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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

This is a movie where Ichabod from Sleepy Hollow teams up with a fat Mexican dude named Benicio Del Toro, and these two drive to Las Vegas on 700 different types of drugs to cover a motorcycle race for a magazine. I believe Bill Murray played this same Ichabod character back in the ’80s based on the real guy, Hunter S. Thompson who wrote the book.

Now as you know I’m sober as the Pope during Lent, but I can still appreciate a good drug movie at least as long as it’s this good. The filmatist behind this one, Terry Gilliam, creates a nightmare Las Vegas world where hallucinations of dripping floors and cocktail drinking lizards and nippled buffaloes becomes reality. And the real trip is in the last act of the picture when suddenly Ichabod wakes up in the most trashed hotel room of all time – it looks like a junkyard on top of a lagoon – and tries to remember what happened. All the sudden he has an alligator tail and he’s dictating to a tape recorder duct taped to his mouth. I mean I think we can all relate to that type of morning in my opinion.

Fear and Loathing in Las VegasThe reason this picture works is because of the two actors, Ichabod and Benicio, who are both funny and crazy but likable. Well, at least Ichabod is likable. My favorite scene is when Benicio pulls a knife on some people in an elevator and later declares that the woman fell in love with him, he could tell by the eye contact. “It’s serious, man.” I mean these are two crazy motherfuckers, you can’t believe the shit they are doing, and it seems like they just don’t know how to be any other way. I like the part where Ichabod walks into a police convention and the movie does an x-ray number on his suitcase to remind us that it is filled with every illegal drug ever invented.

But I guess what I really liked about this one is the spirit behind this guy trying to cover a motorcycle race in true Outlaw fashion. I mean this motherfucker is not looking for the same thing the other reporters are. He doesn’t even know shit about the bikes and he doesn’t watch much of the race, all he knows for sure is that it started. He puts himself into the story and tries to learn something about people and American culture and how the times are a changin and what not. In other words if this dude was a film critic he would NOT be allowed in the OFCS.

I admire anyone who wants to approach something from a new angle and comes out with a halfway decent product. And this book the dude wrote is an American classic thank you very much.

This is the end of the review now sorry

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 1st, 1999 at 6:27 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Drama, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

48 Responses to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”

  1. This review is not so good meester Vern. Fear and Loathing is my 3rd favourite movie of all time and, snakes in the carpet slightly too hokey aside, by far the most accurate acid representation too (there was a time I was pounding 20 trips a month…man good times, but don’t do drugs kids k thx bye).

    Quick aside, I remember reading my favourite person Manson (Marilyn) was at a party and Thompson was doing a reading from his book for him, Depp, Rourke and Del Toro and I thought fuck me – undoubtedly the coolest room in the history of rooms, readings, and parties. Risked critical cool mass or something surely. Challenge anyone to name a gathering of 5 people who are cooler than this group.

    Man, I think you owe it to yourself to rewatch this film and if you ever do, scrap this half-arse review and share some of that lateral insight you got. Okay, you got benefit of personal laughs and mebbe dun needa share, but dun got my moneys worth from this one.

    Hmm.. mebbe you got point…mebbe there is not enough going on for people not interested in drugs. At least you could talk about the chick though. There’s some really fucking nasty stuff going on there.

    Fuck people, and fuck this review.
    Ta for other stuff though, I dun wanna be an asshole or anything. Just saying fuck you.

  2. As you can tell by the references I wrote that one in ’99 or so when I was new at this. I’ve seen the movie at least a couple times since then, but not recently. So you’re right, next time I watch it I should write a better review.

  3. Vern, don’t take any guff from these swine!

  4. That’s a very diplomatic reply, Vern.

    More diplomatic than it deserves.

  5. Well, all three of you motherfuckers needa follow this link here and have a read:
    http://outlawvern.com/1999/10/11/fight-club/

    It’s some pretty sharp stuff, written by a guy you mighta heard of. Five star review, and written in 99 too, I think mebbe even before Fear & Loathing review so no excuses cryin about being new Vern.

    Gwai Lo, mebbe watch the movie and read the review both huh. Specially the take home messages about letting the shit slide. Here’s a quote too:
    “We as Humans tend to get too upset over things that really don’t matter. so what if you dented your car, forgot to watch felicity, caught having sex with underage girl, whatever. Life goes on. next time i’m pissed off ’cause some motherfucker won’t get me a job or looks at me wrong, i will remember that scene and it will put things in perspective. and some motherfucker will keep his ass.”

    M. Casey, I think you missed the tag line about telling it like it is. Dun say telling it gentle so as to not hurt no fa.. pussy’s feelings. I can understand how that would happen with Vern’s balls blocking your sight and all, but if you shift em to the side and mebbe read the review above you mebbe get a better sense of your surroundings.

  6. I thought you’d recognize my quote from your 3rd favorite movie there. Maybe you were too busy angrying up the blood?

  7. lol. nice. I’m an idiot. I had a niggling feeling but aye, was too keen to pick a fight to pay attention. Fuck you anyway.

  8. “lol. nice. I’m an idiot. I had a niggling feeling but aye, was too keen to pick a fight to pay attention. Fuck you anyway.”

    dads been drinking again……

  9. Goldy,

    I think you have a misconception about what “telling it like it is” is. You seem to think it is flailing around saying stupid things in the manner of an asshole. But it isn’t that.

    My advice is to put down the bottle and try to be a better human being.

  10. I love people who think everyone hates them because they’re “too real.”

  11. What’s a “ta”?

  12. Your ladies auxiliary meeting aside, this was still not a good review. Vern’s custom panache is still there of course, but not so much the humorous insight that makes you consider a new angle. Laughs are good and there’s still a few, but there’s not much to it. I prolly wouldn’t have commented if I knew it was written in 1999 to be honest, but I didn’t/don’t see the date. Sleepy Hollow references and the like are not neccessarily out of place in a Vern review – the opposite, they frequently contribute to the charm.

    Immediately prior I also read this “By the way if you want to help me improve my Writing please e-mail me and tell me what you think. If not then fuck you jack.” so I figure np bud, and fuck you too (in a jovial sort of way rather than some homoerotic thing like you guys got goin).

    Also I figure mebbe some of these reviews can use some comments and another shot round the office. I said why I liked this movie and dun like this review. I didn’t deconstruct the review or nuthin as it was obviously half-arsed – by comparison to a Vern review I mean, not by comparison to say randomly clicking reviews for this film on RT. But then if it was I wouldn’t be reading. Verns built enough credit that the dodgy reviews can slide, unless mebbe he takes up drinking again and does his reviews that way… then mebbe I will be the only reader given the prevalent sensibilities.

  13. Oh, I see. You came into a man’s home and insulted him and his guests for his own benefit. Vern’s writing is sure to improve thanks to constructive criticism like “This review is not very good.” If only there were more real men like you in this world, there wouldn’t be so many gaylords like us running around treating each other with respect.

    By the way, just so you know, no one around here considers being called gay an insult. If we were still in junior high you would totally own us, though.

  14. Majestyk, leave him alone. There’s no point, really no point. I get the desire to jump in and smack and the dope but there’s no way in hell he’s going to pay attention so why feed into it? Just let him rant and rave about whatever bullshit he wants and let the rest of us enjoy this place. That’s one asshole againt a couple dozen of reasonable, intelligent, well-spoken individuals that enjoy having debates with fellow film lovers.

    Don’t stare into the abyss Majestyk, it stares right back

  15. I know you’re right. I shouldn’t have let myself get dragged in. The guy’s just infuriating, you know? He brings out the worst in everybody.

  16. It’s the Zodiac syndrome, you know? You know you shouldn’t but…you…just…can’t…stay…away. I wouldn’t put to much thought into it, pal.

    Here’s a new topic: For years I’ve sort of rejected early to mid-90’s cinema. It just seemed like such a dead zone for the genres I loved like horror and action and sci-fi, and the ‘normal’ stuff just had a really flat, TV look. But recently, I re-watched Glengarry Glenn Ross for the first time in a while, and I saw that movie Fearless with Jeff Daniels, and remembered the Fisher King, and holy shit, I totally underestimated the 90’s.

  17. Jeff Bridges, I think.

    MILLER’S CROSSING, RESERVOIR DOGS, BAD LIEUTENANT, CANDYMAN…

  18. And despite 2 days of this review on the front page no-one’s gonna actually discuss this review or this movie. Yeah sure, intelligent debating is exactly what fills these comment pages. Granted every now and then someone posts a comment worth reading, usually a nice nugget of history or a correlate rather than insight, maybe 1 in 20. It’s a pretty harsh contrast. You got this heavily stylised ex-hard cunt witty lefty softy with attitude, and you read that, and then you are hit by this tidal wave of banality. I hate you guys – it’s like if my Seagology book was 2nd hand and had little shit-stains on every page, annoying underlines and stupid highlighting. I was so happy when Faraci’s comments section was removed. It’s stupid to get worked up over mediocrity, but I fucking hate people speaking when they got nuthin to say. One of my favourite movie characters is the black dude in Van Damme’s In Hell with the pliers.

    Meh, mebbe I’m wrong. I’ll tell you what, I’ll quantify it and shut the fuck up if the stats say I am being too harsh.

  19. The stats say you are a soft cunt. As in slack. As in Fuck You (non-jovial).

    At least, that’s what they would say if this message board wasn’t a fun, positive place to hang out. As opposed to the pseudo-hardass-banter/nonconstructive-review-criticism-club you seem to expect or desire.

    But obviously that’s the problem with statistics, you can make them say whatever you want…

  20. AU, your presence pretty much guarantees that there won’t be any interesting discussions going on because all anybody will be talking about is what a twat you are.

  21. Dammit, I fell off the wagon. Brendon, will you be my sponsor?

  22. Start spelling my name right and we’ll talk about it.

  23. Majestyk – You don’t need a sponsor, Armageddon does. I think it may be time to revive Vern’s Adopt a Talkbacker program. This behavior is clearly a cry for attention and maybe, just maybe, for love.

    I am willing to accept this responsibility. AU Armageddon, if you’ll accept me as your sponsor I will take the time to give you a crash course in basic logic, spelling, sentence structure, and social etiquette. I’ll whip you into shape just like My Fair Lady. You’ll be drinking tea with your pinky out and everything. What do you say, sport?

  24. All right guys! Our first flame war!

  25. Harker – Great call back to one of the things that made me a Vern fan in the first place – the complete, and totally positive, handling of TB arseholes. I wish I had that skill. Well done.

  26. AU – I honestly agree with you that this could be a better review, so I don’t have a problem with that criticism. But don’t go insulting everybody here, that’s just stupid. If all the comments are so terrible then just don’t read them and don’t add to them. I would rather you stick around but if it’s just gonna be this endless circle of insulting everybody and saying that you’re the only one here who knows what’s what I don’t see how that’s worth our time or yours. Remember, the one rule is “don’t be a dick.”

    Anyway the Fight Club review could be better too I think.

    But thanks for commenting on the old reviews, I like that. I gotta watch this one again, it’s been a while. It gets better every time I watch it, too.

  27. The first time I watched Fear and Loathing it made me nauseous. I was watching TV and saw it was on, so I flipped to it. Twenty minutes later I turned it off because I thought I was going to puke (fucking andremochrone). I finally watched the whole thing a little while later, and now I really love this movie and frequently re-watch. But, like, still. Andremochrone. Not fun.

  28. AU is right about one thing: Fear and Loathing does have the best and most realistic acid sequence ever. The part where the carpet moves is dead-on.

  29. This is one of those movies that is also almost line-for-line and scene-for-scene lifted straight out of the book. In fact other than a chapter where Hunter and his lawyer get into a heated argument with some lady in a fast-food drive thru I’m pretty sure it’s perfectly faithful. Good job Terry Gilliam.

    I always heard that Depp and Del Toro were interested in a sequel but I’m not holding my breath now that Thompson’s dead.

  30. Majestyk,

    And Gilliam says he’s never taken acid, which makes it all the more impressive. (Or makes Gilliam all the more the liar.)

  31. Brendan – I made an incomplete list from 1990-1995…

    Brain Dead 1992
    Cape Fear 1991
    Carlito’s Way 1993
    Casino 1995
    Cronos 1993
    The Crow 1994
    Darkman 1990
    Days of Thunder 1990
    Demolition Man 1993
    Desperado 1995
    Demon Night 1995
    Die Hard 2 1990
    Die Hard With A Vengeance 1995
    Dick Tracy 1990
    Flatliners 1990
    Goodfellas 1990
    Hard To Kill 1990
    Heat 1995
    interview With A Vampire 1994
    In The Mouth of Madness 1995
    Jurassic Park 1993
    Judgement Night 1993
    Kalifornia 1993
    Last Action Hero 1993
    Leaving Las Vegas 1995
    Malcom X 1992
    Marked For Death 1990
    Misery 1990
    New Jack City 1991
    Out For Justice 1991
    Nightbreed 1990
    Pulp Fiction 1994
    Se7en 1995
    Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. 1991
    Shakes The Clown 1992
    Shawshank Redmption 1994
    Silence of The Lambs 1991
    Short Cuts 1993
    Stargate 1994
    TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY 1991
    Total Recall 1990
    Toy Story 1995
    Tremors 1990
    True Lies 1994
    True Romance 1993
    Twelve Monkeys 1995
    The Usual Suspects 1995
    Unforgiven 1992
    Waterworld 1995 (I liked it)
    Wild At Heart 1990
    YOUNG GUNS II 1990

    …as far as sci-si and horror goes it’s kinda slim pickens but I wouldn’t say it’s a total wash.

  32. Actually, Gilliam said he’s never taken a chill pill.

    Yeah I’m kidding.

    Be interesting for Vern to revisit some of the subjects of his original reviews. I mean why not? Especially since after Thompson’s passing and how Dubya got so bad, Thompson outright wrote that Nixon was a better President and most transparent. Wow.

    Which is sorta akin to Bret Hart saying something nice about Shawn Michaels in 2009.

  33. dieselboy – There IS a sequel of sorts on the way, based on The Rum Diaries. Depp is still in as Thompson, but as far as I know Del Toro has nothing to do with it. It’s directed by Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I, How to Get A Head in Advertising)

  34. Is the scene where the doctor assaults the waitress from the book? Because, man, that scene is hard to watch.

  35. Yeah Brendan I’m pretty sure it is taken from the book although it has been several years since I’ve read it so I can’t be 100%.

  36. Gwai Lo,

    although only briefly mentioned it would be great to see a review by of Withnail and I. Richard e. Grant at his finest – and the director – Robinson – got him smashed for the first and last time for the role so he could at least appreciate his character’s thinking. fantastic film. How to get a head in advertising not so much but still brilliant…

  37. Thanks diesel. Now, how accurate do people think the book is? Is it an accurate representation, Thompson’s skewed recollections, or some weird blurring of fact and fiction where neither is really all that well established.

  38. I’d say it’s a fact that Hunter and his “lawyer” were def. getting wasted in Las Vegas instead of working that weekend.

    Alot of the dialogue is supposedly taken directly from the tapes he was using to record their escapades.

    I think it’d be interesting to see what Vern thinks about Where the Buffalo Roam as a follow-up to this. It’s an obscure movie(i don’t think it got released in theaters)with some problems with pacing and editing but with enough quirky touches to make some of the slower sections worth sitting through, I think he’d find some shit he’d like. Bill Murray plays Hunter completely different than Depp though so don’t expect the hyper paced sweaty Hunter from Fear and Loathing.

    Thanks for the heads up on The Rum Diaries, although thats a real bummer Del Toro won’t return as his lawyer. Although I dont think that dude was with Hunter on most of his writing gigs, and if memory servers wasn’t with Hunter for his Rum Diaries trip to San Juan.

  39. Thanks for the list hamslime. I’ve actually seen most of those movies (and Desperado is on as I type this) I just never really think of them as “90’s” movies. The thing is, they don’t really have any kind of distinct look or feel like 80’s, 70’s, or even modern movies. It might just be a by-product of the DVD thing, the film they used was modern enough that they can polish it so it looks like it was made yesterday. There’s something about the stock of bygone eras that kind of defines the feel of those movies.

    Can we talk about the insanity that is Waterworld? If that movie had had a lower budget, I think people would appreciate and admire the movie for its committment to a crazy alternate reality future. But because it was some mammoth budget thing starring Kevin Costner when he was in his “If on my journey I should encounter God, God will be cut” phase, there’s a definite urge to beat on the movie.

  40. My bad, it’s “The Rum Diary”.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0376136/

    I don’t think Dr. Gonzo was in the book, although it’s one of the ones I haven’t read. As for the ones I have, I think “The Curse of Lono” would make a fun movie. Anyway The Rum Diary definitely has a lot of talent involved. The supporting cast consists of Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi and Amber Heard. Love Robinson’s other work. He also wrote “The Killing Fields”. I seem to recall at one point that Josh Hartnett was supposed to be I’m pleased to see it finally make it to screens without Josh Hartnett. Shaping up for a 2010 release it appears.

    By the way, how awesome is it that Armageddon’s bizarre outburst generated 40 responses for an old and presumably dead review?

  41. When I saw Waterworld I wasn’t as informed as I am nowadays about what goes on behind the scenes so I was just able to enjoy it without that baggage. It’s not my favorite movie by any stretch of the imagination but it’s just one of those bad movies like Twister or Battlefield Earth that I watch whenever they’re on.

    As far as Kevin Costner is concerned, I’ve never got why people don’t like him. I’ve heard different takes on it (most people saying he’s bland, which may be true) but I’ve never seen a movie where I thought he outright sucked. But what do I know? I like Battlefield Earth and Twister.

  42. Technically, THE RUM DIARY would be a sort of rough prequel to FEAR & LOATHING, written when Thompson was in his early twenties and published decades after the fact (it’s far more in the vein of ‘pure’ fiction than FEAR & LOATHING) There’s an extremely entertaining letter that he wrote to the Production Executive at The Shooting Gallery about the delays in getting the film into production that begins: “Okay, you lazy bitch, I’m getting tired of this waterhead fuckaround that you’re doing with The Rum Diary…”

    And you can read it here: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/09/okay-you-lazy-bitch.html

  43. Hamslime–Yeah I don’t know, haven’t seen the movie in years, but I remember really enjoying it, and at least part of it wasn’t just laughing at it and its wrong-headedness and stuff, I think I actually sort of admire the thing. As for Costner, I think it’s because he went through a period where he clearly thought he was the bee’s knees whatever the hell that expression means. So around the fifth or sixth time he singe-handedly saved the human race, people decided he could go fuck himself. Now I don’t think people mind him so much, its more that he has so much money he can’t really be bothered to star in movies, sort of like Michael Keaton nowadays.

  44. lol, man I dun even remember this, stumbled across review 4 doors down from riddick (from Outlander which was fucking goddam awesome) but rereading and thinkin dodgy review Vern, and then reading on to the comments, laughing to see myself lookin back, I stand by my post. Looks to be I made simple observation and feedback and got stare by fancy lad so got back up and go all fucking wanker as happens when fancy lads dun stick to their business. Blame the victim, that’s what I always say. Wait. Fuck ya’s and all the highsey horses. Not everyone can go to the polo when you got a rare night off an ten bucks. Some of us go to read some smart arse who got off the wagon already. Less harmful use of time than roaming about raping fancy lads, albeit not by much. Cry me a river!

  45. I don’t think most people could even tell you what they dis-liked about Waterworld. They would mumble something about drinking your pee being a stupid ideal and that would be their argument. It certainly isn’t as bad as Twister or Battlefield Earth though.

  46. I never got any of that. Twister is watchable with some watchable folk in it. All the Waterworld hate is so ridiculous. It’s like the biggest budget B movie of all time, I love it. The Postman too. Battlefield Earth is stupid sure, but it’s still infinitely more entertaining and enjoyable than soooo much of what’s out there that it’s classic ‘bottom 100’ status is bullshit. Compare watching it to such typical boring inspid shit such as Righteous Kill. Recall Forest Whittaker and some genuinely great scenes like the ‘endless options for renewel’ echoing about. No competition.

    I do have to confess though, I really didn’t consider that it was also genuinely a bad film until I read this 10,000 word minute by minute review: http://www.jabootu.com/be.htm

    I accepted that he made lots of good points, and then I watched it a few more times, and showed it to a few friends, and bought it for 5 bucks and watched it again. Won’t be doing that with Terminator Salvation I can assure you, though I accept, technically the better film. Won’t be watching Requiem for a Dream or Changeling again soon either, though in that case they actually sit on a much higher rungs of course, even though not as entertaining or have inspired a rewatch – though I guess if it permeates your subconscious that prolly counts as rewatches.

  47. I’d agree that as good as Requiem is(and its amazing) it’s def not something I find myself desiring to re-watch anytime soon. Interesting tidbit, the average movie features between 600-700 cuts while Requiem features over 2000.

  48. I bought the Blu-ray from B&N because of this month’s Criterion sale. Revisiting it again, I got a deeper sense of the what and the when and more importantly the why. Del Toro has a good line on the commentary track about something Stella Adler said about what the junkie does to himself speaks more to the world around him than himself. The American dream is unraveling before our eyes, and if more of us considered it deeply enough we’d all probably be on an endless Adrenochrome trip.

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