Review: When I Die (2005)

>> Tuesday, January 15, 2008

USA/C-60m./Dir: Wayne Ewing/Cast: Hunter S. Thompson (Himself), Anita Thompson (Herself), Jon Equis (Himself), Steve Cohen (Himself), Bob Braudis (Himself)

Hunter S. Thompson left detailed instructions for his funeral--a 150-foot monument was to be constructed on his Woody Creek property, topped by the gonzo symbol, a double-thumbed fist holding a peyote button. From the structure, his ashes were to be shot from a canon to fall over the valley that he loved. After his death, Hunter’s family, his community, and Johnny Depp (who covered the multi-million dollar tab) came together to make that dream a reality.

Wayne Ewing’s film documents the construction of the monument and the preparations for the ceremony. Hunter himself only appears in brief footage at the beginning of the film and over the ending credits, but his spirit is very much on display throughout. While the film itself is shot simply, the subject matter and the genuine commitment of the people involved raise this "how they did it" doc above Discovery Channel fare.

In truth, When I Die barely qualifies as a “Booze Movie” in that apart from a brief clip of Hunter at the end--which Ewing had previously used in Breakfast with Hunter (2003)--there is a total lack of imbibing on display. However, we do get some information as to Hunter’s drinking habits from Christi Palazzi, a local bartender, as she loads a beer fridge for the event (See the “Potent Quotables” section below).

Drinks Consumed--Whiskey

Intoxicating Effects--None displayed

Potent Quotables-- CHRISTI PALAZZI: Who did the research here? I think it should be Molson. That’s what I served him. And what about that story with those “Biffs” anyway? I thought he liked Bushmills on the top of his Bailey’s… They’re putting floaters of Chivas on them. I know I served him over one-hundred, Wayne. I always had Bushmills on top. Doc would only have it one way.

Video Availability--The DVD of When I Die and Wayne Ewing’s other HST documentaries can only be purchased directly from the director’s Website, Hunter Thompson Films (

Similarly Sauced Cinema--Wayne Ewing first documented the gonzo world of Hunter S. Thompson in Breakfast with Hunter (2003); and most recently he has released Free Lisl: Fear & Loathing in Denver (2006), which documents Hunter’s last great battle.

The Gonzo Tapes:The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Box Set)


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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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