Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel, was a psychedelic odyssey for readers. After its premiere at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, director Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of the novel with co-writer Tony Grisoni, Alex Cox, and Tod Davies frightened and enraged critics. As Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, a journalist and a lawyer, set out on a road trip to Las Vegas, the film follows their exploits. The trip begins as a “job,” but it quickly transforms into a drug-fueled adventure filled with strange and hilarious experiences. To get into Gilliam’s drug-induced surreal world of weightlessness, the actors Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro don their best wigs and costumes.
The film’s cinematographer is Italian Nicola Pecorini, the editor is British Lesley Walker, and the composer and musician is an Englishman named Ray Cooper. At Cannes Film Festival, critics panned the film, calling it flaccid and unworthy of the prestigious Palme d’Or award for best film. The movie only made a small amount of money when it was released in theaters. “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” was not even regarded as an outstanding work of literature when it was released in theaters. However, as time passed, the film’s reputation improved, and it is now revered among film buffs as a cult classic.
I focused on films with a similar narrative and thematic structure for this list. The authors chosen for this list deal with a wide range of subjects while incorporating psychedelic elements into their aesthetics, plot structures, and themes. In addition, I did not include any of Terry Gilliam’s directorial efforts in order to have a wider range of choices. So, without further ado, here are some of our picks for the best films that are similar to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Movies like ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ are available on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
1. Altered States (1980)
With William Hurt playing Harvard scientist Dr. Edward “Eddie” Jessup, the movie “Altered States” is based on the novel by American playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky of the same name. The horrible nightmare that ensues is what causes the rest of his life to fall apart. The science fiction horror film, directed by Ken Russell and written by Sidney Aaron, explores the obvious impact of the increasing use of psychoactive drugs such as mescaline, ketamine, and LSD, among other substances. The film has an 80% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of Russell’s most well-liked productions.
For me, the best way to sum up the experience was to quote film critic Richard Corliss from his review: “This one has it all: sex, violence, comedy… In many ways, it’s both a compendium and apotheosis of American popular film culture. It begins at a fever pitch before taking off like a bird—into genetic fantasy, into a precognitive dream of delirium and joy. The subject and substance, style, and spirit of madness are all intertwined. The film changes tone, even form, with its hero’s every new mood and mutation. It stretches and contracts in tandem with his thoughts until they’re on the verge of breaking. It keeps saying it’s going to go crazy, then does it anyway, and it’s still as clear-headed as an acrobat on a tightrope. Moves slowly and deliberately, as though it’s being directed by an astute psychopath or film-makers fearful of blowing the audience’s mind out in the theater. Welcome to “Altered States,” ladies and gentlemen.”
2. Dead Man (1995)
Described by the director as a “psychedelic Western,” ‘Dead Man,’ stars Johnny Depp as William Blake, an accountant who kills a man and meets a strange Native American man named “Nobody.” Blake’s new acquaintance asserts that he can help him prepare for his ascension into the spiritual realm. Blake believes him. In the Wild Wild West, Blake and Nobody set out on a perilous journey with an ever-increasing bounty on their heads, seeing “wanted” posters. ‘Dead Man,’ directed and written by Jim Jarmusch, is a visual feast. The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it did well. The film’s commercial prospects were dim when it was released, but it has since gained favor with critics and fans alike, and is now considered something of a cult classic. Check out these other great reads:
3. Climax (2018)
Known for his psychedelic films, Gaspar Noé’s cinematic universes are multicolored and his auteur status is well-deserved. His most recent endeavor, ‘Climax,’ employs such surrealistic stylistics. Claim to fame: A dance horror film, “Climax” depicts a night of LSD-fueled celebration by a group of French dancers in an abandoned school. Although the film has an expressionistic look, it’s still full of mayhem thanks to the outstanding work of the actors. In addition, the lack of a solid narrative progression provides a sense of absurdity. ‘Climax’ premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and received praise for Noé’s direction, Benoît Debie’s cinematography and the soundtrack, but, like an archetypal Noé film, was panned for its explicit violence and lack of coherence. Read on to discover more similar films to Irreversible.
4. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
In ‘Requiem for a Dream,’ a psychological drama, four drug addicts’ lives are examined. The film explores how drugs completely ruin peoples’ lives by showcasing the characters’ nightmarish alternate reality. ‘Requiem for a Dream,’ directed by Darren Aronofsky and co-written by him and Hubert Selby Jr., premiered to positive reviews at the Cannes Film Festival. The piece of work is unflinching in its portrayal of drug addiction. Aronofsky’s idiosyncratic direction, coupled with the commendable performances by Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans, make the film a challenging but engaging watch. Watch Requiem for a Dream-Inspiring Films
5. Mandy (2018)
“Mandy” is a film by Greek-Canadian director Panos Cosmatos, co-written by Aaron Stewart-Ahn and the director himself, and it stars Nicolas Cage and Andrea Riseborough as a married couple who live in a remote part of the woods with their daughter. A demon-riding hippie cult and its henchmen brutally traumatize them.
The husband’s raging desire for vengeance sets off a chain of unfortunate events. ‘Mandy’ had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it played to enthusiastic audiences and received favorable reviews. As of today, the film has a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 81% rating on Metacritic, respectively. This psychedelic action thriller with a horror undertone is a classic Nicolas Cage picture. Because of the film’s expressive style and fantastically exaggerated performances, it’s a must-see.
6. Daisies (1966)
In ‘Daisies,’ a comedy-drama, two teenage girls named Marie I and Marie II, played by Jitka Cerhová and Ivana Karbanová, pull a series of bizarre pranks. The film features a vibrant color scheme that lends the film a surreal vibe. A number of difficulties emerged after the completion of “Daisies,” which director Vra Chytilová directed with co-writers Ester Krumbachová, Pavel Juraek and Chytilová. The film’s release was postponed by nearly two years.
In contrast, the film received overwhelmingly positive reviews following its initial release in theaters, earning the Belgian Film Critics Association’s Grand Prix for best film. Furthermore, ‘Daises’ has matured into a classic over time, with some critics even hailing it as the greatest Czech film ever made. Find out why in this list of films like Eyes Wide Shut.
7. Trainspotting (1996)
‘Trainspotting,’ directed by Danny Boyle, stars Ewan McGregor as Renton, a young man who becomes entangled in Edinburgh’s drug mafia after getting caught up in it. The screenplay, written by John Hodge, is based on Irvine Welsh’s 1993 novel of the same name. While the film’s narrative depicts drugs and addiction in a lighthearted manner, it also provides an in-depth look at the cultural, social, and personal dimensions of drug craving.
Incredibly positive reviews followed “Trainspotting,” and Hodge in particular was lauded by the critics. The film won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and has a score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the best comedies ever made. “Trainspotting” is Boyle’s best work.
8. Suspiria (1977)
Based on the 1845 essay “Suspiria de Profundis” by English essayist Thomas De Quincey, “Suspiria” follows American ballet student Suzy Bannion as she battles unknown supernatural forces. After being transferred to a prestigious German dance academy where several students are brutally murdered, she begins to develop the experiences. “Suspiria,” directed by Italian cinema’s “Master of Horror,” Dario Argento, and co-written with Argento and Daria Nicolodi, incorporates elements of both psychedelic and Gothic horror to create a truly terrifying experience.
The film’s expressionistic use of color is sure to frighten the audience, but it will also keep them glued to the screen the entire time. Since its release, ‘Suspiria’ has been hailed as a groundbreaking work of art. Psychedelic horror has since been imitated by a slew of other filmmakers, thanks to the success of this film. Pinterest