April Fool’s Day (1986)

Synopsis:

A wealthy young woman invites nine classmates to her mansion located on a private island. A fun weekend with friends turns into a hellish nightmare when an unnamed assailant starts killing guests off one at a time.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Not bad, not bad at all re-imagining of Agatha Christie’s famous tale And Then There Were None (also known as Ten Little Indians). Who would have thought it? Believe it or not, Christie’s whodunit formula blends amusingly well with the sensibilities of a teen slasher of the 1980s.

After so many holiday-themed slashers — Silent Night Bloody NightHalloween, Friday the 13th, Christmas Evil, My Bloody Valentine, Happy Birthday to Me, etc. — it was no surprise to see a movie about April Fools’ Day. The film came out at the tail end of the slasher craze of the ’80s and April Fool’s Day seems to be aware that the vogue for these kinds of movies was about to end. It’s cheeky in places and the film ends, figuratively and literally, with a wink at the audience.

April Fool’s Day was directed by Fred Walton, who is better known for his terrifying 1979 classic When a Stranger Calls. The script is by Oscar-nominated writer Danilo Bach (Beverly Hills Cop). Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, Walton and Bach chose to playfully embrace genre clichés. They also don’t rush things, allowing ample time for character development. Some viewers might find the movie a bit on the slow side — it’s also far-fetched — but I appreciated the desire to provide something besides endless killings.

The casting is an inside joke, specifically Amy Steel (Friday the 13 Part 2), who plays, of course, the “final girl.” Griffin O’Neal (Ryan’s son) and Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future) are the jackasses. Leah Pinsent is virginal friend. Deborah Goodrich is the classic slut, and Clayton Rohner is the stereotypical over-sexed young man. Deborah Foreman, in dual roles, plays the characters that trigger the onslaught. All actors seem to be having fun and you like them for enjoying themselves.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

April Fool’s Day is a fun thriller that stays true to its title. The film’s self-awareness is one of its most endearing qualities. It anticipates the meta-crazy Scream by almost a decade. Some viewers have reacted negatively to the twisty finale, but I thought it was exactly what was needed at the time when the slasher genre was coming to an end. This is a sort of swan song to an era, laying the ground for the more cynical teen horror films of the 1990s and beyond. Color, 95 minutes, Rated R.

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10 responses to “April Fool’s Day (1986)

  1. Wow! This is quite literally where a lot of my thoughts landed when I saw this film a few days ago. So many of the same points are had as when wrote about it. Brilliant! Definitely my favorite slasher from this time period!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I didn’t like this film at all, thought it too preposterous even if judging it by its own standards, but I really liked the twist ending, enjoyed it immensely even knowing it was coming all along. It was nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

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