Monday, August 31, 2015

AntiCurrent Video Archives Vol 4: Hunter S. Thompson- The Crazy Never Die

Hunter S. Thompson in the 80's:
Hunter's San-Francisco 
Examiner Commercial
From 1985-1989 Hunter S. Thompson spent many of his days in San Francisco writing as a media critic for The Examiner (100 of these articles were pulled together to form his book "Generation of Swine"). During this time he also took on an assignment at the behest of Rob Fleder to write an article for Playboy about the rise of "couples pornography" and how the more feminist genre of porn was poised to be "the next big thing" in the industry. He agreed to it and as research, began spending many nights at the famed Mitchell Brothers' "O'Farrell Theater".

Hunter became enthralled with this new found adult playground and through his time there formed a close friendship with both Jim and Artie Mitchel. He became such a regular that he at times took tickets at the front door and dubbed himself "the night manager" even going as far as to make business cards for himself. Eventually this laid the groundwork for Hunter to re-purpose the Playboy article as a novel and he sold the rights to Random House Publishing.

O'Farrell Theater, Mitchell Brothers
Hunter S. Thompson:
Night Manager
This book "The Night Manager" was to chronicle Hunter's time working at the notorious theater. It's not publicly known how much of the book was actually written or whether or not it was completed. However, interestingly enough, another of Thompson's unreleased works* (also through Random House) titled "Polo Is My Life" appears to be a sequel in which the protagonist is forced to leave the sex club and flee into the mountains. Would he actually sequelize the book if the first one was incomplete? Normally I'd say that's too weird to be true, but seeing as how this is Hunter S. Thompson, weird is just the norm.

*I once asked Johnny Depp (who is custodian to Thompson's archive of unreleased papers) how much unreleased material existed and he just laughed and said "a lot". 

His Lectures:
High Quality Gonzo
Front Cover
Other than the Chronicle gig and the occasional book deal such as these, Thompson's main source of income was from performing speaking engagements at colleges around the United States. These performances were best characterized by Thompson showing up late (if at all), strangers offering him excessive amounts of drugs, and an adoring audience watching him lambaste anyone in his cross-hairs in the most hilarious and vicious way possible**. In 1988 he was about to embark on one of these tours and struck up a bargain with The Mitchell brothers to send along a camera crew to document the event. The film that resulted is the hard to find "The Crazy Never Die".

** For an idea of what his full lectures were like,, I previously released his entire performace at Boulder University in 1977 as Vol. 9 of the Audio Archives available HERE.

The Feature:
High Quality Gonzo
Back Cover
"The Crazy Never Die" is a 30 minute shot-on-video documentary that looks into the wild and perfomative side of Hunter's personality. The live footage consists of highlights of his engagements at both The University of Kansas and The 1st Congregational Church in Portland, Oregon. Most of the supplemental footage is from the previously mentioned O'Farrell Theater, his office at The Examiner, Survival Research Labs, and Tommy's Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco.

Intercut between these are both intimate moments of Thompson traveling and staged moments of Thompson creating havoc while occasionally hanging out with naked strippers. It's far from an exploration on the man he was, but it is very indicative of the wild Rock and Roll side of Thompson that he wished to publicly display during this time of his life.

This Release:
Previous version VS
Archives version
This flick was released via VHS in the late 80's, thus there is only so much I could do to salvage the quality without the original footage. For this release I purchased an original, un-viewed copy and ran it through video out (thanks for the help J.C. Reifenberg), capturing it at 720p while processing the footage through an HVX.

Once I had captured it, I brought it into Adobe Premiere, color corrected it, slightly sharpened it, de-interlaced it, brought the blacks to a reasonable level, and cropped the video on both the bottom and left side by 1% as it was only tape noise and not actual footage. I then output the audio into Adobe Audition and removed the tape hiss plaguing the video. The final output is a 720p version of the movie looking as good as it ever will unless the original footage is reprocessed.

Tell me this doesn't make you want
to purchase the sweatshirt
Final Thought:
This isn't a must see documentary for most people, but if you're a fan of The Good Doctor, it is a great little piece of history to behold. I hope one day that this flick gets rereleased and if it does, I'll break down the damn door to purchase one, until then, this will have to do.

However, even though you can't pay The Mitchell Brothers for a copy of this fine film, you can purchase shirts and sweatshirts from them with Ralph Steadman's original artwork for it HERE.

Download the compressed h264 version here.
Right click and choose "save as"


  1. I can tell you this is all true, because I was there. David McCumber, Edvins Beitiks, and Hunter came out to the 19th Avenue Diner just prior to opening to christen the Jukebox. David had to stay up nights trying to get Hunter to follow some sort of disjointed logic that could pass for a column in the following days paper. Those were the days, odd, but certainly not boring. I like to think we were all there for entertainment value of some sort.
    But with Hunter, you could never tell who was entertaining who.

    Peter Garin

  2. I was at the University of Kansas when HST spoke. I got him to autograph my copy of "One Day at a Time in Alcoholics Anonymous." ;-)

  3. I read the newspaper stuff he wrote but all this is new fun for me.

  4. This documentary is great! Thanks so much for cleaning it up and posting it!