By Brian Fee
Transient

As the celluloid dust settles over Austin, and my liver relaxes to normal functionality, I bid Fantastic Fest 2012 adieu. Funny how a succession of 16-hour moviegoing days can fly by so quickly.

Here's the catch-22: solid screening schedules subtract from meet-and-greets with the hyper-creative international community, and the parties are sometimes as dope as the films they celebrate. I spent much of opening night plotting out 15 minutes to catch up with Team Tokyo, but due to massive red carpet premieres, I didn't find a free moment until night two.

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“In my role, well...I'm not wearing this corset, for example. And I'm covered in blood. I think you'll love it.” — Je$$ica (star of “Z is for Zetsumetsu” in The ABC's of Death; my translation)

Besides the usual suspects, I befriended (i.e. became totally enamored with) platinum-coiffed jo-ō-sama Je$$ica, seductive starlet of Yoshihiro Nishimura's contribution to The ABC's of Death. We run in similar circles in that neon metropolis, so I'll definitely look her up when I return in November.

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“I really want to split her lip. That's kinda my goal, so everyone can see the shame on her face at how pathetic she was in the ring against me.” — Sylvia Soska (co-director of American Mary, on her twin, co-director Jen, at the Fantastic Debates)

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At the Fantastic Fest 2012 Awards, pint-sized powerhouse Rina Takeda nabbed “Best Actress” in the Gutbusters category for Dead Sushi. Only at Fantastic Fest can a film about carnivorous raw fish be considered a comedy. The Fantastic Debates began with discussion — like Twisted TwinsJen and Sylvia Soska, arguing pro and contra remaking films — and concluded with boxing! A shining moment at Chaos Reigns Karaoke wasHere Comes the Devil's Laura Caro channeling her inner Whitney in a room-scorching serenade of “I Will Always Love You.”

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“Watching yourself die onscreen is a weird, strangely satisfying thing.” — Eli Roth (co-writer, producer, and star of Aftershock)

Latin America brought the heat. Mexico's Here Comes the Devil joined Sao Paulo-based fever-dream Two Rabbits and two Chilean films — Bring Me the Head of Machine Gun Woman (I'm convinced Fernanda Urrejola's bikini'ed badass heralds my ideal woman) and Aftershock (the seismic lurch from party flick to natural disaster terror totally worked) — as personal favorites. Though I gotta give the top spot to France and Holy Motors, infused with an irresistible cinematic je ne sais quoi. New York: this screens on October 11 at the NYFF, and I encourage cineastes to not miss it.

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All told, I surmounted successfully 26 films, beating last year's record — barely. See, there's another double-F-bomb related to this festival: the “Fantastic Flu.” The combination of dry Central Texas heat and icebox theaters, surrounded by hundreds of film geeks, plus the extra-late hours and torrents of beer, equals a cinematically proportioned common cold. I left my flat in the morning only after coking up on green tea and vitamin C.

And now, I wade back to normality by returning to NYC for work. I may even catch some of NYFF while I'm in town, if I can will myself to sit in a theater.

Images: Main image and non-film-still images courtesy the author; ABC's of Death still via Monster Pictures; all other film stills via Fantastic Fest; Fantastic Debates boxing via David Hill/Fantastic Fest