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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Give us your brain for two hours and you will never be the same again….

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) is a film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Terry Gilliam (Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, The Fisher King) directed this colorful, stylized, pseudo-psychedelic $21-million adaptation about stoned sportswriter Raoul Duke, Thompson’s alter ego, on a wild drug-crazed road trip, a paranoid plummet into the belly of the beast, with his pal, lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta. Carrying a suitcase of drugs, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp with shaved pate) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) drive a red convertible across the Mojave from L.A. to Vegas, where Duke has an assignment to cover the Mint 400 desert motorcycle race. As the drugs kick in, Duke ventures into voiceover, filling in the blank spots and narrative gaps. “This is not a good town for psychedelic drugs,” says Duke, but even so, they consume vast quantities, eventually escalating to ether. Duke notes that with ether “you can actually watch yourself behaving this terrible way, but you can’t control it.” The two trash their hotel room, and Gonzo goes back to L.A. Thinking the hotel room holocaust will lead to an arrest, Duke begins a drive back to L.A., but after an odd encounter with a highway patrolman (Gary Busey) and a telephone conversation with Gonzo, he returns to Vegas to cover the District Attorney Convention on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in the glitzy Flamingo Hotel. Cameos and guest stars include Mark Harmon, Cameron Diaz, Flea, Lyle Lovett, Harry Dean Stanton, Ellen Barkin, Tobey Maguire, and Hunter S. Thompson himself.


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