Wednesday, January 19, 2011

April Fools Day (1986)

“That’s really funny, you guys. Really funny. Fuck you!”


Holiday movies were all over the place during the 1980s. Actually, horror in general was all over the place in the 1980s. Slasher films, especially were the big thing during that decade. And by first glancing at the video box that is exactly what you think and what you are meant to think April Fool’s Day is. I bought this movie without even viewing it first. On the video box, is a party and in the foreground is a girl raising a glass of champagne, but holding a rather large knife behind her back. That image alone sold me on the movie.

The movie follows a group of teenagers (as usual) as they have planned to spend their spring break with their friend Muffy St. John (Foreman) at her parent’s house on a secluded island (of course, right?). They all think they are going there for a week away from everything. A week that could easily be filled with sex, drugs and alcohol. Well, right from the beginning everything goes wrong, starting with a terrible accident on the ferry to the island. Everything seems to be going fine after that. They have a little celebration, the first night, but then Muffy starts acting weird starting with the second day, turning from a gorgeous young lady to what I can describe as a bag lady. People start turning up missing, and it’s up to our final girl to figure everything out and save the day.

Before you read the rest of this review, I suggest you see the movie first because I am going to give away the ending. You’ve been warned.

It turns out that Muffy has started her own business at this house, no one actually dies in this movie, and I think that is why a lot of people were turned off by this movie. I for one, think that is the reason why this movie is so great. In 1986, slasher films where one person after another is killed off for reason. But, April Fool’s Day fools us all (pun intended, totally!). Muffy has decided to create this whole weekend where guests at the house will go through what all these teenagers went through, wondering about their hostess and having people disappear and the interesting fact of the secret twin Buffy. Throughout the whole movie, the audience thinks that people are dying off. You see something happen to the character, but you don’t actually see them die. Then at the very end of the movie, we are thrown into a room along with the character on screen and we see everyone we thought had died are still alive. When I first saw this movie, without really thinking about it, I too thought I saw people dying. Because that is how the movie is directed and how it is meant to look. At the end I was confused as hell, probably just as much as people were when this was first viewed in 1986.

April Fool’s Day is one of my favorite horror movies because it simply tricks you into thinking you are seeing a basic 80s slasher film, when you are really not seeing that. It still is a horror movie, because a majority of the movie makes you think that people are dying, and the realness of horror is to scare people, not to kill people, somewhere along the line that became the norm for horror movies and that is not the case. Look at the Universal monster movies of the 1930s and 1940s, people aren’t killed off left and right, they simply scared people. And that is what this film has done.