Phil Anselmo doesn’t need an introduction so there isn’t even a point in trying one right now. However, in recent years he’s added more strings to his bow with the establishment of Housecore Records along with his forthcoming solo record. Now teaming up with crime author Corey Mitchell, Anselmo has co-founded the Housecore Horror Film Festival taking place on Halloween in Austin, Texas. The weekend promises to be an unnerving descent into the abyss of horror films with performances from Down and Eyehategod to name a few. CVLT Nation speaks with Phil to find out more.
Let’s start at the beginning. How did the idea for Housecore Horror Film Festival come about?
That’s an amazing question really because I’ve thought to myself a hundred times; how the fuck did I even get this far with this thing? It’s the guy named Corey Mitchell who is a true crime writer, he’s the guy I will be writing my autobiography with. He’s more of a data collector and the type that will make sure the stuff within the book runs perfectly in a timeline. But it was his idea because, I mean, once you come to my house and hang out a little bit, you look around, a lot of my décor, so to speak [laughs], it just screams horror films and once you see my collection, it’s ridiculous so he was like man, you’ve got to share some of these movies with people and just in general. One thing led to another and now it’s just this whole different animal. There’s bands and amazing directors that dedicated to come so it’s a little intimidating but that’s where we’re at.
Tell us a little about what the festival is about and what it’s trying to achieve?
To achieve? A good time. Period. That’s all, I don’t know what else there is to achieve. From people showing up and saying that they saw great films, for them to actually show up and see movies. I guess the newer submissions especially and maybe even stuff that is older and underground, for people that really want to see films, I hope they have a great time and people that want to hear a whole lot of different bands and a whole lot of variety, I want them to have a good time.
Plus, horror films and heavy metal music have gone hand in hand for a very long time. There’s going to be people there for both and they’re going to have to cram in the best of both worlds. So really man, I’m doing it for fun. We’ll see how it goes this year and if we’re able for it, I’ll start saying this is an annual thing.
You’re holding the festival at Emo’s in Austin, Texas. Any particular reason for holding the festival in that venue and city?
It wasn’t my choice. It was something that Corey came up with because I believe he has connections there that were willing to take a chance and hold the fest. I think they believe in it, I think they think it’s a great idea so really that’s more of a Corey Mitchel question.
One of your latest addition to the festival’s line-up is an appearance from Brazilian filmmaker, screenwriter and all round horror movie luminary Coffin Joe. Tell us a little about this addition and how he will be fitting into the weekend’s proceedings.
Well, I am a film collector from way back. I was turned on to Coffin Joe back in the early ‘90s, or late ‘80s, through a magazine called Film Threat and then obviously Frank Henenlotter from the Basket Case fame, the director of Basket Case, also has his own film distribution company called Something Weird Video and they started carrying Coffin Joe films. I remember a fellow horror advocate guy asking me back in the day, ‘have you seen Coffin Joe?’ and I’m like who? I didn’t know anything about him back in the ‘80s and he says you’re crazy, you’ve got check out Coffin Joe.
The first movie I bought was At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul and it blew me away. First of all, for when it came out and its do what thou wilt attitude, it’s incredible and then I’ve seen a lot of his more trippy films, more acidic so to speak type movies.
We just played in Down… I was touring in South America with Down just this last week or so and he came out to a show and he was super cool and he brought all this Coffin Joe paraphernalia. I had no fucking clue that this guy has been making movies for as long as he’s been making them, and the difference of these movies, the different genres of films that he’s done, everything from soft porn to porno to horror films to children movies! He’s been in the business for so long. It’s a hell of a pleasure to have him be part of this.
Both you and Corey will be screening some of your favourite horror films and discussing their significance and influence. What films are you most excited about screening and why?
I’m not really at liberty to give away a lot of titles yet because things are still in the working stage but sure, we have plenty of films nailed down. One of the films that I’m excited about, just for kicks, would be the original Evil Dead because of the remake that just came out, just as a reminder of what a powerful film that is. Really a fluke film if you ask me but still, for memory’s sake, when I was 15 years old and first saw it, it was a powerful beating so I’m excited about that but also I’m really excited about the Italian old school horror that we’re playing.
I’m excited about a lot of new films believe it or not. As a matter of fact, yesterday I went through two or three different submissions and honestly, there are some filmmakers out there that are pushing the envelope, that are really trying to bring something fresh and original to the screen instead of regurgitation so I like that a whole fucking lot. I got to say, I guess any well-schooled horror fan will walk in and maybe they’ll want to see an old classic up on the big screen.
Actually we have films… that I believe Jörg Buttgereit is showing his Nekromantik movies and perhaps Schramm on actual 35mm, which is very exciting. But once I have to go back to the newer films because those are the films that are going to be the most scrutinised obviously because they haven’t been seen on a mass level yet and I think we really have some good ones ranging from short to mid-range, even full-length films that will leave a good impact and that’s very important.
There will also be documentaries featured. What sort of stuff can we expect?
I’m not 100% on all of the documentaries because it’s still being compiled but I know it’s going to range from music stuff to true crime stuff and anything in there between. There will be a bit of both of those genres and depending on what’s presented to me at the end of the day or any second now, it depends on the content of said documentary. Like I said before, music is a definite and true crime is a definite. That’s really all I can say on that.
There are a number of bands playing the festival, of course Down, your own set and Eyehategod. How will the live sets complement the screenings?
That is an interesting question. I think we’re going to try and run different timeslots but in my mind, the way I envision it, there’s going to be people there strictly for film so I don’t want to pull the carpet from underneath them. I think one of the other buildings on the ground will be a continuous run of film when the bands are playing just so we don’t leave out [anyone]. I don’t want to leave anybody out of the fun so I would suspect that when the bands are playing there would also be films run at the same time. So it might a tough choice here and there but, once again, people that do not really care about bands, then obviously the films will be more for them.
Of course, horror has clearly been a huge influence on your music. How much does the horror genre still influence your writing?
Right now, I can’t say that I try and… you know what, it depends on the project that I’m doing because I do so many music projects. I have a solo record coming out here in the States in July and I can’t necessarily say that horror films were a great catalyst for that but with Down, I do have that freedom to play with words, to mess around with lyrics that aren’t necessarily pointed but very much so derived, maybe subconsciously, through horror films. But with saying all that, I have to admit right now I’m going through my fourth or fifth HP Lovecraft phase and it just seems like the older I get and the more used to HP Lovecraft’s archaic styling and the fantastic words that he uses, it’s a very big influence. I’m a wordsmith. The English language is an amazing influence right there in itself; just a lot of the words he uses, a lot of the phrasing he uses. Obviously it’s not my style to write a song about Yog-Sothoth or something like that [laughs] but within his stories, there’s so much content that it’s impossible not to be influenced so believe me, as many horror films I watch… I think yesterday, besides the three submissions, I couldn’t sleep and watched four or five horror films back to back so that’s probably, like, eight movies I watched, just yesterday. So it’s a constant running theme in this house.
What’s your take on the many horror film remakes and reboots of late? Especially in the wake of the new Evil Dead for example.
Well, you know what, I think there’s a lot of misses, a lot of pissing on the original’s grave. I’m not wild about remakes, I’m not wild about the use of unneeded CGI and a lot of the modern stylings of films today with its cartoonish approach and stop motion approach in fight scenes and hero to heroine change-ups where there’s a man instead of a woman and what not. It’s ridiculous, it’s awful. I mean, I could go into a million scenarios, like Black Christmas comes to mind and fucking Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. They’re not going to touch the original for me and I’m not that big of a fan. But I’ve got to almost bite my tongue and maybe I’m in the minority here and this doesn’t go without a little bit of a swipe but The Thing remake was a pretty decent prequel in its own right. I thought, conceptually, it was pretty on the mark but they should not have called it the fucking Thing. They should have really stressed the prequel idea in the title itself instead of flat out calling it The Thing just for the sake of [it]. I think it’s a feasible and acceptable prequel that has minimal holes in it. There’s questionable stuff throughout, don’t get me wrong but still not so bad and even the use of the CGI wasn’t as, I guess, flat out fucking Scooby Doo looking as most.
Finally, what is the status of the next Down EP?
Yeah, we are already hammering out some musical portions. I’ve been going apeshit crazy gathering lyrics and whatnot. I think it would be fair to say that the next Down EP would be expected early next year and not much later than that. In other words, everything is already in motion, we’re very cognisant of what the timeframe is. I’ve said it in many interviews before that Down is the worst… the worst band at projecting when the next record will come out because one record will come out and I’ll have that question you just asked me and I’ll be like oh it’s ready, it’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming and then five years passes [laughs] and fuck, I’m a liar. But honestly, I really think that there’s a concerted effort. As a matter of fact, a definite fact, the reason we have opted for EPs is because everyone in this band is obligated to other bands. As we talk right now, I’m in the middle of producing the new Eyehategod, and Kirk with Crowbar is about to come in and do an EP with Housecore Records, which is my label so we’re all busy.
I think the idea of putting out EPs is really a good one for us because it gives us an opportunity to concentrate on our strongest material and the chance to not look back and over fucking think and to get these records out quicker for the hardcore Down audience. I don’t give a fuck about winning over new fans or charting on Billboard and all that fucking shit. I’m not into popularity contests. I know for a fact that Down has a hardcore cult following and basically once again the idea of the EPs is to get the music out fucking quicker to our audience, man. So early next year, brother.