The Tripper is a slash-tastic tongue in cheek horror delight!
The Tripper is a movie about a serial killer who is obsessed with Ronald Reagan and takes on his persona. The hunt of choice for Ronnie is a woodland full of hippies that is freshly stocked every year thanks to a music festival put on by promoter Frank Baker (Sir Paul Reubens). Ronald Reagan killing hippies is kick-ass, and the movie is cock full of it!
We begin the movie following a van full of free love, drug abusing youths (and the clean living friend). We are introduced to them on their road trip to the outdoor festival. The characters are all like-able and the stage is set perfectly for you to care once they start to get butchered. Jason Mews was a great cast as the driver of the van ( Joey ), he is still Mews, and a drug abuser in this film – but never did he come off as “Jay of Jay and Silent Bob” to me. He was great in the role and came off as a charming hedonist.
The violence starts pretty quick into the film and never lets up. Director David Arquette did a great job of using the slasher movie formula to make a great homage to the genre. If we see your tits – you will probably die. If you take drugs – sinner meet the axe of repentance. If you are greedy, money will be your downfall. At one point an old sage that lives in the woods greets the kids and warns them of danger! There is a shed in the murky forest that divulges all the killer’s secrets. Classic textbook 80’s slasher shit – done with love for the genre that never takes itself too seriously.
I was surprised how much gore was in the film. Ronnie is a fucking psycho and likes to play with the guts of the victims. To see Ronald Regan disembowel someone is something that I needed to see before I died. Ample blood and guts were in the film and it was a delight to see Ronnie use bladed weapons as the killing instruments of choice. Call me old fashioned – In slasher films, I like slashing.
One of the drivers of the film after the hippies start to die is Officer Buzz Hall (played by Thomas Jane) this character is a conservative, concerned, straight – shooting officer of the law and was a perfect contrast to the hippies that he must serve and protect. The dialog between the cop and hippies was overblown left vs right insults, done in hilarious fashion. As the officer tries to find the killer – more people are dying, when he tries to shut down the park – more people are dying, and no one will listen. We relate to the cop’s frustration with our own as we yell at the screen “don’t walk alone!”
The film climaxes with a girl being chased, a drum circle getting slaughtered, the mystery revealed, and a conniving promoter scurrying like a coward. The scene where Ronnie finally meets justice is ominous, a callback to a song earlier in the film was timed perfectly and with great effect as the battle ends. The movie then exits pretty quickly after the action subsides and a set up for a sequel is given (as it should)
I cannot stress enough how good the acting was in this film. For a slasher film everyone was top notch. The characters were all stereotypical of a horror movie entourage, but they delivered their stereotypes beautifully and the interaction between the characters created much of the humor. Cop vs Hippie, Promoter vs Cop, Cop vs Hermit, Hippies vs Rednecks, Promoter vs Mayor, Mayor vs Cop. Regan vs the world! Each interaction brought about its own comedy and let the story focus on violence.
I loved this movie. It is probably one of the best buddy films I have seen in years. Take a group of friends to see this movie and you will all have a riotous time. The Tripper was everything I like about slasher films with Ronald Regan as the killer to boot! For what it set out to do – this film is Routh, out of 10 – I would give it a 9. Full frontal nudity, violence, sex, good, evil and Ronald Regan.
This is a teenage drive-in classic.