Wednesday, October 3, 2012
31 Days of Halloween Day 3: April Fool's Day (1986)
Man, it's been a while since I've reviewed a good ol' slasher film! The last one I did was for Friday the 13th Parts II, III and IV, back in April! Now I have Fred Walton's 1986 kinda-slasher April Fool's Day!...
April Fool's day is about Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman), a rich college student, who invites all of her friends to her father's private island for a weekend april fool's day party. While starting off fun, the weekend soon starts to take a sinister turn...
The movie opens with a bunch of college students talking to a video camera (Nikki: "I wanna work with handicapped children, my parents are my best friends. Oh, and I start convent school next semester...And I fuck on the first date!-April fool's!"). Everyone is waiting at the docks, waiting for the ferry to come and take them to Muffy's island.
The remaining people arrive and everyone gets on the ferry as it leaves. There's couple Kit (Amy Steel from Friday the 13th Part II) and Rob (Ken Olandt), Arch (Thomas F. Wilson-Biff! "Hey McFly! Are you in there, McFly?!"), Chaz, (Clayton Rohner), funny man (and proud owner of a hairstyle that people the 80's didn't think looked awful!), prim girl Nan (Leah Pinsent), kinda-slutty Nikki (Deborah Goodrich), Skip (Griffin O'Neal), Muffy's cousin, and Harvey/Hal (Jay Baker), a Southern rich-kid classmate of Muffy's.
During the boat ride to the island, the gang talk-Chaz: "Hi, what are you reading?"-Nan: "Milton's Paradise Lost...What about you?"-Chaz: "Treasure Island: The History of Pornography in America!"-and play pranks on each-other. A prank with a fake knife ends with four of the guys in the water, and they all get out, save for Buck, the boathand, who's still trying to get back onto the ferry when it hits the island's dock...
When the boat docks, Buck's face is half torn off by the propeller. He's taken back to the shore by a policeman who was on the scene, and the group make their way to the island's big house.
Acting all chipper, as if they didn't just see a guy get his face ripped off, the group walk around th ehouse, crack jokes, and one mentions Agatha Christie! Yeah, these guys know who Agatha Christie is! These are my kind of people! (If you ask any of my generation who she is, you'll just get blank stares-and for those who thinks that Agatha Christie is unimportant, well let me tell you that my generation also mostly has blank stares for things like Alice Cooper, John Carpenter, and other inexcusable-to-forget things! My generation mostly sucks!).
After some more funny scenes, the film cuts to later that night. Everyone's having dinner, falling for chair pranks, and howling at the moon (yeah...), and they all make a toast.
Later, everyone goes to their rooms, and they find various strange things-Harv's has news articles about tragedies, i.e. a boat crash, a fire, etc., Arch's room has a drug syringe and other related stuff, Nikki's has an S&M dog collar and chain, Nan's has a recording of a crying baby, etc.
Meanwhile, Skip is outside, doing random stuff, when he's attacked and apparently killed by an unseen figure. The next morning, Kit and Rob go to a lakeside cabin to have sex, and they see Skip's body through the floorboards, floating on a boat. They run back to the house to tell everyone what they saw, and Rob, Arch and Chaz go on a search for Skip.
Arch is caught up in a trap and apparently killed (the words 'apparently killed' will be typed a lot during this review!), and Muffy begins acting strange. The house's tap stop working, and Harv and Nikki head off for a nearby well to get some water.
Their bucket and torch both end up falling into the well, and Nikki climbs down to get them. Down in the well, she sees the dead bodies of Skip, Arch, and Nan...
April Fool's Day is a very polarizing slasher fim (like Lucio Fulci's Murder Rock), some, like me, love it/like it, while others find it boring. I can see where they're coming from, as the film is very slow-moving, and mostly made up of talking. I don't mind, however, because I find the characters so much fun! I could watch a whole movie of just them talking...Well, I did watch nearly a whole movie of them talking!
One character, despite being likable, is kind of a bitch though-Muffy St. John! How she still has friends I don't know! She puts drug material in the room of Arch, who might have been a former drug user or not (the movie never says), and she puts the crying baby recording in the room of Nan, who recently had an abortion. YOU'RE A BIIIITCH, MUFFY! Come the ending, I'm surprised Kit didn't stab Muffy in the face and tear her to shreds!
The film's main problem is the film's tone. After Buck gets his face 'ripped off', the atmosphere is dark...for a few moments, then for the most part, everyone acts like it never happened, and they have fun with their pranks and other stuff.
Another example is late in the movie, when Chaz is trying to stop Nikki from leaving the house to go the docks on her own. He's serious for most of the scene, then he starts acting goofy, making Nikki laugh, and making me go 'guys, three of your friends are dead!'.
A little problem I have with the film's ending is with the very end. SPOILERS!
Muffy goes away from the party to her room, where she sees a jack-in-the-box. She rolls it up, and as it pops out, Nan jumps out from behind and slits Muffy's throat!...With a fake knife!-"April fool's!". Now my problem isn't with the ending itself, but with how Nan is done up. She's wearing something totally different from before, and her hair is tied and straightened back-I could barely recognize that it was Nan!
Speaking of the twist ending, I don't have a problem with it. Sure, it's kinda a cheap shot of an ending, but I like it. I guess that's mainly due to how much I liked the characters-I had no problems with the fact that none of them actually died. What I enjoy especially is after Muffy's explanation (she's going to set the island/house up as an inn with a horror story theme, and she was testing out its effectiveness), everyone parties to Three Dog Night's Mama Told Me (Not to Come)!
April Fool's Day's soundtrack is great!, from the kinda-creepy melodic opening theme, to the tense music, to the finale with Mama Told Me (Not to Come), and the funny end credits song!
The movie has some fun dialogue too!-"Guy, your fly is open and your hostess twinkie is hangin' out!"-"Arch is sweet, but he only has two expressions-collar up and collar down."...
Another great, GREAT thing about April Fool's Day is the scenery! It's awesome!
The acting in AFD is all good, with Amy Steel being cool as the kinda-final girl, and everyone else being good in their roles.
The 'violence' is all decent, but there isn't much. Pretty much the only graphic part is when Buck gets his 'face ripped off'.
So yes, I definitely recommend April Fool's Day! It's one of my favourite slasher films out there!...