It’s 1967 and as a young child sits watching coverage of the war on television he is bombarded with savage imagery of war torn violence and aftermath. His father, a logger, attempting to care for his wife needs to clear trees in order to afford his wife’s medication. When news of a band of hippies stopping his clearing operation reaches him he grabs his son and heads off to clear out the hippies. The hippies announce their agenda, dad retaliates in fury and soon the boy’s mind breaks as he takes out the lead hippie in a fit of violence. Cut to present day and the hippies are back. This time they’re modern aged kids yearning for the days of old, back in the forest to attend a music festival. With an onslaught of freaks and weirdoâ€™s in attendance, nobody notices the Ronald Reagan look alike moving throughout the crowd…until hippies start to die.
Directed by the one and only David Arquette, The Tripper is a throwback to the slashers of old. Somewhat of a rarity in this day and age, there are many elements shared between this modern tale and our favs from back in the day. Masked killers, a brief back story on why the killer is…angry, random groups of fornicating teens, it’s all there. This time around Arquette mixes up the formula a bit and gives us a target ‘group’ as opposed to a target ‘girl’ and from there Tripper manages to stay fresh. Sure, there is a main girl, but she’s not really Mr. Reagan’s target; she’s just part of that flock of dirty hippies that just happens to get his goat.
The beauty here is in the way the formula has been tweaked. From the very beginning of the flick it is laid out to us clear as day who the killer is and why he’s pissed off. There’s really no question about who’s who and what the motive is; despite this fact though they still manage to throw in the red herrings. The jealous ex boyfriend, the band of rowdy rednecks; it’s conceivable at one point or the other that these characters could be the killers, but you know full well they’re not. They’re just there for flavor and general chaos, and those elements are what keep this one from being stale.
Sure there’s some plot holes here and there, but they really do not factor in. You could over analyze these holes, but what’s the point? The plot play second fiddle here to the nut job in the Reagan mask. Not a film to require heavy thinking, there’s one motive behind this flick and that’s fun. Pure slasher flick fun. You could draw a connection between the Regan obsession and the hippies, or some kind of eco-friendly bible thumping, but you’d be trying to hard. Settle in to watch some funny characters get knocked off and you’ll be all set.
The cast goes a long way to making Tripper a fun watched as there’s some star power packed in. With the likes of Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Lukas Haas, Thomas Jane, and Jason Mewes, you’re suddenly looking at a flick packed with people in non typical roles. All played well with a good tounge in cheek manner, the ‘ooo who’s that guy!’ game adds to the fun. (Lest I forget, Pee Wee has a good role in here as well and pulls off one of the more disgusting hiding spots I’ve seen to date! And in addition, IMDb tells me that Courtney Cox made an appearance as well, although I seemed to miss her.)
The Tripper is a simple movie. Keep an open mind focused intently on having a good time and you’ll have an enjoyable watch. If you want a flick with some meat and thought inducing segments, this isn’t the movie you want to see. This is a flick about stoners in the woods hunted by a man in a Ron Reagan mask. Keep in simple!