An Election Day Slasher Double Feature

By  · Published on November 8th, 2016

A pair of slashers to get you through the horrors of another election season.

Election Day 2016 has finally arrived. For many of us this is a huge relief as this has been an especially turbulent and taxing election season. Currently hordes of Americans are waiting in line eager to cast their vote. Some of you may even be reading this as you wait. Whatever the case may be we’re approaching the end and can soon go back to not caring about anything. But we’re not quite there yet. We have to make it through this day before we can truly exhale – providing the votes tally up to the conclusion you want. How do we pass this last few hours? With movies, of course!

There’s a lot of different ways you can go when setting up your Election Day watch list. A number of different genres have dipped their toes in the Presidential/Election/Political pool, with mixed results across the board. Personally I like to go the slasher route because well I dig slashers. Fortunately there’s two fun slasher flicks that make for an awesome Election Day double feature!

Horror House on Highway Five – 1985 – Dir. Richard Casey

Horror House on Highway Five is the story of a group of college kids that encounter a crazed killer. This particular crazed killer happens to wears a Richard Nixon mask, which is a tad confusing because Nixon made it pretty clear that he wasn’t a crook. At least that’s sort of the plot. There’s also this strange Nazi thing going on that includes a rather unexpected Fritz Lang reference with a character named Dr. Mabuse.

This is a wildly nonsensical movie. So much so that I have a really hard time believing there was an actual script written. The only semblance of a script is with the use of repetition but even that comes across poorly due to the horrendous acting. The film also contains some pretty awful music stings and has extremely clunky pacing, stumbling all the way through the entire 88-minute runtime. And yet I find it to be oddly mesmerizing.

Horror House on Highway Five feels very genuine. I think the goal here was to make a suspenseful but humorous slasher. The problem is nothing quite works. There’s little to no suspense because the plot is hard to follow and the jokes all fall pretty flat. But I do have to applaud the effort. All these problems could have been solved by throwing in more gore. That would have satisfied me plenty. Unfortunately we’re just teased with a few moments of pretty good gore. There’s actually a really cool moment with a rake.

So why watch this? Well because it’s unique and far more interesting than watching Wolf Blitzer stand in front of a map waiting to call Arthur County, Nebraska. I can’t think of one other slasher that delivers Richard Nixon, Nazis and Dr. Mabuse. This may very well be an acquired taste but if you watch it you’re not likely to forget it.

The Tripper – 2006 – Dir. David Arquette

The Tripper is the first and to date only feature film directed by David Arquette and much like Horror House on Highway Five it features a murderous madman donning the face of a former US President. In this film the psycho killer wears a Ronald Reagan mask and sets out to kill a bunch of hippies at a weekend long music festival. Something tells me that if Ronald Reagan had the chance he would have happily slaughtered hippies at Woodstock or something similar.

It’s admittedly been a while since I’ve seen The Tripper but my memory tells me that it’s a total blast. It’s clear the film was made with love by Arquette and the fantastic cast – which features the likes of Thomas Jane, Lukas Haas, Courtney Cox and Paul Reubens – all seem to be having a lot of fun. Give me some solid blood and gore, a cast that looks to be enjoying themselves and a memorable killer and I’ll enjoy just about any slasher. The Tripper checks all those boxes. Plus it’s there’s some solid politically satire on display that attacks a number of Reagan’s policies and decisions as Commander and Chief. And if I remember correctly there’s a vicious dog named Nancy.

Also worth noting with The Tripper is that it had a pretty interesting marketing campaign. It was heavily promoted via MySpace with Arquette even taking the film on tour with MySpace sponsoring. This makes The Tripper likely one of the first movies to take advantage of social media.

The Tripper is the perfect way to end a tumultuous election season. Blow off some steam while watching some hippies get slaughtered.

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Chris Coffel is a contributor at Film School Rejects. He’s a connoisseur of Christmas horror, a Nic Cage fanatic, and bad at Rocket League. He can be found on Twitter here: @Chris_Coffel. (He/Him)