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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.88%
Worth A Look: 0%
Pretty Bad: 41.18%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Tripper, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Ronald Reagan vs. faux-hippies; who do you root for?"
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2007 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: I'm not saying that "The Tripper" should have been a slam dunk by any means, but it does kind of have something for everyone - an axe-wielding Ronald Reagan going to town on a bunch of hippies? There's pleasure to be had there, unless you like both Reagan AND hippies, in which case I suspect you're in a tiny minority. That it's as political as it is goofy is part of the fun, but co-writer/director/co-star David Arquette doesn't quite seem able to harness the potential of his good idea.

After some scathing quotes from Reagan and a "thirty years ago" prologue that we know will be important later, we meet a group of already half-baked, half-drunk slackers heading for a big outdoor concert in their van. Well, one's pretty sober - Samantha (Jaime King) isn't terribly interested in the chemicals, although she doesn't regret leaving her conservative boyfriend Jimmy (Balthazar Getty) behind. They get harassed by some redneck lumberjacks along the way, but eventually make it to see local Sherriff Buzz Hall (Thomas Jane) trying to shut it down as unsafe, despite the graft promoter Frank Baker (Paul Reubens) has paid Mayor Burton (Rick Overton). Now, sure, Buzz is only thinking about the weather, the privacy-loving local pot growers, and the tiny size of his police department, but he certainly seems to have the right idea when some guy in a Ronald Reagan mask starts going after the visiting (faux) hippies with an axe.

Give Arquette some credit where it's due - the man has a clear love for the slasher genre and doesn't hold back from giving the gorehounds what they want. Ronnie takes out a couple dozen people in this movie, and it's seldom off-screen. Axes get buried in heads, people get mauled by dogs, and gallons of sticky red blood spatter all over everything. There's bad jokes, attack dogs, and Ronnie breaking out some of his most famous sound bites before a kill. On a certain basic level, it delivers the goods.

The trouble comes when Arquette shows ambition beyond that. It's not a lot of ambition, true, but if the idea is that Reagan and those who would be him are evil, then I'm not sure it's a great idea that the hippies carrying the torch for the liberal side come across as drugged-up morons (and I don't particularly think that it's a case of Arquette & company trying to make a case for extremism not being a virtue for any cause). The film also seems strangely out of time at points - even though there are cell phones and references to the war in Iraq, "hippies" seems to be a generation out of date, and much of the vilification of Reagan is based upon his years as Governor of California, which comes off as both a little parochial and a bit past its expiration date.

Still, plenty of Arquette's friends must have dug the concept; he's put together a pretty good cast for a slasher film that went all but directly to video. A lot of them are just warm bodies for Ronnie to chop up; ten minutes after the screening, I couldn't tell you which character was played by Jason Mewes and which one was played by Lukas Haas, for instance. Paul Reubens chews scenery with gusto as the foul-mouthed concert promoter. Jaime King, bless her heart, is pretty darn charming as the film's sober-save-for-one-bad-trip most likely survivor. Thomas Jane manages the right combination of uptight and laid back as the local law.

Arquette and co-writer Joe Harris (of Darkness Falls infamy), along with most of the cast, have undeniable enthusiasm for the material, and maybe that's part of the problem - they come up with some great bits, and everyone seems to be going all-out, but they seemed to concentrate on the fun stuff and skimp on what was harder work: Making us care whether the potential victims live or die (or at least differentiating them enough that there's a possibility they're something other than slasher fodder), putting some teeth behind the satiric points the film ham-fistedly tries to make, etc.

It's kind of a shame, actually; the movie is so self-consciously aiming for satire that its failure in that regard negates some of its virtues as a splatter movie.

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originally posted: 08/03/07 05:35:24
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 After Dark Horrorfest For more in the 2006 After Dark Horrorfest series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2007 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/16/09 art A SO-SO PARODY OF FRIDAY THE 13th texas chainsaw massacre type MOVIES! 3 stars
10/08/08 mr.mike mixed bag has its moments 3 stars
10/16/07 William Goss Ronald Reagan hacks apart hippies in this campy slasher. 3 stars
4/23/07 sarah chris funny, gorey,real grindhouse,political.ballllsy 5 stars
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  20-Apr-2007 (R)
  DVD: 30-Oct-2007



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