by Hans ten Cate
Tuesday, 18 February 2002

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas debuts on the Criterion DVD label on 18 February 2002

The well-known Criterion Company has just released Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on DVD. The two-disc DVD set is a remastered digital transfer of the original film and is jam-packed with extra features.

The film itself is based on the 1970s psychedelic novel by Hunter S. Thompson. Deemed "virtually unfilmable," the book could only have made it to film thanks to Terry Gilliam's visionary style. Although box office sales were lackluster in 1998 (the film grossed $10.5 million), the film has acquired a cult following much in the same way the original novel did (the story was actually first published in the November 1971 issues of Rolling Stone magazine).

The film follows journalist Raoul Duke and his attorney Dr. Gonzo as they enter Las Vegas armed with an arsenal of every drug and heinous chemical imaginable. Like any Gilliam project, the film could not escape some controversy - but it wasn't about the drugs. Gilliam found himself at odds with the Writer's Guild of America who insisted that the writing credits go to the authors of an earlier script. Like all of the great Criterion DVDs, the discs capture this controversy as well.

Criterion has long been known for their high quality presentation of classic films. Criterion pioneered the 'special edition' format that has now become ubiquitous in the industry. Criterion began releasing special edition laserdiscs in 1984 which featured what film-lovers had always wanted for home viewing: the full theatrical aspect ratio (aka 'letterbox' format), as well as audio commentaries by filmmakers and scholars, restored director's cuts, deleted scenes, shooting scripts, early shorts, and storyboards. Finally, a way to enjoy a movie beyond the movie. Today, every major film studio releases special edition discs, but film fans will tell you that no one does it with as much dedication as The Criterion Collection.

Special edition features on this two-disc set include:

  • New digital transfer supervised by the director and new Dolby sound mixes
  • Three commentary tracks: director Terry Gilliam; stars Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro and producer Laila Nabulsi; and author Hunter S. Thompson
  • Deleted scenes, with commentary by Terry Gilliam
  • Collection of storyboards and production designs
  • Collection of original artwork by famed illustrator Ralph Steadman
  • Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood: A BBC feature documentary with Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman
  • Hunter Goes to Hollywood, a short documentary video by Wayne Ewing
  • A look at the controversy over the screenwriting credit
  • A selection of Hunter S. Thompson's correspondence read on-camera by Johnny Depp
  • Rare material on Oscar Zeta Acosta, the attorney on whom the character Dr. Gonzo is based
  • Excerpt from the 1996 audio CD
  • Trailer and stills galleries
  • A booklet featuring an essay by J. Hoberman and two pieces by Hunter S. Thompson

You can purchase the Criterion Collection DVD of Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at your local video stores as well as and Barnes and Noble.