OCTOBER 27, 2014
I won’t forget this date.
Housecore Horror Film Festival volume 2 had wrapped, and Scotty F, Marsha and myself were drinking our way through the hip restaurants along Austin Texas’s funky South Congress Street.
What a better way to wrap up an international trip than to get drunk as fuck and ensure you spend your plane ride home HUNG OVER.
We sat in the Lucky Robot Japanese kitchen, and I casually checked through facebook on my phone and saw a post that said Corey Mitchell, the founder of Housecore Horror Film Festival had died.
That’s.. that’s not right.
Corey’s a young man. I saw him less than 24hrs ago and he was high fiving me over PBRs.
Immediately, I laughed pretty nervously. This was a joke right?
Corey and I had become friends after we first attended Housecore Horror Film Festival in 2013. Drunk in a Graveyard was still struggling to find footing in the world of horror journalism, and it was the push from Corey that pulled us into metal journalism.
It was Housecore Horror Film Festival 2013 that changed DIAG, forever.
When we returned in 2014 to HHFF, it wasn’t as ticket holding fun seekers anymore.. it was as press, with shiney passes and high quality DSLR cameras.
Corey knew my passion for photography, but also knew I was too scared to do much with it. He told me very distinctly – ‘fuck em. how hard can it be?’.
He told me that he liked our writing. He followed our site. He was one of the first people to send me a message or write a comment after I would post a drunken rant/movie review and laugh along with me or ask me what the fuck I was on.
HHFF 2014 changed something in me personally, and changed something for this site.
And Corey was responsible.
He couldn’t be dead.
No fucking way.
…but he was.
Do you ever have those moments of trauma where you don’t exactly feel real? Your stomach clenches, and you can’t feel your legs, your heart seems to stop beating even though your atria still fill with blood… somehow your hearing turns off and your tongue feels numb and trying to speak you feel your throat fill with bile.
My friend. This young man. This father.
These words didn’t connect for me in the brain and yet the trauma they unleashed knocked the wind almost out of me.
I was fresh into university. A tiny little fetus of a year one undergrad. Hadn’t set foot inside a hospital yet to wield a shaking hand with an injection for any patients.. But i knew about the heart. The plastic model in my lab at school seemed foreign to me now as I thought about the heart of my friend going into myocardial infarct.
Heart attacks don’t happen to young men. That’s for old people.
But. It had.
While Corey loaded his car up at the completion of this second edition of HHFF, he suffered a massive heart attack and he had died.
We drank so much at the Lucky Robot Japanese Kitchen, I’m surprised we didn’t die there.
When we staggered home later, nursing headaches and heartaches, we didn’t talk about it. Grief turned into irritability and we parted ways at the airport.
I thought maybe I was fine, until I got home. When I set my luggage down inside my house, I was overcome. I couldn’t breathe and my hands felt like huge paws.
I went to school because it was the only thing I knew how to do. I remember hearing someone call my name before waking up in the office of a very concerned member of my school’s faculty who was asking me over and over if they could call someone to take me home.
And they did.
And I don’t remember a whole lot after this.
I spent months after this in a deep depression, something that was punctuated by me purchasing my first ever DSLR that was all my own. I began expressing my grief through photography. I applied to be press at numerous shows and I became press.
I became a photographer.
But I still waited somehow.. with every post that I made for Corey’s comment or email or facebook message. Maybe it was really all a joke after all.
But.. it wasn’t. And I knew that.
It didn’t make Corey’s passing any less difficult.
2015 marked one year on from his passing. Around this same time, I lost another friend.. This time, a young woman, a new mom. She died of a seizure.
I slipped into a deep depression once again in 2015, caught up in both fresh and old grief.
I vowed to take my own life in the spring of 2016. But I didn’t.
Why didn’t I? Because I had a show to shoot.
No sense applying to shoot a show and not showing up.
Moving forward now, it’s still 2016, but the year is coming to a close. Corey’s death date anniversary passed on October 27, and Facebook memories was good at reminding me about the man we lost in 2014.
Both Scott and myself spent a hard day this year thinking about what is really important in life. That test you failed? That shitty email someone sent you at work? The lady who cut you off in traffic. Those things don’t fucking matter.
The people you love? The people who LOVE YOU. The people who reach across the time and space of distance and social structures and class, and everything else to find one moment of connection with you.. the shared beers, the shared laughs, the memories.
Those things fucking matter.
I wish I’d had more time to make more of those memories with Corey.
But then.. that’s the one thing that connects this all, all this loss. I said it in 2006 at my best friend’s funeral.. I wish I had had more time.
So. Two years on from Corey Mitchell’s passing, I urge you all to hold your friends close, make those memories, share those beers, take that day off to see a show, and most of all.. let the people you care about know what they mean to you.
Corey. Your influence in this community is not one that will be soon forgotten. You were loved by many, and missed by many more.
Rest well, my friend.