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Friday, November 07, 2003
"He was small."
This is what cantankerous author Hunter S. Thompson had to say about his on-screen counterpart, Johnny Depp. If you haven't seen, or even heard about the Criteron release of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," you should probably head here. Criterion is a DVD publishing company that produces exhaustive collections for cult movies.
Their "F & L" release consists of two discs. The second includes all sorts of forgotten HST lore, most notable of which is a documentary produced by the BBC in 1977. The hour-long program follows Hunter and artist Ralph Steadman on a road trip from Aspen to Hollywood. After having Depp's portrayal burned into your skull, it's weird to see the real-life Duke chugging rum, firing magnums and sweating profusely. Johnny really did nail the part.
At the conclusion, Hunter consults a memorial designer about a gigantic grave he wants constructed after his passing. He envisions a gigantic, stone fist with two thumbs (the gonzo logo) on top of a 30 foot tall pedestal overlooking his estate near Aspen. During his funeral service, his ashes will be placed, along with explosives, inside the pedestal. While Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine plays, the ashes will rocket out of the fist and explode over the woods surrounding the estate. In the film, he's daunted by the final cost estimate. He's probably long since abandoned the idea.
Also on the first disc is probably the most interesting DVD commentary in existence. As various assistants and Criterion recorders try to keep him line, Thompson hoots and hollers through the film, occasionally letting out high-pitched screams for no apparent reason. After bad-mouthing everyone affiliated with the production, he makes phone calls to Depp and Benecio del Toro. Here's what he has to say:
-On Tobey Maguire: "That kid's a stupid wax doll of some kind. I can see why he got [Spiderman]. He's a perfect representation of the breed."
-On his own strange mannerisms: "If I ever saw someone doing that, I'd stab them with a fork from the dinner table."
On director Terry Gilliam: "He's a pederast."
On "What do you think a 17 year-old Mormon girl would think of this film?": "I think she would love it. It's a romantic deal."
On God and religion: "You think I'm one of those cheap, little freaks that insists there's one god? That's like one drug. HA! HA! WOOO! You may have one card in your deck mumble... mumble.......but one god? It's another scheme by Catholic priests to fleece the neighborhood and fuck the fat young boys...or whatever else they can get their hands on."
Left on Benecio's voice mail: "You jackass bastard. I've been hearing a lot about you and not all of it is satisfactory. And the fact you won't answer your phone is making me edgy. Well, what the fuck? Who cares about you, you fucking yellow-bellied, Nazi pig? Well, see you later. Bye."
Oh, that Hunter! What a character!