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Film review: 'The Tripper' is gory and goofy

Published: Friday, April 20 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

THE TRIPPER — ** 1/2 — Jaime King, Lukas Haas, Thomas Jane; rated R (violence, gore, profanity, drugs, nudity, sex, vulgarity).

The goofy, sometimes creepy slasher spoof "The Tripper" takes on the personality of its co-writer/director, David Arquette, who can be pretty goofy and creepy himself.

This low-budget but celebrity-loaded film is also pretty heavy-handed in its numerous, accusatory allusions to the Reagan and Bush presidencies. And yet it's sort of fun — at least if you're someone who has a taste for gory slasher flicks. (Those who don't should definitely take a pass.)

The exact time period and setting for the film isn't mentioned, but since "The Tripper" follows a group of young hippies who are headed to the Pacific Northwest for something called the Free Love Festival, you can draw your own conclusions.

When they get to their destination, they are victimized by unfriendly locals. Worse, they quickly discover that a few early arrivals are being picked off by a homicidal maniac, wielding an ax or chain saw and wearing a Ronald Reagan mask.

This isn't subtle stuff, and the explicit gore, violence, drug and sexual content make it something of an acquired taste. But the film certainly doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's a little reminiscent, at least in tone, of the 2002 cult horror hit "Cabin Fever."

Arquette has lined up pals to appear in small roles. He is seen briefly onscreen, as are his wife and "Scream" co-star Courteney Cox, Paul Reubens, Balthazar Getty, Rick Overton and Jason Mewes.

The movie's ostensible leads are Jaime King and Lukas Haas as two of the killer's would-be victims, and Thomas Jane, as the local sheriff.

"The Tripper" is rated R for violent imagery and strong horror violence and gore (stabbings, slashings, vehicular violence and violence against women), strong sexual language (profanity and crude slang), drug content (hallucinogenic use and references), full male and female nudity, and simulated sex. Running time: 98 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com