Note: This review appeared previously on The Vern’s Videovanguard.
April Fools Day (1986)
Cast: Deborah Foreman, Thomas F Wilson
Writer: Daniel Bach
Director Fred Walton
By the mid 80’s the slasher genre was a big boom at the box office. Everyone knew the basic template. Get a bunch of kids to a remote location and than one by one start killing them off. Of course in each of these slasher movies, you have to up the ante and present more gruesome and elaborate deaths than the last one. What sets “April Fools Day“ apart from the others is that even though it follows the same basic plot structure. It’s outcome isn’t quite the same as those other films about people getting sliced and diced.
The story involves a group of college students who come out to a lake house in April for some sex,drinking, more sex, and practial jokes. After all this does take place during April fools Day and what better way to spend a weekend than play some jokes with friends. But when people start turning up murdered. The jokes stop and the real terror begins.
I might have gotten that last line from the description on the back of the VHS box. There really is not that much terror or suspense and the mystery is only mildly interesting. None of the characters are all that likable, but at the same time I never fully hated them either. So when they started getting killed off I wasn’t scared for them nor was I cheering for their execution either. Although there is one scene where a guy loses his best friend that did make me wince for obvious reasons.
I like that instead of being meta about the horror genre like the “Scream” franchise did and have characters who have seen these movies before. “April Fools Day” is meta in that none of these characters fall into the usual trappings or cliches that are found in most of these films. In one moment it’s the guy who runs away in fear while the girl stays to protect her friends. The virginal girl is no longer the lone survivor at the end, because in this movie everyone is getting laid( it was a common term in the 80’s). It also avoids any stories about the killer’s origins that have been seen before. Plus it shows no one being actually killed. We only get to see their bodies afterwards and even then it’s only just a little gruesome .
Not everyone is going to love this flick, but I had an alright time watching it. I would have giving this more stars if they established more potential suspects than what is actually shown. When the murders begin happening, only one of the characters immediately begins acting odd and very different than before. Which felt out of place because it removed any of the mystery I might have had about the others. The very end scene and the song used at the end credits are what made me like the movie. Yet I predict many of you will have sincere problems with it. Keep in mind too the time period this was released. Horror movies have evolved quite a bit since 1986, and what scared people back than will not scare people now. I won’t say that it’s just forgettable nor will I say it will be remembered At just barely ninety minutes this never felt like a waste of time for me, and I might go back and revisit this again. If not for me than just to show some friends.