"some music was meant to stay underground..."


Jason Voorhees around every corner, Gwar spilling guts and special Eyehategod performance set the bar for the first Housecore Horror Festival

Photo of Gwar

Band Photo: Gwar (?)

Housecore Horror Film and Heavy metal festival masterminds, Corey Mitchell and Philip H. Anselmo brought Austin, Texas a rare entertainment opportunity, packaged in human flesh, marred by celluloid cigarette burns--a four-day, multi-stage, multi-tent, multi-everything horror-movie festival. Industry people arrived from all around the world to help support this lofty endeavor.

The gorier the better as many of the major stars of the film portion of the festival had participated in legendary blood spillers such as the "Nekromantik" film series (Director Jörg Buttgereit ), "Coffin Joe" (Director José Mojica Marins ) and "Friday the 13th." Ari Lehman made film history when Jason Voorhees finally sprung to life after the murder of his mother. Lehman attended the festival not only as a film celebrity, but as a musician. Nefarious of Macabre joined Lehman on stage in his First Jason band to perform campy horror metal songs about that guy in the hockey mask.

Speaking of Jason Voorhees, I watched the indie film "Exit to Hell," starring Kane Hodder of Jason's masked days. When murdering thieves take to hiding they find their selves off the beaten path into a desert hell with Hodder as the devil. He doesn't have a forked tail or cloven hooves, but Sheriff Slade Sickle's an evil man who looks after his hate-filled community. While the protagonist Sickle slashes and saws his way into bloody oblivion, the film doesn't obsess on gore. Sure there are a few scenes of modern cinematic gore. However, the film makers used American Grindhouse-style film editing as an artistic distraction from the graphic violence.

Although guessing how each secondary plot line came together wasn't too difficult, the film's action, acting and terror make it one of the better small-budget horror films on today's market. Co-stars Tiffany Shepis (Nightmare Man, Dark Reel) and Rena Riffel (Showgirls, Mulholland Dr.) served as fine damsels in distress--and boy were they in distress. Fans of kill-billy thrillers such as "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "House of 1,000 Corpses" take notice. Look for this white-knuckler on I-tunes, PPV and Redbox. Expect a DVD release early next year.

After completing "Exit to Hell" and talking to the film's creators--Robert Conway, Justin Anderson and David Friedman, I "exited stage left" from the "Zombie" room and made my entrance into hell. I witnessed Goblin perform the score to Dario Argento's "Suspiria." Less than 60 minutes before the clock stuck midnight--the witching hour--Goblin brought a 3D sound effect to the giant screen that flickered images of mysterious rites of magic and murder. The experience proved much different than watching a film or a band. Instead of gasping at the coming atrocious projections, the crowd seemed to suck in a palpable amount of nervous energy with every note struck. The kings of horror film scores made sure the audience felt it's spine-chilling presence as resounding bass lines pulsated through the entire building. This rare performance was a treat to all fans of Italian horror cinema.

Not only the festival closer on Sunday night, Goblin performed before Down at Emo's on Friday night. Their set of keyboard-soaked material included sounds from their albums and from other renowned horror classics such as "Zombie." Although not a heavy metal band, seeing Goblin produce the sounds on "Suspiria" satisfied the music-film festival's music-film crossover appeal.

The heavy metal portion of the festival featured horror-film related acts such as First Jason, Repulsion and the theatrics of Gwar and A Band of Orcs. Fans experienced more sludge than Austin's current flooding situation. Eyehategod, Down, Goatwhore and Melvins were a few artists that laid it down thick and murky. Crowbar and Eyehategod experienced lineup changes prior to the festival. Eyehategod was able to provide a short-term fix to the death of original drummer, Joe LaCaze with Melvin's drummer Dale Crover filling in. Fans reported how special this performance was for EHG.

Crowbar decided to forgo playing the festival, as did NYC death metal legends, Suffocation. Crowbar's Kirk Weindstein wasn't seen on stage with Crowbar or Down. The long-time Down guitarist was recently replaced by Austin local, Bobby Landgraf. Landgraf pulled double duty at separate locals. First he debuted with Down at Emo's on Friday. The next day, he stepped back into more familiar territory with his group Honky at the Buzz Mill.

Other notable performances came via grinders Pig Destroyer (Antone's), death metal veterans Hate Eternal (Antone's), black-sludge slingers Goatwhore (Emo's), crossover maniacs, Iron Reagan and the return of White Zombie co-founder Sean Yseult in Star & Dagger (Buzz Mill). Housecore Records weird-metal act Cavalcade made the trip from Michigan and gained more followers. Veternan acts from Texas were also on display with bands such as Warbeast and '90s industrialists, Skrew. Some of Austin's best showed up, too, including Goatcraft, Dead Earth Politics, Headcrusher and Austin's School of Rock

The diversity of sounds found at the festival insured something for everyone, although we would like to see more horror themed artists on the next installment. Even though tickets were costly, $100 per section, attendance was high and very few artists dropped off the bill. Word is the festival will return to Austin next year. Next year make sure to save your trick-r-treat and costume money for this blood-strewn extravaganza!

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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