Tales From the Gipp

Posted June 4, 2012 at 12:01am

President Abraham Lincoln might be getting the Hollywood treatment this summer, but back in 2007, actor/producer David Arquette opened the door for ax-wielding ex-presidents hell-bent on carving up undesirables with his campy slasher flick “The Tripper.”

At its heart, the film is a classic morality tale. Capitalism vs. conservancy. Man vs. consciousness. And, of course, sharp/pointy/serrated weapons vs. nubile flesh.

The setup is simple enough: Impressionable youth watches cash-strapped father face off against tree-huggers, father watches son mercilessly butcher affronting hippies, murderous lad is committed to insane asylum, unsuspecting 20-somethings wander into forest for a drug- and music-fueled bacchanalia, vindictive psycho dons Ronald Reagan mask, carnage ensues.

Arquette’s version of Reagan is resolutely more homicidal than his surf-chasing, .44 Magnum-wielding counterpart in “Point Break” and infinitely funnier than every impersonation of “40” by Rich Little we’ve suffered through. Arquette told HOH the germ for the story was planted during his formative years spent in California.

“I started noticing homeless people like I’d never seen before,” he said of the emptying out of state hospitals that came about after then-Gov. Reagan inked into law the controversial Lanterman-Petris-Short Act.

Still, Arquette swears the film is not just a hatchet job against the conservative icon. “I was really just playing with the ‘Just Say No!’ campaign,” he mused, adding, “I actually like Ronald Reagan. He just made some unsound choices regarding the most vulnerable among us.”

The project marked Arquette’s first turn in the director’s chair. And while he took away plenty from experience (“It was a crazy adventure”), Arquette freely admits his vision did not translate well in theaters.

“It failed miserably,” he said, citing a dismal $35,000 haul on opening weekend. The self-promoted film was released April 20 (4/20; ya dig) and quickly took its lumps from mainstream media. It’s since gained semicult status among horror fans and has even garnered a few shoutouts on RottenTomatoes.com.

Would he ever consider making a sequel?

“It’s like John Edwards wanting to give it another run,” he said. “I just don’t think it would be wise.”