Quantcast THE TRIPPER: FIRST LOOK review

FIRST LOOK: THE TRIPPER (April. 07) by Robg.

A lot of you are already familiar with the buzz surrounding THE TRIPPER, the directorial debut from fan favorite actor-turned-director David Arquette. (No doubt from his frequently updated My Space page where he’s been communicating directly with fans and posting “video blogs” from his United States TRIPPER tour.) Well, for a select few lucky fans that happen to live near one of the 50 locations where THE TRIPPER opened last night (on April 20th), the wait was finally over.

What’s it about? We follow our core group of likable hippies as they trek to an all weekend outdoor music festival in the woods being put on by a sleazy concert promoter named Frank Baker. (Played by Paul Reubens/Pee Wee Herman!) The town’s Sheriff Buzz Hall (Thomas Jane) is keeping a close eye on the festivities after the few fatalities of last year’s big event, when suddenly a crazed ax killer with an obsession for former President Ronald Reagan shows up and starts hacking up some “damn hippies”.

Sure, it sounds a little wacky, but trust me… it works! Often, people say that there is nothing new that can be done with the tired “slasher” sub-genre of horror films. But then something as far-out and original as THE TRIPPER comes along and proves all the nay-sayers wrong.

What’s to like? Just about everything!

The film opens with some real news footage from the late 60’s of Vietnam. Yes, this material is a tad disturbing for the start of a horror film, but it’s pretty much the same exact stuff that’s being broadcast on the news these days, almost 40 years later. (And much like all great horror films, there’s a point - an underlining social commentary trying to be brought across through out the duration of the film, that’s not being beaten over our heads.) We’re then introduced to Dylan Riggs, a hard working lumberjack with a young boy and a sick wife, who is just trying to make ends meet when a group of hippies jump in front of a forest tree preventing him and his crew from cutting it down. This is where we’re also introduced to Gus, Dylan’s young son who may have been sitting in front of the TV a little too closely during some of Governor Ronald Reagan’s many speeches. Little Gus freaks out, grabs a chainsaw and goes a little nutty on one of the hippies. This pretty much establishes the traditional “origin” story for our films killer.
Cut to present day, we’re then introduced to our likable batch of hippie kids, looking to have a good drug-induced, slightly drunken weekend at this music festival. The casting for THE TRIPPER is absolutely top notch, and with every recognizable face that pops up, you can’t help but smile at how great everyone is in the movie. Head hippie Jason Mewes practically steals the movie as Joey, and his relationship with girlfriend Linda (played by Marsha Thomason) is one of the film’s comical highlights.
We’ve also got Jaime King playing Samantha, who still lives in fear of her over-controlling ex-boyfriend (Balthazar Getty) and Lukas Haas, Sam’s current boyfriend who comforts her with hugs and acoustic songs he’s written about her.
It’s hard not to love Thomas Jane’s performance as Buzz, or get giddy at seeing Paul Reubens here, who practically drops a hundred F bombs during the course of the film. Also, former FX man turned actor Christopher Nelson does a kick ass job as the crazed ax-wielding “Ronnie” and delivers some fierce moments each time he attacks his victims. It’s those fierce moments that help break up the comedy elements of the film. Even David Arquette shows up and steals a few scenes as one of the red-necks constantly trying to instigate a fight with our core group of kids.
And speaking of David, this really is an impressive directorial debut. David really was paying attention to the films of his mentor Wes Craven and the dozens of other director’s he’s worked with thru-out the years, because the entire film from start to finish is visually interesting. He offers plenty of drug induced, colorful sequences which for me, really helped simulate the character’s experiences. (Since I don’t do any drugs.) And even his usage of music (such as including band Fishbone) add that extra zest to an already cool little horror film. With this strong of a debut, I can only imagine David growing as a filmmaker from movie to movie. (And I only hope he’ll continue to do interesting films within the horror genre.) Credit should also go to co-screenwriter Joe Harris, who's vast knowledge of the horror genre, topped with his political awareness helped create such a unique & fun story.
This film’s pretty much got all the prerequisites for a good horror movie and I'm sure both David & Joe were aware of that from the beginning. There’s plenty of nudity (that surprisingly includes some full frontal nudity!), the obligatory sex scene, drug use, funny likable characters, gory kills, multiple death scene’s by ax (and maybe even a couple by chainsaw!), really funny character moments and dialogue, and again, an underlining social commentary. Is it the greatest new horror movie to come out?! No. But is it fun as hell and refreshing considering the current horror trend to include “torture” in everything? HELL YES.

I know it may be difficult to catch this considering its limited theatrical release, but do yourself a favor and try your best to see it on the big screen. I’m sure the DVD is going to rock, but I really enjoyed the entire experience of sharing this wacky, bizarre horror movie with my friends in theaters. I’m sure you will too. –Robg.
(Trailer Below!)

THE TRIPPER official trailer

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