Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Tripper (2006) Film Review
When Scream veteran David Arquette steps into the directorial chair to make a horror movie, you might be forgiven for expecting more of the same. But you would be wrong.
The opening sequence has news footage of nameless war dead, inhumanely thrown together like so much butcher meat. A voice-over says that there is nothing glamorous about war. The image is uncomfortably mirrored later in scenes of carnage and mass-murder. No shortage of gore, but it is the political overtones that make the movie stand out and also invite forgiveness for the appreciably low budget.
The story follows a bunch of hippies having a love festival in the woods, much to the annoyance of local hicks. They are stalked by a psychopath in a realistic Ronald Reagan mask who starts chopping them up. Of those that are left, most are too stoned on ecstasy and LSD ('trippers' - geddit?) to want to believe anything very terrible is happening or that they could do anything about it anyway.
The suggestion is obvious: you are living in happy oblivion while your political leaders wreak havoc in the world. Vietnam is neatly linked to Iraq, and 'Reagan' has a pig named George W that seems to be fed on severed limbs. This is no gentle analogy - it is served up with a sledgehammer (or rather an axe in most cases). Ill-gotten gains fly in the air as a body is cut in half with a chainsaw. "No daughter of mine is going to be hooked on drugs," says the killer tenderly, advancing with murderous intent. Better off dead, obviously.
The humour is sparse enough to lend only light relief. With the lifelike Reagan towering over him, axe in hand, one victim pleads, "But I'm a Republican!" The killer dog Nancy is particularly nasty.
And there's another layer... When Ronald Reagan was governor of California, he famously released a record number of mental health patients back into the community to save costs. (In case you didn't know this before seeing the film, you will before the end.) Arquette says he was inspired to make the film by growing up in Los Angeles during the Reagan years. Overtly political, with B-movie blood-and-gore effects that are nevertheless stomach-churning, lots of nudity and some nice cinematography that mimics the drug experience, The Tripper even has pictures of all the politicians it hates in the credits.
The Tripper may be for horror fans only, but it is an unpretentiously daring attempt to launch a broadside at a morally righteous right-wing establishment that is ankle deep in dead bodies of political making.Reviewed on: 18 Feb 2007