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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

R  |   |  Comedy  |  22 May 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 202,462 users   Metascore: 41/100
Reviews: 645 user | 155 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

An oddball journalist and his psychopathic lawyer travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychedelic escapades.



(book), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:


The big-screen version of Hunter S. Thompson's seminal psychedelic classic about his road trip across Western America as he and his large Samoan lawyer searched desperately for the "American dream"... they were helped in large part by the huge amount of drugs and alcohol kept in their convertible, The Red Shark. Written by Laurence Mixson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Four Days, Three nights, Two Convertibles, One City See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive extreme drug use and related bizarre behavior, strong language, and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 May 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Angst und Schrecken in Las Vegas  »

Box Office


$18,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,335,095 (USA) (22 May 1998)


£206,498 (UK) (13 November 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the montage at the beginning of the film (where Raoul and Dr Gonzo drive around collecting things for the trip) there is a glimpse of a bunch of people packing things onto a psychedelically-painted school-bus. This is most likely a reference to Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters who also drove around in a psychedelically-painted school-bus. See more »


Dr. Gonzo spoofs the "Richard Nixon salute" when he gets on the plane at the end of the movie. Nixon didn't resign or do the classic "salute" until 1974. See more »


[first lines]
Raoul Duke: [narrating] We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like:
Raoul Duke: I feel a bit lightheaded. Maybe you should drive.
Raoul Duke: [narrating] Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us, and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, and a voice was screaming:
Raoul Duke: Holy Jesus. What are these goddamn animals?
[swatting the air]
Raoul Duke: Huh! Huh! Huh! Fucking pigs.
Dr. Gonzo: Did you ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Ralph Steadman drawings from the book are put in with the credits, along with the Gonzo & Duke in the Red Shark picture that takes up the whole screen at the end. See more »


Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: Theodore Rex (2010) See more »


Spy vs. Spy
Written by Liz Cox (as Elizabeth Cox), Michael Cudahy, and Nicholas Cudahy
Performed by Combustible Edison
Courtesy of Sub Pop Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

pointlessness is the point
30 July 2003 | by (guelph, canada) – See all my reviews

For all those of you who decry this movie for being pointless and lacking soul, that was the point! This is an excellent movie, a true adaptation of the book, nothing more and nothing less. It is an unflinching look at the sickening excesses of a consumption based culture of America during the early 1970's, who's vacuous heart resides in Las Vegas, a symbol of greed and debauchery. The pointlessness of the movie is a metaphor for the pointless pursuit of personal gratification and greed, the true heart of the "American Dream".

If you put aside the usual assumptions about a movie, i.e. that you are supposed to care about the characters, that their needs to conflict and resolution etc, then you will enjoy it much better. This movie is a magical ride and actually works on many levels, not only as testimony to the horrors of excessive drug use, and the tacky, ugly view of the worst parts of America, but also to the failed 60's generation, a generation that thought that "somebody somewhere is guarding the light at the end of the tunnel". Drug use is simply a way of escaping your present reality, and all the drugged out zeroes of the sixties were truly lost if they thought that enlightenment and peace could come from a hit of acid. This movie takes Timothy Leary's supposition of "freeing your mind" to it's ultimate conclusion and the conclusion is that you are not actually freeing your mind, but destroying it.

Of course this movie is also fun to watch the incredible performances by Johnny Depp and Benitio Del Torro, both of whom I barely even recognized in their roles (Depp with a shaven head and the bloated Del Torro who gained 40 pounds for his portrayal of "Dr. Gonzo"). Del Torro has one scene in particular (the bathtub scene) which is both disgusting and very disturbing. Apparently his performance was so convincing that he had a hard time getting work after this film because everyone was convinced that he was wasted on the set. The truth is that he's just a damn fine actor who didn't hold back for one second, which is exactly what the film called for. Also the scene of Johnny Depp squealing like a banshee after imbibing some adrenocrome and Del Torro freaking out behind him is unforgettable.

The directing itself is fast paced with offseting angles a lot of wide angle lenses. Gilliam has a style which is unmistakable, it's like walking around inside of a Dali painting, everything is distorted and stretched to create a strong sense of surrealism. Yet his approach is much less offensive than Oliver Stone, who desperately throws every single filming trick at you repeatedly until you are pummeled into submission. Wow, look he switch to 8 mm, then black and white, now it's slow mo all in 3 seconds!

Anyway, I digress. This is a fine movie, don't watch it stoned, you'll get more out of it, repeated viewings are recommended. I also recommend getting the criterion DVD version, which has commentary by Gilliam, Depp, del Torro and Hunter S. Thompson himself!

370 of 448 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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