Death in the Desert is an eighty-minute action adventure crime film set in Las Vegas, America’s biggest casino hub, and one of the largest casino hubs in the world. The story centres around the life of Kim Davis, a stripper and the live-in girlfriend of Ray Easler, a legendary casino owner and known cocaine and heroin addict. Her world is thrown upside down when she falls in love with Matt Duvall, the man originally hired by Easler to bury a fortune of US $20 million in the Nevada desert.
The Original Book
The Death in the Desert motion picture is based on the original true crime book by Cathy Scott, entitled Death in the Desert: The True Story of Money, Murder and Mystery in Sin City. The book revolves around the death of Lonnie Theodore ‘Ted’ Binion, heir to the Horseshoe Casino, who is re-named in the film and portrayed as Ray Easler, and his girlfriend Sandy Murphy, re-named in the film as Kim Davis.
Death in the Desert Credits
The Death in the Desert film was adapted from the original book into a script by screenwriter John Steppling. The film was directed and produced by American filmmaker Josh Evans, and stars Michael Madsen as Ray Easler (the original Ted Binion), Shayla Beesley as Kim Davis (the original Sandy Murphy), John Palladino as Matt Duvall, and Paz de la Huerta as Kim’s friend, Margo. The film was first released at the Tucson Film Festival on the 9th of October, 2015.
The theme track of the film is Only the Lonely. This is an original song by The Motels, which was re-written for the film. The cover version was performed by Roxy, and produced by Chris Goss and Roxy Saint. Director Josh Evans has said that this song perfectly captures the emotions of the Death in the Desert motion picture.
Death in the Desert Shooting
The actual shooting of Death in the Desert took place during the months of February and March in 2014, after months of film preparations and becoming acquainted with the reality of Las Vegas life. Shooting, as with most productions, was a tumultuous experience, with locations falling through last minute, and other locations, such as the Grand Hotel and the Sapphire, now key to the final film, being last-minute additions.
Some of the Film’s Themes
Given the nature of its subject matter, it is easy to deduce that the themes prominent in Death in the Desert revolve around elements of greed, in addition to lust and lonely lost souls. The film is portrayed in a dark and shadowy style.
Death in the Desert is said to portray elements that are epitomic of life in Las Vegas, and tells the tale of its protagonists as one that is the product of Las Vegas life.
The film also delves deeply into the feeling of ‘not being good enough’ and issues of low self-worth, abusive relationships, and the conflicts surrounding sex trade, especially focusing on prostitution. These all form part of the norm of the Las Vegas life, and strongly affect the protagonists of the tale.