The 2004 edition of Fantasia returned to Concordia’s Hall and the JA De Sève Theaters from the 8th of July to the 1st of August. Over 78,000 spectators attended the event breaking the previous record of 75,000. One of the most remarkable features of the 2004 edition was Komikstok, a special spotlight on films based on comic books and manga.
Several movies formed that spotlight including Arzak Rhapsody, an animated feature film directed by and based on the works of French comic book author Jean Giraud (better known as the legendary Moebius). Blueberry (North‐American Premiere) was another film based on a Moebius comic book series directed by Yan Kounen and starring Vincent Cassel. Enki Bilal directed Immortel based on his Nikopol trilogy of sci‐fi graphic novels (La Foire aux Immortels, La Femme Piège and Froid Équateur). We screened the animated film Corto Maltese: La Cour Secrète Des Arcanes from Italian author Hugo Pratt’s comic book series, alongside the Spanish big budget live‐action adventure Mortadelo & Filemon (also spawned from a successful comic book series), and a trio of amazing feature films from Japan: Azumi, based on a manga from Yu Koyama and directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, Battlefield Baseball directed by Yudai Yamaguchi from a manga called ‘’Hell Stadium’’, and a live‐action adaptation of Cutie Honey (International Premiere) based on a classic manga by Go Nagai (the latter was directed by Hideaki Anno who also helmed one of the most respected and successful anime series, Neon Genesis Evangelion). We also screened the rare 1967 animated feature film Band of Ninja, based on the manga Ninja Bugeicho and directed by Nagisa Oshima (In the Realm of the Senses).
Another spotlight focused on Thai cinema, including screenings of The Bodyguard (Canadian Premiere), The North American Premieres of Bupparahtree, The Macabre Case of Prompiram, Omen, the Canadian Premieres of Saving Private Tootsie and Heaven’s Seven, and the Montreal Premieres of The Tesseract and Pen‐Ek Ratanaruang’s gorgeous Last Life in the Universe.
From Japan, Fantasia presented three feature films from the ever‐prolific director Takashi Miike – the yakuza films Deadly Outlaw Rekka and Gozu and the North American Premiere of teen J‐ Horror film One Missed Call. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Doppleganger had its Canadian Premiere, while the International Premiere of Hiroki Yamaguchi’s The Bottled Fool (aka Gusher no binds me) was attended by the filmmakers and key cast, and was acquired by Media Blasters within days of this screening (who released it as Hellavator)! The festival also hosted Toshiaki Toyoda’s 9 Souls and Blue Spring, Blessing Bell from Sabu, Takashi Shimizu’s Ju‐On:The Grudge, and an impressive selection of anime features from some of the genre’s masters: Porco Rosso from Hayao Miyazaki, Angel’s Egg from Mamoru Oshii, the North American Premiere of Paranoia Agent and Tokyo Godfathers From Satoshi Kon.
Minoru Kawasaki appeared in person to present the International Premiere of The Calamari Wrestler, which would mark the first time his work would be screened outside of Japan. He has since gone on to great acclaim with films like Executive Koala, The World Sinks Except Japan, Rug Cop and more – but it all started at Fantasia with this screening!
From South Korea came the powerful and touching Failan, Bong Joon‐ho’s Memories of Murder, Into The Mirror (remade in 2008 by Alexandre Aja as Mirrors), Save The Green Planet, Jailbreakers, A Tale of Two Sisters and The Uninvited, while Hong‐Kong offerings included15 Johnnie To and Wai Ka‐Fai’s Running on Karma and four restored prints of the classic Shaw Brothers films 8th Diagram Pole Fighter, Executioners From Shaolin, Golden Swallow and Return To The 36th Chamber.
The international section featured a tribute to genre icon Paul Naschy, who came to present two of his classic films, Dracula’s Great Love and The Werewolf Vs The Vampire Women along with the new film Rojo Sangre, which had its International Premiere with young director Christian Molina in person alongside his star. Other notable guests who presented their films in person included actor Udo Kier for both the Canadian premiere of Veit Helmer’s Gate to Heaven and Jeff Renfroe and Marteinn Thorsson’s One Point Zero, actress Emily Perkins and producer Paula Devonshire for the World Premiere of Ginger Snaps: The Beginning, Danish cult actor Kim Bodnia with the North American premiere of The Good Cop, famous independent animator Bill Plympton presented 50s sock‐hop horror Hair High, Eugenio Mira came in with the International premiere of The Birthday, future Masters of Horror creator Mick Garris appeared with the World Premiere of Riding the Bullet, screenwriter James Handel presented the Canadian Premiere of Julian Richards’ The Last Horror Movie, Sheldon Wilson and much of his cast and crew came in for the Canadian Premiere of Shallow Ground, Chris Fisher hosted the Canadian Premiere of Hillside Strangler, accompanied by the film’s star, actress Brittany Daniel, Lynne Margulies presented the special event Confrontation Act : Andy Kaufman’s Bizarre Journey into Pro Wrestling (which included extensive spoken word and screenings of I’m From Hollywood and My Breakfast With Blassie), Wenzel Storch came to present the International Premiere of his bizarre Journey Into Bliss, and Chris D, esteemed Japanese film historian, American Cinematheque programmer and vocalist for the seminal L.A. punk band The Flesh‐Eaters, came to town to present the Canadian Premiere of his directorial feature debut, I Pass For Human. Several films from old and new masters of genre cinema were presented, among them Alexandre Aja’s Haute Tension, The North American Premiere of Dario Argento’s The Card Player, Vincenzo Natali’s Nothing and the Canadian premiere of Tobe Hooper’s Toolbox Murders.
Fantasia 2004 also saw the North American premieres of Michael Davis’ Monster Man, Christian James’ Freak Out, Paco Plaza’s Romasanta and Oscar Albar’s Flying Saucers, the Montreal Premiere of Laura Mana’s Killing Words and Richard Sandler’s Gods of Times Square – the latter being one of the first non‐genre‐related documentaries to screen at Fantasia and the inspiration for what is now the popular Documentaries From the Edge section.
From Quebec, Fantasia hosted the World Premiere of Melantha Blackthorne and Jason Cavalier’s Sinners & Saints, the North American Premiere of Remy M. Laroechelle’s Macanix, the North American Premiere of Christian Viel’s Recon 2020, and Canadian director Lee Demarbre came in for the Montreal Premiere of his film Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace. The Man Who Saved The World (aka The Turkish Star Wars) is among the most notorious psychotronic films, and received an enthusiastic response from a sold‐out crowd of 700 spectators who were shaking their heads in disbelief and holding their bellies from having laughed so hard. Audiences also enjoyed a very rare 16mm print of Curt McDowell’s underground classic Thundercrack! (the only uncut print of the film that exists in the world!) and a rare print of the complete Frankenstein: The True Story, starring late Quebec actor Michael Sarrazin and presented by Le Cineclub/The Film Society.
Short film highlights included the World Premiere of Rick Trembles’ Goopy Spasms, the North American Premieres of Robert Morgan’s extraordinary stop‐motion masterpiece The Separation, Hélè ne Cattet & Bruno Forzani’s La Fin de notre amour, Douglas Buck’s Prologue, Miguel Ángel Vivas’ I‘ll See You in my Dreams and Mariano Baino’s Never Ever After, the Canadian Premieres of Screaming Mad George’s Boy in the Box and Daniel Greaves’ Little Things, as well as Al Kratina’s Crimson, Anouk Whissel’s Itsy Bitsy Spider, Pat Tremblay’s Ritualis, Izabel Grondin’s Les Drujes and Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s La Bouche de Jean‐Pierre.