Virginia Wainwright is proud that she belongs to a clique with the best students at a private school. But before her 18th birthday, a grueling series of murders take place and her friends ... See full summary »
J. Lee Thompson
Melissa Sue Anderson,
A group of eight college friends gather together at an island mansion belonging to heiress Muffy St. John to celebrate their final year of school. They soon discover that each has a hidden secret from their past which is revealed, and soon after, they turn up dead. Yet, are they really dead? Or is it just part of some very real and cruel April Fool's jokes? The hostess, Muffy, is the only one who apparently knows what's going on. But then again, is it really her doing the killing? Written by
April Fool's Day has just the right smarts about it that it holds up extremely well, even all these years later. While the cast may be youthful, the characters and story set this film way above "teen" slasher or horror flicks. Mainly, because this is really a mystery in the vein of Ten Little Indians.
It's a good thing I saw this film in a theatre when it was first released in 1986 -- because the VHS cover has something on it that would have kept me AWAY if I had not seen the film already: "It's just what you'd expect from the producer who brought you Friday the 13th -- Parts Two, Three, Four, and Five." You just can't put April Fool's Day in the same category as those films! This is far superior in story and intelligence. It's clever, well-written, and has great characters that you like even if they are not so nice! These days it seems it's more important to find the most popular actors, and that is usually distracting and doesn't guarantee a good film. April Fool's Day had lesser known stars for that time (Deborah Foreman, Amy Steel, Clayton Rohner, Griffin O'Neal) and that worked as an advantage.
The basic premise of a group of college students stuck on an island in a big house and one by one they disappear, yes, it's been done in many variations before. But the clever execution of the story, red herrings, and the underrated Deborah Foreman's delightful portrayal of Muffy/Buffy all make for a really fun viewing experience. Foreman has just the right amount of sweetness and can go right into being just plain quirky with such ease. The touch of having dolls on the dinner table, sort of like name tags, will bring a giggle and a smile for sure!
One plus for this film is the fact that it didn't sink into the tiring T & A route. Sure, a few of the characters have sex on the brain but their actions and dialogue never really wander off into the gratuitous area. Guys, if you really want lots of breasts than just go ahead and get some porn or a Playboy video, okay? Let the rest of us enjoy a good story once in a while!
After the body count rises and things escalate into a tense and frenzied chase through the house, you'll be surprised at what happens next. April Fool's Day is one of the few films of this kind that actually had a very surprising reveal and I was even caught off guard, left with my jaw agape at what the whole deal was about. The BIG surprise just happens so...abruptly, that you feel just like the character that runs into the room -- just stuck for a second! After about 90 minutes of mystery, the payoff BETTER be good, and sure enough, this one doesn't disappoint! I'm especially thrilled to have picked up the eerie soundtrack by Charles Bernstein on vinyl when it first came out, and to this day love to give it a spin on the turntable.
Paramount has a vast library of films that just NEED to be given great treatment on DVD, and I'm crossing my fingers that films like April Fool's Day, Let's Scare Jessica To Death, and Polanski's film The Tenant will be given their glory. >
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