Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

used with courtesey of Daily Script


FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS


by


Terry Gilliam & Toy Grisoni



BLACK SCREEN


A desert wind moans sadly. From somewhere within the wind
comes the tinkly, syrupy-sweet sounds of the Lennon Sisters
singing “My Favorite Things.” A series of sepia images of
anti-war protests from the mid-sixties appear one after
another on the screen.


In the violently scrawled style of Ralph Steadman, the title
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS splashes onto the screen. A
beat, and then it runs down and off revealing:


TITLE: “He who makes a beast of himself
Gets rid of the pain
Of being a man.”
Dr. Johnson


The VOICE OF HUNTER S. THOMPSON — a.k.a. RAOUL DUKE:


DUKE (V/O)

We were somewhere around Barstow on
the edge of the desert when the
drugs began to take hold.


AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!


A red Chevy convertible — THE RED SHARK — wipes the black
screen.


EXT. ON THE ROAD TO LAS VEGAS – DAY


AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!


THE RED SHARK races down the desert highway at a hundred
miles an hour. THE STONES’ “Sympathy For the Devil” blares.


AT THE WHEEL


STRANGELY STILL AND TENSE, RAOUL DUKE DRIVES — SKELETAL,

BEER IN HAND — STARES STRAIGHT AHEAD.


BESIDE HIM, FACE TURNED TO THE SUN, EYES CLOSED BEHIND
WRAPAROUND SPANISH SUNGLASSES, IS HIS SWARTHY AND UNNERVINGLY
UNPREDICTABLE ATTORNEY, DR. GONZO.


The music pounds DUKE stares straight ahead. GONZO froths
up a can of beer – uses it as shaving foam.


DUKE (V/O)

I remember saying something like:
“I feel a bit lightheaded. Maybe
you should drive…”


GONZO starts shaving.

2.


DUKE (V/O)
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…


Close on DUKE — shadows flutter across his face. The
reflections of bats swirl within his eyes. We push in close
to one eye ball — SCREECHING SWIRLING BAT-LIKE SHAPES!


AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!


DUKE (V/O)

… and a voice was screaming: Holy
Jesus! What are these goddamn
animals?


CUT TO WIDE SHOT OF CAR –


DUKE, eyes rigid, flails at the air. No bats anywhere.
GONZO casually looks over…


GONZO
What are you yelling about?


DUCK SCREECHES to the side of the road. The sudden wrench
makes GONZO nick his face with his razor.


DUKE
Never mind. It’s your turn to drive.


DUKE (V/O)
No point mentioning these bats. I
thought. The poor bastard will see
them soon enough.


DUKE hops out of the car, keeping an eye out for bats,
frantically opens the trunk to reveal what looks like A

MOBILE POLICE NARCOTICS LAB. DUKE desperately rifles
through the impressive stash.


DUKE (V/O)
We had two bags of grass, seventy-
five pellets of mescaline, five
sheets of high powered blotter

acid, a salt shaker half full of
cocaine, a whole galaxy of multi-
colored uppers, downers, screamers,
laughers… Also a quart of tequila,
a quart of rum, a case of beer, a
pint of raw ether and two dozen

amyls.

3.


DUKE, eyes darting madly as he hears what sounds like the
SHRIEKS OF BATS returning, grabs an assortment along with
another six-pack of beer – slams the trunk shut and dives
back into the car.


DUKE (V/O)
Not that we needed all that for the
trip, but once you get locked into
a serious drug collection, the
tendency is to push it as far as
you can.


THE RED SHARK RACES INTO THE DISTANCE… on the ground,
weakly flapping is a SEMI-SQUASHED, SLOWLY DYING ANIMAL… A
BAT?


EXT. FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD TO LAS VEGAS – DAY


IN THE RED SHARK


GONZO grips the wheel – stares maniacally down the road – a
lousy driver.


DUKE (V/O)
The only thing that really worried
me was the ether. There is nothing
in the world more helpless and
irresponsible and depraved than a
man in the depths of an ether binge.

And I knew we’d get into that
rotten stuff pretty soon.


The radio news wars with “SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL” on a tape
recorder.


RADIO NEWS
An overdose of heroin was listed as

the official cause of death for
pretty 19 year old Diane Hanby
whose body was found stuffed in a
refrigerator last week…


GONZO changes the station – “ONE TOKE OVER THE LINE, SWEET
JESUS, ONE TOKE OVER THE LINE” vies with “SYMPATHY”… He

sings along – washes a couple of pills back with a new beer.
The RED SHARK fishtails.


GONZO
“One toke over the line, sweet
Jesus.”

4.


DUKE
(muttering to himself)
One toke. You poor fool. Wait
till you see those goddamn bats.


UP AHEAD – AT THE SIDE OF THE DESERTED ROAD


A LONE HITCHHIKER spots them, jumps up and sticks out a
thumb. The RED SHARK roars past. Then, fifty yards down
the road…


GONZO
Let’s give that boy a lift.


GONZO wrenches the wheel – THE RED SHARK swerves to the side

of the road.


DUKE
We can’t stop here – this is bat
country!


GONZO JAMS THE CAR INTO REVERSE AND ROCKETS BACKWARDS. The
HITCHHIKER races to the car. A poor OKIE KID with a big grin.


HITCHHIKER
Hot damn! I never rode in a
convertible before!


Then the big grin freezes on the OKIE KID’s face at the
sight of: DUKE and GONZO looking out at him with HYPER-
NORMAL, shit-eating SMILES.


DUKE
Is that right? Well, I guess
you’re about ready, eh?


The HITCHHIKER hesitates.


GONZO

We’re your friends. We’re not like
the others.


DUKE
(hissing sharply)
No more of that talk or I’ll put
the leeches on you.


DUKE turns back to the HITCHHIKER – smiles reassuringly.


EXT. EVEN FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD TO LAS VEGAS – DAY


The HITCHHIKER sits nervously in the back seat as the RED
SHARK screams down the road.

5.


GONZO sings along to the tape player.


The HITCHHIKER’s eyes go to the door – considers jumping out
and taking his chances.


DUKE, sweating bullets, STARES AT THE HITCHHIKER in the rear
view mirror.


DUKE (V/O)

How long could we maintain, I
wondered. How long before one of
us starts raving and jabbering at
this boy? What will he think then?
This same lonely desert was the
last known home of the Manson family.


The HITCHHIKER’s eyes notice a thin line of blood trickling
down GONZO’s neck.


DUKE (V/O)
Would he make that grim connection
when my attorney starts screaming
about bats and huge manta rays

coming down on the car?


DUKE’s mouth moves intermittently – sometimes in sync with
the words, sometimes not.


DUKE (V/O)
If so – well, we’ll just have to
cut his head off and bury him

somewhere. Because it goes without
saying that we can’t turn him loose.
He’d report us at once to some kind
of outback Nazi law enforcement
agency, and they’ll run us down
like dogs…


DUKE
(out loud to himself)
Jesus! Did I say that?


DUKE (V/O)
Or just think it? Was I talking?

Did they hear me?


GONZO
(reassuringly to HITCHHIKER)
It’s okay. He’s admiring the shape
of your skull.


DUKE gives the HITCHHIKER a FINE BIG GRIN and the HITCHHIKER
giggles nervously.

6.


DUKE (V/O)
Maybe I better have a chat with

this boy I thought. Perhaps if I
explain things, he’ll rest easy…


DUKE
(roaring over the
road noise)
THERE’S ONE THING YOU SHOULD

PROBABLY UNDERSTAND —


The HITCHHIKER stares at him, not blinking.


DUKE
(yells)
CAN YOU HEAR ME?


The HITCHHIKER nods — giggles — terrified. DUKE climbs
into the back seat.


DUKE
That’s good. Because I want you to
have all the background. This is a
very ominous assignment — with

overtones of extreme personal
danger. I’m a Doctor of Journalism!
This is important, goddamnit! This
is a true story!…
(WHACKS the BACK OF
THE DRIVER’S SEAT

with his fist)


The CAR SWERVES SICKENINGLY, then straightens out.


GONZO
(screams)
Keep your hands off my fucking neck!


The HITCHHIKER makes a sudden lunge for freedom. DUKE GRABS
HIM BACK DOWN.


DUKE (V/O)
Our vibrations were getting nasty —
but why? Was there no communication
in this car? Had we deteriorated

to the level of dumb beasts?


The HITCHHIKER STRUGGLES IN PANIC.

7.


DUKE
(to HITCHHIKER)


I want you to understand that this
man at the wheel is my attorney!
He’s not just some dingbat I found
on the Strip. He’s a foreigner. I
think he’s probably Samoan. But it
doesn’t matter, does it? Are you

prejudiced?


HITCHHIKER
Hell, no!


DUKE
I didn’t think so. Because in

spite of his race, this man is
extremely valuable to me. Hell, I
forgot all about this beer. You
want one?
(HITCHHIKER shakes
his head)

How about some ether?


HITCHHIKER
What?


DUKE
Never mind. Let’s get right to the

heart of this thing. Twenty-four
hours ago we were sitting in the
Pogo Lounge of the Beverly Wills
Hotel…


INT. THE BEVERLY WILLS HOTEL POGO LOUNGE 1971 – DAY


A uniformed DWARF, carries a shockingly PINK TELEPHONE

through the glittering, tranquil POGO LOUNGE CROWD. They
are the ELOI. HENDRIX AFROS and DROOPING MUSTACHES and BELL
BOTTOMS and LOVE BEADS and BELLS. ACTRESSES sip Singapore
Slings and PROMOTERS sip ACTRESSES in this MONIED, SANITISED
VERSION OF THE GREAT REVOLUTION YEARS.


DUKE (V/O)
… in the patio section, of

course, drinking Singapore Slings
with mescal on the side, hiding
from the brutish realities of this
foul year of Our Lord, 1971.


The DWARF reaches DUKE — T-shirt, levis, sneakers and
shades. GONZO — white rayon bellbottoms and a khaki tank

top undershirt. They are in the middle of a serious
conversation.

8.


DUKE
I’m telling you, the Salazar story

is getting too complicated. The
weasels have started closing in.


The DWARF sneers.


DWARF
Perhaps this is the call you’ve
been waiting for all this time,

sir…


DUKE lifts the receiver — listens…


DUKE
Uh-huh… Uh-huh… Uh-huh…


DUKE hangs up the PHONE with the DEAD-PAN EXPRESSION OF A
MOVIE SPY.


DWARF
That was headquarters. They want
me to go to Las Vegas at once and
make contact with a Portuguese
photographer named Lacerda. He’ll
have the details. All I have to do

is check into my sound proof suite
and he’ll seek me out.


GONZO, says nothing for a moment, then POUNDS the table!


GONZO
God hell! I think I see the
pattern! This one sounds like real

trouble! You’re going to need
plenty of legal advice before this
thing is over. As your attorney I
must advise you that you’ll need a
very fast car with no top and after
that, the cocaine. And then the

tape recorder, for special music,
and some Acapulco shirts…
(GONZO tucks his
khaki undershirt into
his white
bellbottoms — he

means business!)
This blows my weekend, because
naturally I’ll have to go with
you — and we’ll have to arm
ourselves.

9.


DUKE
Why not? If a thing’s worth doing,
it’s worth doing right.


DUKE and GONZO are up and off. The DWARF chases after them

with the (very large) check in his hand.


They sweep out through the Lounge door, unaware of it
swinging back into the face of the pursuing DWARF.


DUKE
I tell you, my man. This is the
American Dream in action! We’d be

fools not to ride this strange
torpedo all the way to the end.


GONZO
Indeed. We must do it. What kind
of story is this?


EXT. BEVERLY WILLS HOTEL – FRONT ENTRANCE – DAY


DUKE and GONZO emerge.


DUKE
The Mint 400! The richest off-road
race for motorcycles and dune-
buggies in the history of organized

sport!
(handing parking
ticket to Valet)
— a fantastic spectacle in honor
of some fatback grossero who owns
the luxurious Mint Hotel in the

heart of downtown Vegas… at least
that’s what the press release says.


Their car arrives — rusted out, smashed door panels. They
jump in.


DUKE
We’re going to have to drum it up

on our own. Pure Gonzo Journalism.


And they’re off in a cloud of black exhaust as the nose-
bleeding DWARF stumbles out with the unpaid bill in his hand.


EXT. SUNSET BLVD – DAY


The PINTO races through shot.


DUKE (V/O)

Getting hold of the drugs and
shirts had been no problem…

10.


EXT. POLYNESIAN BAR – DAY


The PINTO skids to a halt outside Polynesian bar, the back

window full of Hawaiian shirts.


DUKE (V/O CONT’D)
… but the car and tape recorder
were not easy things to round up at
6:30 on a Friday afternoon in
Hollywood.


INT. POLYNESIAN BAR – DAY


TORN YELLOW PAGES with dealer’s ads ticked off lie in a pile
as GONZO yells into a PAYPHONE. DUKE carries over four
Singapore Slings.


GONZO
O.K., O.K., yes. Hang onto it.

We’ll be there in thirty minutes.
(to DUKE — hand over
the PHONE)
I finally located a car with
adequate horsepower and the proper
coloring.

(into PHONE)
What?! OF COURSE the gentleman has
a major credit card! Do you
realize who the fuck you’re talking
to?


DUKE

Don’t take any guff from these
swine.
(GONZO slams the
phone down)
Now we need a sound store with the
finest equipment. Nothing dinky.

One of those new Belgian Heliowatts
with a voice-activated shotgun
mike, for picking up conversations
in oncoming cars.


GONZO
We won’t make the nut unless we

have unlimited credit.


DUKE
We will. You Samoans are all the
same. You have no faith in the
essential decency of the white
man’s culture.

11.


EXT. SUNSET BLVD – DUSK


The PINTO races down street.


DUKE (V/O)
The store was closed, but the

salesman said he would wait, if we
hurried…


EXT. SUNSET BLVD – TRAFFIC JAM – DUSK


They’re stuck in a traffic jam — clouds of exhaust. DUKE
BANGS ON THE HORN IN FURY.


DUKE (V/O)

But we were delayed en route when a
Stingray in front of us killed a
pedestrain.


Directly in front of them: BLOODY CARNAGE — a covered
corpse is loaded into an ambulance by PARAMEDICS.


EXT. CAR RENTAL AGENCY – NIGHT


DUKE (V/O)
We had trouble, again, at the car
rental agency.


Behind the wheel of the RED SHARK: DUKE grins with
satisfaction — checking it out. A nervous AGENT holds out
a clipboard. DUKE signs without looking at the rental papers.


AGENT
Say… uh… you fellas are going
to be careful with this car, aren’t
you?


DUKE

Of course.


DUKE throws the car into reverse — roars backwards past the
gas pumps to where GONZO is unloading their rusted out car.


AGENT
Well, good god! You just backed
over that two foot concrete abutment

and you didn’t even slow down!
Forty-five in reverse! And you
barely missed the pump!


DUKE
No harm done. I always test the
transmission that way. The rear

end. For stress factors.

12.


GONZO transfers boxes of new sound equipment and a large box
of rum and ice into the RED SHARK.


AGENT

Say. Are you fellows drinking?


DUKE
Not me. We’re responsible people.


He JAMS the car into LOW GEAR and lurches into traffic. The
AGENT runs into the street and helplessly watches them go.


GONZO

There’s another worrier. He’s
probably all cranked up on speed.


EXT. RUNDOWN BEACH HOUSE – NIGHT


STRANGE AND MAGICAL. In the moonlight: the silhouetted
figures of DUKE and GONZO as they pack the RED SHARK.


DUKE (V/O)

We spent the rest of that night
rounding up materials and packing
the car. Then we ate some mescaline
and went swimming.


The surf crashes in the distance…


EXT. PACIFIC OCEAN – NIGHT


DUKE cries out as he dives into the ocean. He lets himself
float up through the silvery bubbles…


DUKE AND GONZO FLOAT BEATIFICALLY IN THE GLOWING, SHIMMERING
MOONLIT SURF.


DUKE (V/O)
Our trip was different. It was to

be a classic affirmation of
everything right and true in the
national character; a gross,
physical salute to the fantastic
possibilities of life in this
country. But only for those with

true grit…


EXT. AND EVEN FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD TO LAS VEGAS – DAY


DUKE’s intense face.


DUKE
…and we’re chock full of that!

13.


GONZO
Damn right!


DUKE
My attorney understands this

concept, despite his racial handicap.
But do you?!


The HITCHHIKER nods — giggles — petrified.


DUKE (V/O)
He said he understood, but I could
see in his eyes that he didn’t. He

was lying to me.


GONZO
My heart!


GONZO clutches his heart. The car veers off the road and
screeches to a halt. He slumps over the wheel.


GONZO (CONT’D)

Where’s the medicine?


DUKE
The medicine? Yes, it’s right here.


DUKE spills out 4 AMYL CAPSULES from a tin.


DUKE

Don’t worry, this man has a bad

heart… Angina Pectoris. But we
have a cure for it.


DUKE and GONZO break 2 AMYLS apiece — INHALE DEEPLY. GONZO
falls back on the seat, staring straight up at the sun. The
HITCHHIKER looks petrified.


GONZO
(suddenly flailing
his naked arms at the sky)
Turn up the fucking music! My
heart feels like an alligator!
Volume! Clarity! Bass! We must

have bass! What’s wrong with us?
Are you goddamn old ladies?


DUKE
(turns up music to
full volume)
You scurvy shyster bastard! Watch

your language! You’re talking to a
Doctor of Journalism!

14.


GONZO
(laughing uncontrollably)

What the fuck are we doing out here?
Somebody call the police! We need
help!


DUKE
(to HITCHHIKER)
Pay no attention to this swine. He

can’t handle the medicine.
(he begins laughing)


GONZO
(to the HITCHHIKER)
The truth is we’re going to Vegas

to croak a scag baron named Savage
Henry. I’ve known him for years
but he ripped us off — and you
know what that means, right?


GONZO pulls out a .357 Magnum — waves it around.


GONZO (CONT’D)

Savage Henry has cashed his check!
We’re going to rip his lungs out!


DUKE
And eat them! That bastard won’t
get away with this! What’s going
on in this country when a scum

sucker like that can get away with
sandbagging a Doctor of Journalism?


GONZO cracks ANOTHER AMYL.


The HITCHHIKER SCRAMBLES OUT OF THE CAR, DOWN THE TRUNK LID,
AND FLEES.


HITCHHIKER

Thanks for the ride. Thanks a lot.
I like you guys. Don’t worry about
me.


DUKE
(yells)
Wait a minute! Come back and have

a beer!


The HITCHHIKER RUNS from car.

15.


GONZO
Good riddance. That boy made me

nervous. Did you see his eyes?
(laughing)
Jesus, this is good medicine.


DUKE glances back at the running HITCHHIKER.


DUKE
(suddenly clambering

into the front seat)
Move over!! We have to get out of
California before that kid finds a
cop!


DUKE GUNS THE RED SHARK — TAKES OFF DOWN THE ROAD…


EXT. UNBELIEVABLY FAR DOWN THE ROAD TO LAS VEGAS – DAY


THE RED SHARK races — DUKE at the wheel — straight ahead
driving.


DUKE (V/O)
It was absolutely imperative that
we get to the Mint Hotel before the
deadline for press registration.

Otherwise, we might have to pay for
our suite.


GONZO wrestles with a shaker of COCAINE. The top comes off
and the powder swirls away on the wind.


GONZO
Oh, Jesus! Did you see what god

just did to us?


DUKE
God didn’t do that! You did it!
You’re a fucking narcotics agent,
that was our cocaine, you pig!


GONZO
(waving his .357
Magnum at Duke)
You better be careful. Plenty of
vultures out here. They’ll pick
your bones clean before morning.


DUKE
You whore!


GONZO tears up a BLOTTER OF ACID.

16.


GONZO
Here — chew this. It’s your half
of the acid.


DUKE takes his half — chews it.


DUKE
How long do I have?


GONZO
Maybe thirty more minutes. As your
attorney, I advise you to drive at
top speed. It’ll be a goddamn
miracle if we can get there before
you turn into a wild animal. Are

you ready for that? Checking into
a Vegas hotel under a phony name
with intent to commit capital fraud
and a head full of acid.


DUKE (V/O)
Thirty minutes. It was going to be

very close.


The RED SHARK screams along the highway past a billboard:
“DON’T GAMBLE WITH MARIJUANA! \ IN NEVADA: POSSESSION – 20
YEARS; SALE – LIFE!!”


EXT. LAS VEGAS MINT HOTEL – DUSK


The RED SHARK pulls up outside the MINT. A great banner
spanning the street announces the MINT 400.


DUKE can feel the drug surging up inside him. Clutching a
buckled beer can, sweat pouring, he stares fixedly at the
TICKET the ATTENDANT gives him.


DUKE
I need this, right?


ATTENDANT

I’ll remember your face.


DUKE stares — losing it…


DUKE (V/O)
There is no way of explaining the
terror I felt.


INT. HOTEL LOBBY – DAY


DUKE waits in line at the front desk — RIGID WITH PENT UP
ENERGY. GONZO’s ahead of him — muscling in — trying to
queue jump and failing.

17.


DUKE (V/O)

I was pouring sweat. My blood is
too thick for Nevada. I’ve never
been able to properly explain
myself in this climate.


A COUPLE move off and DUKE jerks forward — stops — eyes
fixed on the stony FEMALE RESERVATIONS CLERK.


DUKE (V/O CONT’D)
Be quiet, be calm… name, rank,
and press affiliation, nothing
else…


DUKE moves ANOTHER RIGID STEP CLOSER to the desk — the
tension almost snapping him in two. GONZO’s FLAPPING

AROUND — absolutely no success.


Something catches DUKE’s eye… He REMAINS ROOTED — his
eyes turning to the VEGETAL PAISLEY PATTERNS ON THE CARPET
WHICH ARE SHIFTING — UNDULATING. THE CARPET PATTERNS ARE
INEXORABLY CREEPING UP THE WALLS…


DUKE (V/O CONT’D)
…ignore this terrible drug,

pretend it’s not happening…


The LAST PEOPLE leave — with A FINAL, STIFF MOVE, DUKE
comes face to face with the RESERVATIONS CLERK… AND
EXPLODES!


DUKE
HI THERE. MY NAME… AH, RAOUL

DUKE… ON… ON THAT LIST, THAT’S
FOR SURE. FREE LUNCH, FINAL
WISDOM, TOTAL COVERAGE… WHY NOT?
I HAVE MY ATTORNEY WITH ME, AND I
REALIZE OF COURSE…


As DUKE stares at her, BABBLING, her FACE BEGINS TO MORPH.

He tries to stop it happening by TALKING FASTER.


DUKE
… THAT HIS NAME IS NOT ON THE
LIST, BUT WE MUST HAVE THAT SUITE.
YES. JUST CHECK THE LIST AND
YOU’LL SEE. DON’T WORRY. WHAT’S

THE SCORE HERE? WHAT’S NEXT?


DUKE sags — grips the desk — WHITE KNUCKLES.

18.


RESERVATIONS CLERK
(hands him an envelope)

Your suite’s not ready yet. But
there’s somebody looking for you.


Her face is CHANGING — SWELLING — PULSING…


DUKE
(shouts)
NO! WHY? WE HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING

YET!


The FACE OF THE RESERVATIONS CLERK TURNS GREEN & GROWS FANGS.
DEADLY POISON! DUKE LUNGES BACK at GONZO, who GRIPS his arm
intensely — REACHES OUT to take the ENVELOPE.


GONZO
I can handle this. This man has a

bad heart, but I have plenty of
medicine. My name is Dr. Gonzo.
Prepare our suite at once. We’ll
be in the bar.


GONZO manoeuvres DUKE away from the desk. DUKE looks
back — the RESERVATIONS CLERKS is now a MORAY EEL — green

jowls and fangs.


INT. NAUTICAL BAR – DAY


The bar — OILY PEOPLE — quiet music — nautical theme.
DUKE and GONZO at the bar, a marlin spike hanging on the
wall behind them. DUKE has turned to stone…


GONZO
(to the bartender)

Two Cuba Libres with beer and
mescal on the side.
(opens the envelope)
Who’s Lacerda, he’s waiting for us
in a room on the twelfth floor?


DUKE

Lacerda?


DUKE (V/O)
I couldn’t remember. The name rang
a bell, but I couldn’t concentrate.
Terrible things were happening all
around us…


DUKE is staring — RAPT — TERRIFIED. BLOOD FLOWS FREELY
onto the floor. DUKE keeps his voice low.

19.


DUKE
Order some golf shoes. Otherwise,

we’ll never get out of this place
alive. It’s impossible to walk in
this muck — no footing at all…


DUKE looks up — GONZO has disappeared.


DUKE looks around him — the entire room has TRANSFORMED
into a ROOM FILLED WITH REPTILES IN CLOTHES, DRINKING AND

GNAWING AT ONE ANOTHER.


DUKE (V/O)
I was right in the middle of a
fucking reptile zoo. And somebody
was giving booze to these goddamn
things! It won’t be long before

they tear us to shreds!


GONZO IS SUDDENLY BACK — AT DUKE’S SHOULDER.


GONZO
If you think we’re in trouble now
wait until you see what’s happening
in the elevators.


GONZO removes his sunshades and we see he’s been crying…
as he speaks he seems to be floating. Duke struggles to
keep him in his line of vision.


GONZO
I just went upstairs to see this
man Lacerda. I told him I knew

what he was up to…
(GONZO rallies —
turns fierce)
He says he’s a photographer! But
when I mentioned Savage Henry he
freaked! He knows we’re onto him!


DUKE
But what about our room? And the
golf shoes?


A GROUP OF REPTILES AT A TABLE ACROSS THE ROOM stares at
them, BLOOD DRIPPING FROM THEIR FANGS.


DUKE (CONT’D)

(grabbing GONZO
trying to hold him still)
Holy shit! Look at that bunch over
there! They’ve spotted us!

20.


Cut to wider shot — DUKE is holding on to a man standing
next to him at the bar. The room has returned to normality.
GONZO is sitting in his original position.


GONZO
(downs his drink —
gets up)

That’s the press table. Where you
have to sign in for our credentials.
Shit, let’s get it over with. You
handle that, and I’ll check on the
room.


DUKE

No, no. Don’t leave me!


Black screen.


INT. MINT HOTEL SUITE – DUSK


A TELEVISION shows the NIGHTLY NEWS. A BUDDHIST MONK,
protesting the war, sets himself on fire. A very nervous
BELL BOY is laying out GONZO’s order. A marlin spike is on
the floor next to DUKE.


BELL BOY
Four club sandwiches, four shrimp
cocktails.


DUKE
There’s a big… machine in the

sky… some kind of electric snake…


DUKE is curled by the window — MESMERIZED by an unseen neon
sign outside the window. His eyes fill with a million
colored lights.


BELL BOY
… a quart of rum…


DUKE
… coming straight at us.


GONZO
Shoot it.


DUKE

Not yet. I want to study its habits.


BELL BOY
… and nine fresh grapefruit.

21.


GONZO
Vitamin C. We’ll need all we can
get.


GONZO sees the BELL BOY out the door — turns and lays into
DUKE.


GONZO

Look, you’ve got to stop this talk
about snakes and leeches and
lizards and that stuff. It’s
making me sick!


DUKE stares — hears the drone of B52 BOMBERS…


On TV: The LAOS INVASION — A SERIES OF HORRIFYING

DISASTERS — EXPLOSIONS AND TWISTED WRECKAGE.


Newsreel footage of MAI LAI MASSACRE and the LIEUTENANT
CALLEY court-martial.


DUKE
What are you talking about?


GONZO

You bastard! They’ll never let us
back in that place. I leave you
alone for three minutes and you
start waving that goddamn marlin
spike around — yelling about
reptiles! You scared the shit out

of those people! They were ready
to call the cops. Hell, the only
reason they gave us press passes
was to get you out of there…


A knock at the door. DUKE and GONZO break out in a sweat.


DUKE

Oh my God! Who’s that?!


GONZO STICKS HIS GUN IN HIS WAISTBAND — opens the door to
LACERDA — BOUNCING WITH PUPPY DOG ENTHUSIASM. GONZO stares
at a man he instantly hates — watches him with deep
suspicion.


LACERDA
Duke? I’m Lacerda your photographer.

Got your press passes? Good, good.
Too bad you missed the bikes
checking in. My, what a sight!


DUKE watches the B-52S DROP THEIR BOMB LOADS.

22.


Looking down to the thick, patterned carpet, DUKE sees the
BOMBS EXPLODE like vicious flowers.


DUKE looks up: LACERDA is a war photographer — bruised,
filthy and blood spattered. LACERDA approaches him —
talking a foreign language.


LACERDA

Husquavarnas. Yamahas. Kawaskis.
Maicos. Pursang. Swedish Fireballs.
Couple of Triumphs, here and there
a CZ. All very fast. What a race
it’s gonna be.


DUKE screws up his eyes — WILLS NORMALITY BACK. LACERDA is

now just a keen photographer.L


LACERDA
Well, we start at dawn. Get a good
night’s sleep. I know I will.


And with a cheerful wave, he’s gone. DUKE is in shock.


DUKE

(weakly)
That’s good…


GONZO
I think he’s lying to us. I could
see it in his eyes.


DUKE
(even weaker)
They’ll probably have a big net for
us when we show up.


DUKE’s attention returns to the devastation on the TV…


GONZO

Turn that shit off!


GONZO kills the TV.


Black screen.


DUKE (V/O)
Never lose sight of the primary
responsibility. Cover the story.

But what was the story? Nobody had
bothered to say.

23.


EXT. DESERT – DAWN


Against A BIG ORANGE SUN, on a concrete slab, MEN FIRE

SHOTGUNS into the dawn sky. Clay pigeons shatter. The Mint
Gun Club.


Next to them, MOTORCYCLES REV — preparing for the MINT 400
RACE: A hundred BIKERS, MECHANICS and assorted MOTORSPORT
TYPES milling around in the pit area; taping headlights,
topping off oil in the forks, last minute bolt tightening.


DUKE wanders through.


DUKE (V/O)
The racers were ready at dawn.
Very tense. But the race didn’t
start until nine so we had three
long hours to kill.


A sign by a long trestle table: “KOFFEE & DONUTS.” DUKE

walks past — ignoring the SMILING LADY behind the stall.


DUKE (V/O CONT’D)
Those of us who had been up all
night were in no mood for coffee
and donuts. We wanted strong drink.
We were, after all, the Absolute

Cream of the National Sporting
Press and we were gathered here, in
Las Vegas, for a very special
assignment. And when it comes to
things like this you don’t fool
around.


INT. RACE BAR TENT – DAY


A real pit of iniquity. Slot Machines. Crap tables. Smoke.
Drunken shouting. The absolute cream of the NATIONAL
SPORTING PRESS.


DUKE is at the bar, engaged in drunken conversation with a
LIFE REPORTER…showing him his notebook.


DUKE

See…”Kill the body and the head
will die”… the Frazier/Ali fight…


MAGAZINE REPORTER
A proper end to the 60’s… Ali
beaten by a human hamburger!


DUKE
And both Kennedy’s murdered by
mutants.

24.


A SHOUT goes up from outside. The sound of engines revving.


REPORTER
That’s it! They’re starting!


In a sudden rush the PRESS CROWD make for the door taking
DUKE with them.


EXT. DESERT – DAY


MOTORCYCLES REV — tension builds…


A flag goes down. The CROWD cheers. The MOTORCYCLES ROAR
AWAY. A great cloud of dust goes up — obscuring the RACERS
as they disappear into the desert…


A moment…


REPORTER
Well, that’s that. They’ll be back

in an hour or so. Let’s go back to
the bar.


The CROWD turns and streams back into the tent.


INT. RACE BAR TENT – DAY


DUKE heads for the bar along with the REST. It’s packed.
Drinks are ordered.


A shout from outside the tent goes up:


VOICE OFF
Group 2!


The CROWD rushes for the door. DUKE gets swept along.


EXT. DESERT – DAY


MOTORCYCLES REV. A flag goes down. The CROWD cheers. The
MOTORCYCLES ROAR AWAY. Another great cloud of dust goes up…


The CROWD head back for the bar.


INT. RACE BAR TENT – DAY


The CROWD surge back to the bar.


VOICE OFF

Group 3!


This time DUKE fights his way free of the CROWD.

25.

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