Fantastic Fest 2012: Twitch's Super Festival Wrap

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor

As sad as it is to admit, Fantastic Fest has closed up shop for yet another year. Yes, the empty Shiner bottles are in the recycling, the karaoke books are on the shelves, and the regrets over new tattoos from the closing night party are already fading away (unlike the tattoos). As an added nugget of nostalgia, Fantastic Fest 2012 marked the final fest in the old South Lamar Drafthouse/High Ball configuration. Now get to digging! We are all nervously optimistic the renovations will be done in time for Fantastic Fest 2013.

While the good times have come and gone, we have plenty of letters put together into English language words and sentences to remember them by. Here is our extensive list of links to all of Twitch's remarkable coverage. Once you've checked out the reviews, scroll down to read some final thoughts from all the members of the team. Thanks to everyone for making Fantastic Fest 2012 such a success. Now pass the Advil.

Previews
The Great Open Preview by James, Peter, Josh, Ryland
Australia & New Zealand Preview by Tom Stone

Features & Interviews
Watch Devin Faraci Trade Blows With Joe Swanberg In The Fantastic Debates
Fantastic Fest Awards Dispatch
Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Laura Caro And Francisco Barreiro Talk HERE COMES THE DEVIL by Todd Brown
Rian Johnson talks LOOPER by Canfield
Joseph Gordon-Levitt talks LOOPER by Canfield
House of Psychotic Women Sidebar by Peter Martin

Drunken Master Director Review Series
Max Porcelijn Drunkenly Reviews Max Porcelijn's PLAN C
Steffen Haars Drunkenly Reviews NEW KIDS NITRO
Yamaguchi Yudai Drunkenly Reviews Yamaguchi Yudai's TEBANA SANKICHI
Javier Diment Drunkenly Reviews Javier Diment's LA MEMORIA DEL MUERTO
Øystein Karlsen Drunkenly Reviews Øystein Karlsen's FUCK UP
Ernesto Diaz Espinoza Drunkenly Reviews Ernesto Diaz Espinoza's BRING ME THE HEAD OF THE MACHINE GUN WOMAN

Reviews
BLACK OUT Review by Peter Martin
BRING ME THE HEAD OF THE MACHINE GUN WOMAN by Ryland Aldrich
COLD STEEL Review by James Marsh
COMBAT GIRLS Review by J Hurtado
CONSPIRACY Review by Peter Martin
CRAVE Review by Joshua Chaplinsky
DANGER 5 Review by Rachel Fox
DOM - A RUSSIAN FAMILY Review by Ryland Aldrich
EXORCIST IN THE 21ST CENTURY Review by Canfield
THE FINAL MEMBER Review by Canfield
FLICKER Review by Peter Martin
FRANKENWEENIE Review by James Marsh
FUCK UP Review by Joshua Chaplinsky
HELLFJORD Review by James Marsh
HOLY MOTORS Review by Brian Clark
LEE'S ADVENTURE Review by Niels Matthijs
LA MEMORIA DEL MUERTO Review by Canfield
MIAMI CONNECTION Review by Charlie Hobbs
NEW KIDS NITRO Review by Ard Vijn
PLAN C Review by Peter Martin
PUSHER Review by Scott Weinberg
RED DAWN Review by James Marsh
SINISTER Review by Peter Martin
TAPED Review by James Marsh
TOWER BLOCK Review by Charles Webb
TWO RABBITS Review by Ryland Aldrich
UNIT 7 Review by Peter Gutierrez
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING Review by James Marsh
VEGETARIAN CANNIBAL Review by Charlie Hobbs
WAKE IN FRIGHT Review by J Hurtado


Canfield


1. Top 5 films seen for the first time at Fantastic Fest 2012
I saw a total of 38 films, some ahead of time via the Press Vimeo links.

Here Comes The Devil (saw it twice)
The Final Member
The Shining Backwards and Forwards
I Declare War
Sinister

Special shouts out go to Hail and My Amityville Horror.

2. Biggest surprises
Being remembered so fondly by so many folks from last year- by name even. How humbling to know I really have a home away from home at the best genre event I've ever attended. I also kept bumping into people whose work I truly admired.

3. Biggest disappointments
If only Elijah Wood had been there and Maniac had been one of the surprise screenings. Also wish Ron Perlman had shown up for that Crave screening.

4. Favorite non-film entertainment
The Korean themed last night party. Where else can I indulge that penchant for ice cold deer blood? I got to say a fond farewell to all my fest friends, eat some amazing food, and pretend it was all never going to end.

5. Single most fantastic moment of the fest
I did twelve interviews and met an astounding assortment of great ultra talented folks and more importantly had great conversations that I get to share with Twitch viewers in the coming weeks.

Todd Brown


1. Top 5 films seen for the first time at Fantastic Fest 2012
This is a hard one to answer because I saw most of these things long before the festival in the programming process, but five I really love include PLAN C, DANGER 5, HELLFJORD, THE CONSPIRACY and DOM - A RUSSIAN FAMILY. And FUCK UP. More than five, I know, but screw you.

2. Biggest surprises
How willing directors were to get drunk and write about their films on the public record.

3. Biggest disappointments
We had hoped to do a cocktail special with DANGER 5 - those who have seen it can probably work out what that was - that just never came together.

4. Favorite non-film entertainment
The Feud.

5. Single most fantastic moment of the fest
Crushing American Imperialist Ass in The Feud.

Peter Martin


1. Top 5 films seen for the first time at Fantastic Fest 2012
Holy Motors
Black Out
The Conspiracy
Flicker
Lee's Adventure

2. Biggest surprises
Hellfjord
Seven episodes of a Norwegian TV series, totaling more than 3 hours. Consistently engaging and inventive and silly and occasionally gory and just a ton of fun. Ready for Season 2!

Wake in Fright
I expected a very good film, but my expectations were still exceeded. As a bonus, having director Ted Kotcheff present to introduce and answer questions afterwards at extreme length was an unalloyed delight.

3. Biggest disappointments
Here Comes the Devil
Perhaps my exhaustion at the end of the festival kept me from being able to follow the narrative or make much sense of the story, but this feels like a lesser effort than either COLD SWEAT or PENUMBRA.

4. Favorite non-film entertainment
Fantastic Feud.
The entertainment value was very high, exceeded only by my pride factor in the great job by master of ceremonies Scott Weinberg (Twitch Featured Critic) and the victory by the International team, which included team captain Todd Brown (Twitch Founder and Editor), James Marsh (Twitch Asian Editor), and Peter K. (Twich Contributing Writer). Hmm, do I sense a theme here?

5. Single most fantastic moment of the fest
Spending personal time with fellow Twitch-ers made me feel good all over, seeing friends from around the world who I only get to see once or twice a year is always a great pleasure, witnessing drunken directors writing drunken review of their own movies (as well as hearing a dramatic reading of one of them by a certain editor), and snaring the last hardcover copy of Kier-La Janisse's new book House of Psychotic Women all rank very high, but my most fantastic moment of the festival was meeting Barbara Crampton.

Joshua Chaplinsky


1. Top 5 films seen for the first time at Fantastic Fest 2012
Tough one. I don't think I saw one film that made me want to walk out and flip off the screen.
Antiviral - Best Cronenberg film in yonks.
The Conspiracy - Better than any pseudo-doc horror flick has the right to be.
Fuck Up - Doesn't fuck it up. My review says it all.
Wrong - If loving Wrong is wrong, then I don't want to be right.
Docs - So many good docs, I had to cheat. The Final Member, My Amityville Horror, Room 237, American Scream.

2. Biggest surprises
That Eli Roth gave a performance I didn't hate (Aftershock) and that American Mary wasn't as embarrassingly histrionic as the directors were when they introduced it. Seriously, I almost walked out before the movie started. Glad I didn't.

3. Biggest disappointments
That I didn't get into the secret screening of Sightseers.

4. Favorite non-film entertainment
Mexican food.

5. Single most fantastic moment of the fest
Finally getting to meet and greet with some of my fellow Twitch writers. Cool dudes (and lady), all.

James Marsh


1. Top 5 films seen for the first time at Fantastic Fest 2012
This one is a bit tricky for me as I saw about 20 of the films ahead of the festival, including many I was passionate about, but here goes (in no particular order):
Holy Motors
Sightseers
The American Scream
Antiviral
Hellfjord (a TV series, but hey!)

2. Biggest surprises
How wonderfully welcoming everyone in Austin - and particularly those involved in the festival - are, both to me and newcomers. I know this shouldn't surprise me after 3 years, as it is a city and institution populated solely by incredibly talented, warm-hearted, passionate and generous people, but they make me feel so welcome and appreciated each & every time I see them that I can't help but fall in love with them all over again every year.

3. Biggest disappointments
Hardly a disappointment, but I wish I'd somehow managed to see more films than I did this year. I always leave with a to-watch list longer than the one I arrived with, but this year it is longer than ever. Yet again I failed to join any of the BBQ or gun excursions, after promising myself that I would, but honestly it is difficult to be truly disappointed by anything at a festival that is dedicated solely to having fun.

4. Favorite non-film entertainment
While I loved the Faraci v Swanberg debate and the closing North Korean Prison-themed party, in particular the electro-shock torture karaoke (thanks, Devin!), it has to be the Fantastic Feud this year. I made Team International for the first (but hopefully not last) time, and it was insanely good fun.

5. Single most fantastic moment of the fest
Winning the Fantastic Feud and trouncing the US Overlords after 7 years of tyrrany. There is a storm coming, a Red Dawn, a new hope!

Rachel Fox


1. Top 5 films seen for the first time at Fantastic Fest 2012
I wasn't there for the whole time. I'll give you my top four:

I love, love, loved THE AMERICAN SCREAM. I wasn't expecting to get weepy, but I did. Those people make good movies.

A friend of mine made me promise to see DANGER 5, and to be honest I was a bit reluctant to go for some reason... But I am glad I did! I was completely bowled over and haven't laughed that hard since YACHT ROCK. Methinks the woman beside me moved because my laughter was so ridiculously out of control.

COMBAT GIRLS.

I love that I came to Texas and fell in love with a Canadian film I'd never heard of (typical!) - I DECLARE WAR. This will be the best Canadian film of the year, right? Pitch-perfect the whole way through. Like THE BAD NEWS BEARS meets APOCALYPSE NOW by way of the Max Fischer Players.

2. Biggest surprises
My biggest surprise was how welcoming everyone was and how by the end I felt both validated and inspired. I admit to feeling a bit like Jane Goodall at times, thrust into this somewhat foreign environment and not quite 'sure' of everything that was going on around me. It was initially quite intimidating, to be honest, but my own fear and unease melted away almost immediately. That was huge for me. A wonderful experience in that regard.

The film-going culture - ie, the people - in Austin is nothing short of remarkable. It's incredible that a city of that size can sustain three theatres like the Alamo and that there are that many enthusiastic film lovers/consumers. My experience of the social and cultural tone in Austin stands in stark contrast to my own city of Vancouver, which does have a reputation for being 'cold.' I swear, I had more spontaneous conversations with strangers in five days in Austin than I have in five years in Vancouver.

3. Biggest disappointments
Coming from Canada to Texas and missing out on Mexican food and barbecue. I wish I'd had a chance to go for a wander and explore Austin a bit, but alas, my time was consumed elsewhere.

Also, not raising my hand during the AFTERSHOCK Q&A and asking a pointed question to Eli Roth and Nicolas Lopez about the paint-by-numbers, extraneous rape scene in their PoS movie. I regret that.

4. Favorite non-film entertainment
Chatting with complete strangers.

Meeting people who I know 'virtually' from social media or elsewhere and doing a mental 'contrast and compare' in my brain vis-a-vis what they were like vs. what I imagined them to be. Being recognized, and recognizing, people from Twitter.

5. Single most fantastic moment of the fest
The Fantastic Feud was pretty epic. Witnessing the room (as a Canadian!) go from chanting "USA! USA!" to losing brought out my own jingoism, which is pretty darned dormant. I haven't felt that proud or excited to be a Canadian since that time in 2010 when the Canadian men's hockey team trounced USA and won gold and I wandered the streets of my town high-fiving a few hundred thousand people... For reals.

J Hurtado


1. Top 5 films seen for the first time at Fantastic Fest 2012
Holy Motors - More like HOLY SHIT! I had no idea what to expect going in, but I sure as hell got more than I bargained for. Probably my favorite film of the fest, but I couldn't explain why if you paid me.

Tai Chi Zero - I loved this overblown martial arts epic done Scott Pilgrim style. Can't wait to see it and its sequels over and over again!

Combat Girls - I actually saw this on a screener for the festival, but it was still among the top tier of the films playing Fantastic Fest

Danger 5 - This amazing bit of spoofery never failed to smash my funny bone to bits.

Miami Connection - The combination of a great crowd and a great film are always a match made in heaven. This film won't land with everyone, but the people I saw it with sure enjoyed it!

2. Biggest surprises
Even though this was my second year, I'm always surprised at how welcoming everyone is. Fantastic Fest feels like a giant hug for nerds.

3. Biggest disappointments
Sadly I left Berberian Sound Studio not feeling what I'd hoped to be feeling, which was admiration. Sure, they knew their subject matter, but it was too non-linear for me to really enjoy. Maybe a second viewing is in order.

4. Favorite non-film entertainment
I'm not much of a social butterfly, so just sitting on the patio at the Alamo South Lamar between screenings and chatting with the other geeks was really enjoyable.

5. Single most fantastic moment of the fest
Seeing the reunited Dragon Sound perform at the Highball was pretty amazing.

Ryland Aldrich


1. Top 5 films seen for the first time at Fantastic Fest 2012
1. Holy Motors
2. Dom - A Russian Family
3. Unit 7
4. Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman
5. The Final Member

2. Biggest surprises
I was pretty surprised by the experience of watching The Shining forwards and backwards (at the same time). I have a lot to say about it, but it's a fascinating way to watch a film. Essentially you get to watch it twice in the same running time. And no, I don't think Kubrick intended anyone to watch it that way.

3. Biggest disappointments
I had a few disappointments in the program this year. I wish there had been a few more films that I truly fell in love with. Films that didn't work for me at all were Frankenweenie, Graceland, and Here Comes the Devil.

4. Favorite non-film entertainment
The most entertaining official non-film event had to be this year's debates - specifically the undercard bouts, but I'm going to save that for the next question and give a shout out to the closing night party. It was too cool seeing Future Folk rock the lawn and the shock-treatment-karaoke was a blast. This didn't have quite the bouncey castle excitement of last year, but it was still an awesome way to end the fest. I will always stay 'til the closing night.

5. Single most fantastic moment of the fest
This is always a really tough question because of all the drunken fun that goes on over the week in Austin. My vote has to go to the debates. While the hard hitting Soska sisters were awesome, the single most fantastic moment had to be the best debate ever: Devin Faraci vs. Joe Swanberg. The argument portion of that debate was hard hitting, but the fight was almost too brutal. I can't wait to see who Swanberg takes on next year.

Around the Internet:
  • mightyjoeyoung

    "Now pass the Advil."
    Yeah....you guys have too much fun on these festivals.
    Thanks for the wrap up.

  • Fantastic films, fantastic food, fantastic people. Amazed at the amount of insightful content my fellow Twitchers have churned out. Honored to contribute.

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