Criterion Corner: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

The Criterion Collection for years have been releasing the best versions of movies on DVD and Blue Ray.  They are hands down the ultimate praise a film can receive,and while many claim  the Oscar to be  the ultimate recognition.  Having the work and praise that goes into a Criterion edition.  Shows that it was put together by film lovers for film lovers.  This section is going to be dedicated to some of the great movies in this growing collection.


Cast:Johnny Depp  Benicio Del Toro

Writers: Hunter S. Thompson(book), Todd Davies, Alex Cox

Director: Terry Gilliam

In the foul year of our lord 1971, Hunter S. Thompson evoked on a wild trip that would soon become a literary classic There is no other director that could bring “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” to the screen better than Terry Gilliam.  Even the most visual directors could not adapt this crazy story and many have tried. When you have a story this wild and inventive you need a director that is willing to go wade in the waters of insanity to put this on the screen.


With Terry Gilliam on board to present the visuals, next were actors to portray Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo.  Although the characters of this flick were fictional they were still based on real people so good character actors were needed to make them more believable.  Luckily they found Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro to play these parts.  Johhny Depp has been an amazing character actor ever since “Edward Scissorhands” and this may be his most iconic role ever.  His impersonation of Mr. Duke aka Hunter S Thompson is quite brilliant from the look and gestures to the actual pitch and vocal movements.   It is uncanny at how much  Mr Depp looks like the real thing.  This is the role he should have been nominated for.

fear and loathing in las vegas

Unlike other books that have been adapted to movies. “Fear and Loathing ” stays really close to the source. A novel that once began as a failed writing assignment for Sports Illustrated but was later picked up by Rolling Stone. The book has received a great cult following so it should be no surprise that the movie would have the same. The fact that this was made by Universal Studios is quite unique because this is not the movie that has general mass appeal. This isn’t the type of movie you would want to watch with your parents or with your kids.  It’s just pure escapism joy and it is a positive drug story when you think about how it ends.  Thompson’s story is a gateway movie(drug) for underground cinephillies. After this you may seek out other movies like it to help feed that addiction.


The movie is filled with great cameos by Christina Ricci, Cameron Diaz, Tobey Maguire, Penn Jillette and even Hunter S. Thompson himself.  It’s unfortunate that he took his own life back in 2005 because we really need someone like him to shake up the world of journalism again.  Imagine just how great it would be to have him on the presidential campaign trail.  His articles on Donald Trump alone would be amazing.   I feel like most journalists play things to safe when it comes to telling a story and it’s high time(no pun intented) that we have someone like him back in our world again.

The DVD and Blu-Ray are filled with these great special features

  • Digital transfer, approved by director Terry Gilliam, with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack and an optional 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray edition
  • Three audio commentaries: one with Gilliam, one with stars Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro and producer Laila Nabulsi, and one with author Hunter S. Thompson
  • Deleted scenes, with optional commentary by Gilliam
  • Selection of Thompson correspondence, read on camera by Depp
  • Hunter Goes to Hollywood, a short documentary
  • A look at the controversy over the screenwriting credit
  • Profile of Oscar Zeta Acosta, the inspiration for Dr. Gonzo
  • Collection of artwork by illustrator Ralph Steadman
  • Excerpt from the 1996 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas recording featuring Jim Jarmusch and Maury Chaykin
  • BBC documentary from 1978 with Thompson and Steadman
  • Storyboards, production designs, stills, and trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic J. Hoberman and two pieces by ThompsonCover illustration by Ralph Steadmandepp and thompson

This review appeared previously on The Vern’s Videovanguard


About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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10 Responses to Criterion Corner: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

  1. ninvoid99 says:

    One of the most fucked-up films I had ever seen and I love every fucking second of it.

  2. Zoë says:

    Loved the book, loved the movie. Methinks it is time to revisit them both! Excellent work Vern!

  3. Jay says:

    Johnny Depp was perfect for this – it may be one of the last roles I truly enjoyed him in.

  4. Jordan Dodd says:

    Oh goddamn I have to get my hands on this!! You are spot on, only someone like Gilliam could have made this. Personally, from what I have seen, Depp has not come close to this. Like you say, the way he mimics the real man is incredible.

    I do prefer the book though 😛

  5. Khalid Rafi says:

    This is such an utterly batshit crazy movie, and primarily because Gillaim’s equally crazy vision wonderfully compliments HST’s source material.

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