Another holiday, another holiday themed wishlist entry. Well, today isn’t April Fool’s Day, but it’ll have hit before my next wishlist piece, so I decided to pop it in now.
April Fool’s Day (1986)
Another holiday, another slasher. This one came during a kind of “in between” time where the first wave of slasher movies was dying out and Freddy Krueger had just burst onto the scene refreshing things and on the cusp of taking over pop culture. April Fool’s Day doesn’t follow the supernatural slasher villain that would rock the late 80’s, but goes the more traditional route when it comes to its proceedings.
But this one plays out differently than you might think. While it gets labeled and thrown in with all the slasher films of the time, I don’t think that’s necessarily all it had intended to do. At the very least, it appears to be a take on Agatha Christie’s groundbreaking mystery novel And Then There Were None by way of teen slasher. All the trappings of that book are present. From the character of Muffy inviting all her friends to a remote island for a weekend that no one can leave to the little detail of the noose hanging from the ceiling of one of the character’s rooms toward the end when they are by their lonesome, its very obvious that this film was going for that maybe instead of the slasher.
While there is some solid gore at times in the film, this is a mostly bloodless affair. Director Fred Walton (who also directed the classic When A Stranger Calls) is more interested in dabbling in suspense and asking you to play along with the film’s mystery instead of grossing you out or making you cringe with a gruesome death. A lot of the time, when a character is about to get done in, we cut away leaving us to assume the worst, but leave to the imagination what might have become of the victim. Yes, we may later answer that by seeing their corpse, but only further leaves your imagination to connect the dots.
He was wanting to stray away from the slasher film at the time, but legendary Friday The 13th producer Frank Mancuso Jr. was behind this film. Also in the Friday The 13th relation is my personal favorite final girl from that series – Amy Steel. I’ve never seen her in anything else aside from these 2 films, but the girl had a unique look and was a really strong presence for me in both films. Kinda a shame she didn’t get much bigger at least for the 80s. And, who can forget, this is the film that Biff Tannen, Thomas F. Wilson, followed up the original Back To The Future with. The rest of the cast I don’t recognize from anything but there is some radical 80s stylings going with attire.
April Fool’s Day isn’t the greatest slasher of all time for me (it does have one of the best slasher posters of all time though), but it does prove its worth in its uniqueness (you’ll understand once you’ve seen it). Its also one those “big production ones” done by a big studio, which means there’s usually some better talent acting in front of the camera. Its also got a great location which provides some terrific frames. Upgrading it to Blu-ray would probably even enhance this fact more. It didn’t fair too well at the box office, but did find plenty of life on VHS, becoming a classic slasher through that avenue like so many others.
There was a “remake” of the film done a few years back, but that didn’t manage to bring the original April Fool’s Day out of the woodwork. The rights lie with Paramount, but its unsure whether this is a title they’ve allowed Warner Bros rights for distribution. With smaller companies like Scream Factory and Synapse Films giving vintage slashers such grand treatment, it’d be nice if someone signed off to let the show it some good treatment. As there’s been no special editions of this ever and barely any sort of insight into the making of this film, I’d really hope we could get some interviews and more insight into this production.