Housecore Horror Majordomo – Phil Anselmo
Pantera/Down icon talks tape trading and terror
By Richard Whittaker,
11:00AM, Thu. Oct. 24, 2013
“Housecore.” When you hear that one word growled into the phone, there’s no doubt it’s Phil Anselmo at the other end of the line. The word has become his new brand.
Firstly, it’s the name of his label, Housecore Records, and this weekend, it’s becomes the toe-tag on his first excursion into the dark realm of festival production: the Housecore Horror Film Festival. Not only did Anselmo help select the bands and films playing, he’s also fronting NOLA stoner gods Down and his new extreme solo project, Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals.
“Been working hard, man,” he rumbles. “I’ve got the house full as usual, this time with the Down guys, and we’re working on the next EP.”
I tell him my right knee has never been the same since Pantera played Donnington Monsters of Rock back in 1994. Anselmo laughs. That’s about when his left knee started plaguing him.
“It’s probably for the same reason as yours, except that I was on the stage. My skeleton has taken a beating. I guess I’m showing my age.
“So now it’s established that we’re old,” he barks. “Let’s rock this interview, Jackson.”
Austin Chronicle: The best thing about film festivals is finding new shit, but with Housecore Horror there’s also a lot of paying tribute to people like Italian director Ruggero Deodato.
Phil Anselmo: Oh my god, it’s huge. When people talk about found footage in the modern era, most people don’t know where the egg or the chicken came from. And you’ve gotta think – with Ruggero – is Cannibal Holocaust the most unknown and yet greatest found footage film ever? I would have to say yes. Most people think that the found footage phenomenon came with the frigging Blair Witch Project, and I’m sorry to say no it didn’t. They ripped that off clean from fucking Cannibal Holocaust, and that’s some of Ruggero’s finest work.
AC: In the credits to Green Inferno, Eli Roth lists all the cannibal movies that influenced his film, including directors and alternate titles, and recommends that people go watch them.
PA: I didn’t like fucking Hostel, but good for him. Hah! Fucking Hostel. Didn’t even realize I was making a joke.
AC: Coffin Joe is one of the big Housecore guests. How did you come in contact with him?
PA: That takes me back to the old tape trading days when you’d get pirate lists. What I mean by that is people who had the films at their house and would send you order forms so you could pay and get a movie. All they would really do was dub you off a VHS and mail it to your house. That was very similar to tape trading and demo trading with music. I was very involved with that in the middle to late Eighties, when I started making a little bit of scratch with Pantera and I could afford certain tiny luxuries. Really, all my money went to rent, groceries, music, and films.
My first Coffin Joe experience, I was ordering over the phone, and this guy with this big deep voice asks me, “Have you ever heard of Coffin Joe?” I’m like, “No, what is this Coffin Joe you speak of?” Sure enough, he sent me At Midnight I’ll Take You Soul. That movie smoked me, man. It blew my frigging my mind. By the time I was turned onto that, it was towards the middle end of the Eighties, and really I haven’t turned back since.
I’m a tremendous Coffin Joe fan, and matter of fact had a chance to meet with him last time Down played Brazil a year ago. He showed up and came with all these killer old posters. What surprised me was his body of work. Coffin Joe has done everything from children’s films and educational films to porno. The guy’s done hundred films on shoestring budgets, and it shows incredible creativity. That type of creativity and style is something that’s sorely missing out of today’s films.
AC: Obviously you know everyone on the music side of the fest, but when you were looking at the film side, what were you looking for?
PA: I wanted a reflection of what I grew up with. What made me tick and why, from the old Italian stuff to a lot of the grindhouse stuff. You’ve got to think of adding the bands. If you look at my track record, man, some of the biggest thrills and things that made me happy in life are turning people onto music and film. So for me, this was the right way to go about it. It’s almost like having one gigantic living room and an audience to sit and watch films and/or listen to music. I wanted it to be true to form and personal.
AC: You’re showing a lot of classic and grindhouse stuff, which I know is your passion.
PA: If I wanted to show everything I thought was essential, we would be sitting there for six months. You have to get what you can take, and find out who has the rights to what. Honestly, I had a fantastic team around me in Corey Mitchell, [creative director] Tammy Moore, and [Housecore chief engineer] Kate Richardson. They all just kick ass. I’ve got to give them big props for narrowing the films down for me to a certain degree. When it came down to certain movies, I was very adamant that we’ve got to show Lucio Fulci, we’ve got to show Mario Bava, we’ve got to show elements of horror.
Honestly, I wish we could have gone back even farther. Movies like The Old Dark House and anything by Boris Karloff. There’s a movie called Carnage with Peter Cushing and Karloff and Charles Laughton. It’s an incredible film and based on the true story of Burke and Hare. Put it this way, it was very, very tough to narrow it down because I’m a lunatic when it comes to film. The history is so rich and deep.
AC: What about the new stuff?
PA: I think there are some really fantastic unknown or lesser known artists and directors there that really care about horror. They really see where the major studios are in a gigantic glut with the constant stream of found footage movies and remakes that I think have been leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths that follow horror. We have some really great short films, medium length films, and feature films from directors that step out of any preconceived format and are going back to taking risks and being experimental and original in their approach.
Once again, I can’t wait to turn people on, especially folks who are veterans. Because the newer crowd, they want to take in what they want to take in. But the people who have followed the horror genre and done their homework and look to the past to see where the chicken and egg came from at one point or another, I can’t wait to get some sort of reaction out of them when they see some of the newer stuff. I think they’re going to be impressed.
AC: It’s a weird time for movies. Blumhouse is putting out $3 million movies that pull in $40 million on their opening weekend, and people say that horror’s back. Well, stuff like Insidious is very formulaic, but there’s still a hope that something really great can sneak through the cracks.
PA: I was pumped up by a lot of my horror movie going friends about Insidious, and by the time I saw it I was pretty let down. It was the same formula over and over for me, and didn’t do much for me really. At the same time, there are films like Let the Right One In, which is a very different vampire tale, and little more strange films like In Absentia. There’s a movie out there called The Pact, which was interesting to say the least.
Then there’s guys like Ti West, who touch on a little bit of a retro feel, but a film like House of the Devil is just weird enough and just bizarre enough and beautifully shot in the way of the late Seventies. The cinematography reminded me a little bit of the early Friday the 13th films. Even though the story’s much different, it harkened me back to those times in a good way. It made me want to rewatch it, to make sure I didn’t miss anything. When a film does that to me, it scores style point. So once again, there are certain directors out there who still give a flying F about the genre. I can’t stress how much that means to a guy like myself who really just enjoys watching films. Big ups to them.
Down plays Friday, Oct. 25, 11pm at Emo’s; Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals performs Sunday, Oct. 27, 9:35pm also at Emo’s. For more info, visit www.housecorehorrorfilmfestival.com.