Terry Gilliam’s, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas may be the greatest example of terrifying comedy. Blending complex laughs with terrifying visuals, it’s near imposble to neglect the terrifying elements of this outrageously intelligent comedy. If you’ve somehow missed the macabre in this film, perhaps you should focus on eliminating preconceived notions: you entered this viewing experience with a solidified idea, and it rendered you a victim of tunnel vion.
To dive into the storyline would actually far exceed the brief synops you’d expect. This is a layered film, despite the shallow guise proposed as a promotional front; there’s content here, and quality plot twists. Therefore I’ll give you the extremely condensed, lame man’s breakdown: Two buness men travel to Las Vegas with enough drugs to keep a healthy party entertained for a month, but a series of unfortunate events lead to plenty of trouble.
That out of the way, allow me to open the gates of fear. While under the influence of various hallucinogenic drugs, these gentlemen, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and
Dr Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) find themselves struggling to juggle reality and fantasy while tangled up in the glitz and glamour of 1970’s Las Vegas. When I say struggle, believe me, I mean struggle.
Intense hallucinations produce hideous visages; from blood-thirsty overgrown reptilian beasts to manifestations of the devil: Raoul and the Doc are plagued by unbearable aesthetics. Some of the undulating faces are particularly creepy; If you’ve ever experimented with mind altering drugs (hey, I had a few rough years) you likely found these specific sequences absolutely petrifying.
Amazingly, Gilliam’s screenplay plays the comedy with the horror evenly. For every moment to send chills up your spine there’s another to syphon a healthy guffaw. It’s this unique quality that makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas such a masterpiece. The shenanigans are outlandish to put it lightly, the visuals are absolutely hypnotizing, the scares are tangible, and the clong monologue, while brief is one of the best you’ll hear in any film today.
If you’ve never viewed this gem as a horror film, I can’t blame you in the slightest. I can however suggest you give this one a chance, as there are some legitimately creepy moments in this flick. One of the finest films of the last few decades, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has earned it’s cult status: it lives up to every bit of the hype, and then some.