"It’s a slasher film, first and foremost,” screenwriter Joe Harris tells Fango of his latest effort, THE TRIPPER—a film on which the SCREAM films’ David Arquette is flexing his directing muscles. The project is being produced by Arquette’s own Coquette Productions (co-operated by his wife and SCREAM trilogy co-star Courteney Cox, who also appears in the new movie) and Raw Entertainment, Steve (30 DAYS OF NIGHT) Niles and Thomas (THE PUNISHER) Jane’s development company.
Harris’ outright confidence in TRIPPER’s identity bodes well for fans of the stalker subgenre, but don’t think that viewers are going to come away from this promised splatterfest without a little food for thought. Also starring Jane, Jaime (SIN CITY) King, Lukas (MARS ATTACKS!) Haas, Balthazar (FEAST) Getty, Christopher (KILL BILL) Nelson and former Pee-wee Paul Reubens, TRIPPER follows a few friends en route to a concert who are stalked by a determined killer. Harris, who co-penned DARKNESS FALLS and balances feature-film and comic-book writing duties, partnered with Arquette on the story. “I can’t say much about it,” Harris says, “but it combines many of my own interests: an original take on the slasher-movie killer, drug culture, jam-band music and politics along with vicious dogs, bloodbaths and booby traps, [and combines it] into a positively outrageous mix I haven’t seen before, in our genre or any others that spring to mind.
“It’s about a group of hippies who head to an outdoor music and camping festival for all the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll they can get their hands on,” he continues, “but they end up stalked by the eternal enemy of all things hippie. It’s irreverent but poignant—I believe, anyway. It has a message, but doesn’t lay it on too thick. And it doesn’t, despite the politics and what I’m predicting will be at least some level of outrage from a certain wing of the political spectrum, take itself all that seriously.”
The writer’s involvement in TRIPPER began when his manager and CABIN FEVER producer Evan Astrowsky voiced Arquette’s interest in collaborating with someone on “a politically themed, drug-addled party of a movie that also happened to feature lots of blood, death and dismemberment.” Countless requisite creative meetings and phone calls later, and Arquette and Harris had a deviant script to call their own. “Arquette’s got tunnel vision,” Harris says, “and he really made this outrageous project happen, roping in friends and favors. I feel incredibly fortunate to be involved.”
Last month, the New York City native took a cross-country jaunt of his own to northern California to pop in on TRIPPER’s rapid-fire production. “I had a great time on set, despite the conditions,” he says. “The movie was shot entirely up north of Santa Cruz, among the ancient, giant redwood trees. You’re out there in the primordial wilderness, and you can almost hear the f’ing Ewoks and speeder bikes. I believe they shot RETURN OF THE JEDI up there too. It was raining all the time, misty and cold, but gorgeous and a great setting for a horror movie. Paul Reubens plays our crazy concert promoter who’s decked out in red, white and blue—that was pretty cool. Our killer, his identity and his methods are even cooler. Fango fans can expect a lot of blood and some old-school, splattering ax artistry. Sex, blood, drugs and rock n’ roll. God bless America, baby.”