1998 marked the first year that then‐Fangoria editor Tony Timpone came on board as a key member of the Fantasia programming team (a position he continues to this day), joining the team of Pierre Corbeil, Mitch Davis, Andre Dubois, Julien Fonfrede, Karim Hussain, Martin Sauvageau and associate programmer Hiromi Aihara.
A key highlight of the International lineup was a spotlight on the new wave of Spanish genre cinema, with North American Premieres of Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s Airbag, 99.9 (hosted by director Agustin Villaronga), Dame Algo (hosted by director Héctor Carré) and the world premiere of Nacho Cerda’s wildly anticipated follow‐up to Aftermath – Genesis (hosted by Cerda).
Canadian premieres in the International section included Darren Aronofsky’s Pi (which marked the first time that a film by Aronofsky was screened in Canada), Larry Fessenden’s Habit (hosted by the director – the first of his many visits to the festival), Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s riotous Cannibal the Musical, Martin Walz’ Killer Condom (featuring FX by German underground legend Jorg Buttgereit), Steve Wang’s Drive (with the director present) and Progeny with director Brian Yuzna and actress Jillian McWhirter in person to present this, as well as the World Premiere of Yuzna’s film The Dentist 2. Director Don Coscarelli and cult icon Angus Scrimm graced the stage of the Imperial to host the World Premiere of Phantasm: Oblivion.
Mulcahy hosted the North American premiere of Talos the Mummy (later retitled as Tales of the Mummy), Pupi Avati’s Arcane Enchanter made its first appearance on North American soil, and the mighty John Carpenter himself appeared as guest of honour, closing out the festival with the North American Premiere of his film Vampires.
Fantasia alumni Jim Van Bebber and Richard Stanley returned to present their personal prints of Deadbeat at Dawn and the director’s cut of Hardware, respectively, capping an incredible selection of retro screenings that included Hammer’s archival print of The Devil Rides Out (hosted by Bill Lustig), Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, Gerald Kargl’s incredible Angst, Mario Bava’s Rabid Dogs, Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery and a rare 35mm print of the director’s cut of Street Trash (hosted by Roy Frumkes, and preceded with the original 16mm short film version of the film), not to mention rowdy midnight screenings of Hercule Contre les Vampires and Santo et le Tresor de Dracula. Standout short films included Allessandro Ingargiola’s The Two Red Dolls, Douglas Buck’s Home (hosted by Buck) and Jim Van Bebber’s Roadkill: The Last Days of John Martin.
On the made‐in‐Canada front, Maurice Devereaux appeared with his cast to present the years‐ in‐the‐making Lady of the Lake, and Toronto‐based filmmaker Julian Grant hosted the World Premiere of his film Airborne. Grant would have a multi‐faceted role in this year’s edition of the festival: In 1998 Fantasia held a satellite event Toronto, at the Bloor cinema, sharing several films and guests with the Montreal edition. Julian Grant (Electra, Fantasia 1997) initiated the idea, and enlisted the help of Colin Geddes, the well known promoter of Hong Kong cinema in Toronto (and now Midnight Madness programmer at TIFF) to coordinate logistics related to the event. Programmers Mitch Davis and Karim Hussain making regular trips with guests between the two cities during the month‐long festival. Fantasia Toronto was very well attended, with an audience of 35,000 spectators – but ultimately running two simultaneous events proved too much of a strain on existing resources for the initiative to continue.
On the Asian front, Fantasia hosted its first‐ever Korean film – Je‐gyu Kang’s The Gingko Bed – as well as two new anime features based on Osamu Tezuka’s famous mangas Blackjack and Jungle Emperor Leo, Shunji Iwai came in to host the North American premiere of Swallowtail Butterfly and Takashi Ishii appeared in person to host a triptych of special screenings: the Montreal premiere of Gonin, the Canadian premiere of Gonin 2, and the North American premiere of Black Angel. One of the more sobering and memorable screenings of this year’s edition saw Chinese director T.F. Mous appear in person to present his infamous 1988 film Men Behind the Sun.
As usual, the Hong Kong section was packed to the gills with now‐essential Eastern cinema: the then‐unknown Wong Kar‐Wai’s As Tears Go By; Stanley Kwan’s Rouge (produced by Jackie Chan); two of John Woo’s most famous films, Hard Boiled and the mythical long version of The Killer (presented for the first time outside Asia); a Jet Li quadruple‐bill featuring The Hitman, The Kung Fu Cult Master, Martial Arts of Shaolin and Born to Defence; Stephen Chow’s Lawyer Lawyer and The Magnificent Scoundrels; Ringo Lam’s Full Alert (starring HK giant Lau Ching‐ Wan); Naked Killer and Run and Kill (two of the most notorious category III films ever produced in Hong Kong); and additional martial arts classics including the restored 25th a nniversary print of Enter the Dragon, Eastern Condors, Sammo Hung’s Encounter of the Spooky Kind and Prodigal Son, and Wang Yu’s Master of the Flying Guillotine. From Johnnie To and Wai‐Ka‐Fai’s Milky Way production company came The Odd One Dies, The Longest Night and Intruder, while HK martial arts maestro Chiu Man Cheuk hosted a special screening of Tsui Hark’s The Blade as well as the North American Premiere of The Black Sheep Affair (wowing the audience with a kung fu demo onstage before the film!)