Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Written by: Alex Cox, Hunter S. Thompson, Terry Gilliam, Tod Davies, Tony Grisoni
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci, Ellen Barkin, Flea, Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton, Johnny Depp, Michael Jeter, Tobey Maguire
Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas
Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas is the tale of journalist, Raoul Duke and his Samoan attorney, Dr Gonzo (a thinly disguised Hunter S Thompson and his friend Oscar Zeta Acosta), who take up the opportunity of covering the Mint 400 race in Las Vegas, whilst intoxicating themselves on a vast amount of drugs and liquor, in search of the American Dream.
Directed by Terry Gilliam, who is no stranger to weird and strange movies, this film is a perfect visual to Hunter S. Thompson’s book of the same name. We follow Raoul Duke in the Polo Lounge at the Beverely Hills hotel, patio section of course, drinking singapore slings with mescal on the side. The madness starts here as he is brought a pink telephone by a dwarf, who he then in return throws a load of coins at. I’m quite a fan of HST, and noticed his love of dwarfs as they also feature in the other HST based film, Where The Buffalo Roam, featuring Bill Murray as Hunter. He is offered the job to cover the Mint 400 in Vegas so Raoul hooks up with his attorney, Dr Gonzo, as they rent a apple red convertible and hit the road to Vegas.
Duke and Gonzo pick up a hitch-hiker in the form of a long haired but balding Tobey Maguire, who is so freaked out by Duke and Gonzo, who are tripping on the suitcase of pharmeceuticals they’ve ingested, that he makes a dash for it. Duke and Gonzo arrive at the Flamingo Hotel where they have to wait for their room. Duke starts to hallucinate, imagining the receptionist morphing into a lizard, the carpet moving, and trips through the bar lounge which he describes as a ‘reptile zoo (perfectly depicted with a visual of a room full of lizards having sex with each other, showing the state of Duke’s mind). He finally settles down and covers the race a few days later, but the scene in the Lizard Lounge was just the beginning of Duke and Gonzo’s search of the American dream.
This is a classic drug film, full of wit, fantastic one-liners and a whole host of big names. Johnny Depp plays Raoul Duke to perfection, after having spent several months with Hunter S. Thompson previous to filming, even borrowing some of HST’s clothes from that era. Benicio Del Toro is equally as impressive as Dr Gonzo, and gained a lot of weight to fill the role as the drug addled, knife wielding attorney. Other big name stars have cameos in the film such as Cameron Diaz as a sexy reporter who interviews Duke and Gonzo in an elevator, Christina Ricci as the helpless teenager Lucy, Gary Busey as a pig traffic cop, Ellen Barkin as a tired, dishevelled diner waitress, Michael Jeter as narcotics expert and probable drug user, Dr L.Ron Bumquist (“A dope fiend refers to the reefer butt as a roach, because, it resembles a cockroach.”), Flea from rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers and even the author HST himself!
Duke and Gonzo find themselves in all sorts of mayhem. Turning up late for a Debbie Reynolds show, bribing and convincing the worker to let them in then being thrown out of the show due to them both laughing hysterically whilst high on ether. Aaaah, devil ether. It makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel.
At one stage, Dr Gonzo picks up a Jesus worshipping teenage girl called Lucy (Christina Ricci), who he meets on the plane. He gives her a tab of acid and takes her back to his hotel room. Duke returns and is attacked by her upon entering the room, where he discovers what depravaties Gonzo has gotten himself into. Lucy paints pictures of Barbra Streisand and Gonzo intended on joining her to meet Barbra backstage at the Americana Hotel, before Duke steps in and suggests they get rid of her before Gonzo gets done for rape.
All this coupled with bunny hops off a rotating carousel bar, buying apes, threatening diner waitresses and attending police narcotics conventions whilst high on drugs, this film never stops for a breather.
The film is a real weird and strange cult film which stays very loyal to the book. The visuals are amazing, and the story is well panned out. You follow these two guys through their trip and release your going through a trip as well as they are. It’s a ticket worth buying and i highly recommend you take this unstoppable ride.
[pt-filmtitle]Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas[/pt-filmtitle]