? This was followed by a trip to get some barbecue and then some waiting for what was surely everyone’s most anticipated band of the day: Superjoint Ritual.
As soon as they took the stage you could tell you were in for a beating, and they gave it to the audience like they had never stopped. The whole band was tight and energetic with Phil Anselmo channeling himself circa 2002 to belt out jams such as “The Introvert” and “Fuck Your Enemy.” This was classic Superjoint and when it was all said and done, it was depressing knowing it was over.
I took an extended break at this point because I’m an old fart who was just too damn tired to function properly. After a little rest and a lot of caffeine it was time for Eyehategod. Jimmy Bower had already played with Superjoint, but he looked every bit as energetic as he had several hours ago. Mike Williams made a few terrible ebola jokes (not offensive, just really unfunny), but even that couldn’t undercut the power of “Sisterfucker (parts 1 and 2)” or “Methamphetamine.”
This all brings us to the climax: Danzig. I will fully admit I was not even remotely stoked to see Danzig. The only songs I know by his solo band are “Twist of Cain” and “Mother” and even those 2 I only moderately enjoy (okay, I dig the shit out of Twist of Cain). I expected rockstar drama. I expected terrible singing. I expected all of those horror stories you’ve heard about Glenn Danzig to come true on stage that night. But then something weird happened: Danzig took the stage…and he fucking rocked. After a set of Danzig songs he disappeared from the stage for a few moments, eventually emerging with a whole new band all covered in blood so they could bang out some Samhain tunes, which I am again unfamiliar with (but ruled). As the night wound down he switched back into his standard Danzig attire for another song before eventually closing out with “Mother,” but with the assistance of Mr. Phil Anselmo on vocals. The only thing cooler than that was looking over and seeing that Bill Moseley (still not my BFF at this point) was in the pit.
As we walked back to the car, my body so tired from 3 straight days of greatness, I found myself wishing it wasn’t quite over yet. Just one more day. Just a few more bands. Just a handful of movies. I think it’s incredible, to say the least, a festival featuring that much content can leave a person craving more. I have no idea what the future will hold for this festival with the loss of Corey Mitchell. It’s way too soon to even speculate. Right here, right now though, it has been one of my favorite experiences the past 2 years. All I can do is hope it will continue to do so for several years more.