Pantera's Haunted House

Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo says he's a Halloween kind of guy, but you won't find him wringing his hands over this year's costume or what kind of candy he'll be handing out to trick-or-treaters.

"It's more of an attraction to what it stands for and what the individual's perception of Halloween is," Anselmo explains. "There's a long, long history of different traditions. It's tough to pinpoint one thing that [Halloween's] really about, and I'm not about to try to do that."

For the past eight years, Anselmo's Halloween tradition has been the House of Shock (www.houseofshock.com), a haunted house in New Orleans that's brought thousands of lovers of the macabre to town each year to get their fix of impaled nuns, vomiting televangelists, live maggots — and some really scary stuff, too.

This year's House is even bigger, better, and bloodier, Anselmo reports, with "a lot of new stuff in it, new animatronic things and whatnot." Don't ask him for specifics though. "We have people who come down from all over the country," he says. "I'd hate to spoil it for them."

But there are those in New Orleans who'd like to do just that. Previous Houses of Shock — which have raised money for local charities, including the Children's Hospital of New Orleans, the Parish Police Bullet Proof Vest Fund, and the Greater New Orleans Riding Rehabilitation Center — have been protested by politicians and members of the religious right, some of whom have even entered the house with holy water to toss on the exhibits.

And as far as Anselmo is concerned, they're welcome — as long as the pay the admission fee.

"New Orleans is a small city," explains the singer, who hits the road with Pantera for a North American tour with Kittie and Morbid Angel on Nov. 7. "The neighborhoods we picked to throw them in weren't the best of ideas — older neighborhoods and more uptight neighborhoods that didn't want to hear satanic babble during their champagne dinners. F--k them. … Any kind of press is good press."

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