Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

fear and loathing in las vegas

“Wait! We can’t stop here! This is bat country!”

The Scoop: 1998 R, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, and Tobey Maguire

Tagline: Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Summary Capsule: Two guys hightail it to Vegas for a week of insane drug use.


Justin’s rating: What’s that behind you! (sneaking out of giving a rating)

Justin’s review: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a crazy and somewhat pointless trip with two guys, Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), who go to Las Vegas and consume massive amounts of illegal drugs. It’s like The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Drug Use, if you ever needed such a thing, which I hope you don’t. The end result? They fry their minds beyond human comprehension.

Okay, I’m really not all for drugs, but the raw edge of humor in this movie is so sharp you could shave with it. I loved pretty much every second of it. It got pretty long towards the end, but when Depp awoke in his hotel room (which was covered with green water) with a lizard tail strapped to his hiney, I was hooked again.

Supposedly, Fear and Loathing is about the death of the American Dream, something that I thought fell under the purview of The Great Gatsby, which I had to read a dozen times between high school and college. Doesn’t it stink? It’s like the Waterworld of books. Please inform your teachers, so they’ll stop making kids read it! I think the film does a good job of doing whatever it wants to do, and I also don’t think too many people will see it. Shame.

Toni’s rating: Two midgets and an eel.

Toni’s review: What. The. Hell.

I’m finding it hard to review this movie because I don’t know which way I want to see it.

During my first viewing, I found the movie insanely funny and spent the better part of an hour (I came in late) engrossed in the film trying to figure out what the hell was going on. It really is quite funny, with the requisite weird camera angles indicating ‘drugged up’ and enough really odd crap to keep you going even if you’re not paying attention to the plot. Like the scenes in the really tacky circus/casino. Duke and Gonzo are high on…uh…something they sniffed from a mini US flag and Dr. Gonzo can’t quite make it off the spinning merry-go-round bar. It’s just plain fun and I would recommend Fear and Loathing just for the humor.

But then I went and saw it for a second time (I had a free rental coming and I missed the beginning). I don’t know if it was my mood or the fact that I watched it alone, but my second viewing felt altogether different. It was still funny, but in a more wistful, sad kinda way. I think I was seeing the deeper elements this time, all that stuff about the loss of the American Dream and that awful crash of reality you get after a nice long youth. But then I start feeling like a culture mooch because I missed the sixties by a decade or two and hell, I’m not even American. Yeah, I’m being confusing but I still haven’t figured out how I felt about View #2. I know I enjoyed it but I don’t think I’ll watch it again, though the book is a definite possibility.

SO I guess all I’m saying is…watch it once. And feel free to tell me what you thought. Please.

"Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us..."
“Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us…”


  • You can see author Hunter S. Thompson at the Jefferson Airplane show. Vinnie also said he was the guy in the bar wearing a green visor.
  • Fear and Loathing was directed by Monty Python animation master Terry Gilliam, who is a master of bringing the surreal and bizarre to film. (His former projects included Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and Time Bandits.) Fear and Loathing also has numerous cameos, including Penn Gilette (of Penn and Teller) as a carnival barker, Cameron Diaz as a reporter, and Christina Ricci as Lucy, the wierd painter kid.

Groovy Quotes:

Duke: There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

Duke [tripping on acid]: Wait! We can’t stop here! This is bat country!

Duke: We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. But the only thing that worried me was the ether. There is nothing more irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge, and I knew we would be getting into that rotten stuff sooner or later.

Gonzo: [to a hitchhiker] We’re your friends. We’re not like the others, man, really.
Duke: No more of that talk or I’ll put the leeches on ya, understand?

[Gonzo and Duke among the DA’s at the convention]
Gonzo: I saw these bastards in Easy Rider, but I didn’t believe they were real. Not like this, man, not hundreds of them.
Duke: They’re actually pretty nice people once you get to know them.
Gonzo: Know them? I know these people in my damn blood.
Duke: Don’t say that word around here. You’ll get them excited.

Gonzo: Did you see what God just did to us, man?

Duke: Order some golf shoes, otherwise we’ll never get outta this place alive..

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Trainspotting
  • Tideland
  • The Rum Diary

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