Thursday, May 07, 2009

Dear Charlie:

Okay, so The Tripper.

For the first probably twenty minutes of this flick, I was kinda irritated. I mean, I know you have to set up the slasher plot by showing the self-absorbed, out-of-control parade of youthful victims being irresponsible and damn near unbearable, but seriously. They really went full out with this one.

Although one of the modern-day hippies was Jason Mewes, who's always been hilarious in a Kevin Smith vehicle, so I kept watching. Besides, I knew pretty much all of them would probably die painfully soon, so I just waited patiently for the slashing to begin, already.

Okay, truth: I was waiting for Thomas Jane to make an appearance. Yeah, I'm trying to catch some of his other movies. And I so love a cheesy slasher flick.

But I could never have guessed what was in store when Mr. Jane took the stage. Oh, my God, but he plays that cop as straight as an arrow, as sober as a judge, and with all the chaos of drug-addled hippies and a money-grubbing, foul-mouthed Paul-Reubens-as-a-carny-king and a serial killer in a Ronald Reagan mask and screamingly conservative blue suit/white shirt/red tie combination...Officer Buzz Hall comes across as completely hilarious. He's the rock in the center of the maelstrom, the calm in the eye of the hurricane, the candle of responsibility in the blind darkness of self-absorption.

Pick your metaphor.

All of which adds up to me laughing really hard every time he steps up to the plate. And the mustache works. Seriously.

The movie itself is entertaining as hell. Once the murders start, it's carnage candy, and the red-tinted Karo syrup positively flows. There are wild pigs named George W., dogs named Nancy and Poindexter (Serial Killer Reagan's dogs, of course), more drugs than at a drive-through pharmacy, rampaging and paintballing hicks, hippie traps, giant trees, and, again, the inimitable Paul Reubens, who is a trip unto himself.

But seriously. Thomas Jane. Never cracks so much as a grin and gets almost all the laughs. It takes a certain kind of actor to stand with his thumbs hooked in his belt for 90% of a B-grade horror movie and still be not only plausible but completely believable. Yes, I just said the word believable in relation to a slasher flick starring Ronald Reagan. Sort of.

And the few times when the movie verges on serious? Yeah, he's right there with it. Rolls with the tone. Impressive to watch, fun to see.

He can play the serious, he can play the scenery-chewing, he can play the sole rational character in a movie posing self-indulgent hippies against a "compassionate conservative" with an axe. When everyone around him is either certifiably nuts or higher than a kite, de facto Officer Buzz Hall is there to keep the peace.

While cracking me right the hell up.

And now, I'm headed to bed, and I think the song stuck in my head -- though it was never played in the movie -- is, "If I had a haaaammerrrr...I'd hammer in the mooorrrrniiinnn'...I'd hammer in the eeeeveniiinnnn'...all over this laaaaand!"

And the cinematographer deserves some kind of award for his filming of the redwood forest. Beautiful scenery, gorgeous use of light and fog. And I hear that they found an old, severed finger while filming. Though that didn't make it into the movie. Go figure.

Oh, and chainsaws? Not just for deforestation anymore. I'm just sayin'.


At 7:42 AM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

I loathe slasher films, but you make me want to see this one.

If you want to laugh and you like slasher movies, you might want to check out "Cannibal: the musical". That thing is so bad it's good.


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