April Fool's Day (1986 film)
|April Fool's Day|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fred Walton|
|Produced by||Frank Mancuso, Jr.|
|Written by||Danilo Bach|
|Music by||Charles Bernstein|
|Edited by||Bruce Green|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Budget||$5 million (est.)|
|Box office||$12.9 million|
April Fool's Day is a 1986 American mystery horror film directed by Fred Walton and starring Deborah Foreman, Amy Steel, and Ken Olandt. The plot details a group of college students on a weekend getaway at the island estate of their wealthy classmate, which is infiltrated by a killer. The original music score was composed by Charles Bernstein.
On the weekend leading up to April Fools' Day, a group of college friends, consisting of Harvey, Nikki, Rob, Skip, Nan, Chaz, Kit and Arch, gather to celebrate spring break by spending the weekend at the island mansion of Skip's cousin, Muffy St. John. The tone is set almost immediately, with Muffy preparing details around the house when she finds an old jack-in-the-box she remembers in a flashback sequence. Her friends, meanwhile, joke around on the pier while awaiting the ferry. En route to the island, as their antics become more boisterous, local deckhand Buck is seriously injured in a gruesome accident.
Once on the island, it turns out that Muffy has set up a variety of pranks throughout the mansion, ranging from simple gags such as a whoopee cushion and dribble glasses and exploding cigars to more complex and disturbing pranks, such as an audiotape of a baby crying in someone's room and heroin paraphernalia in a guest's wardrobe. In spite of this, the group try to relax, until Skip goes missing, and Kit catches a glimpse of what looks like his dead body. Soon, Arch and Nan also go missing. During a search for the pair, Nikki falls into the island's well, where she finds the severed heads of Skip and Arch, along with the dead body of Nan. The remaining group members then discover that the phone lines are dead and there is no way to get off the island until Monday.
One after another, members of the group either vanish or get killed before their bodies are found. After putting some clues together, Kit and Rob realize that everyone's earlier assumption is wrong; the kinsman of the deckhand injured when they arrived is a red herring. It also turns out that Muffy has a violently insane twin sister named Buffy, who has escaped. In fact, the "Muffy" they have been around since the first night was Buffy, pretending to be Muffy. They discover Muffy's severed head in the basement.
Buffy chases them with a curved butcher's knife, and the couple gets separated. Kit flees from Buffy by escaping into the living room where she finds everyone else there, alive and calmly waiting for her. It was all a joke, or more accurately, a dress rehearsal. It is revealed to the audience that the whole film was never a slasher film from the start, but rather pretending to be one. Muffy hopes to turn the mansion into a resort offering a weekend of staged horror. She even had a friend who does special effects and make-up in Hollywood help. Each "victim" agreed to take part as things were explained to them.
Everyone has a huge laugh and they break out lots of bottles of champagne. Later that night, a half-drunk Muffy goes to her room and finds a wrapped present on her bed. She unwraps it, and the present is the jack-in-the-box. Savoring the surprise, she turns the handle slowly and when "Jack" finally pops out, Nan, who knew Muffy from acting class, emerges from behind her and slits her throat with a razor. Muffy screams, but then realizes she is not really bleeding and that Nan used a trick razor and stage blood. The film ends with the jack-in-the-box winking at the audience.
- Jay Baker as Harvey Edison, Jr.
- Deborah Foreman as Muffy/Buffy St. John
- Deborah Goodrich as Nikki Brashares
- Ken Olandt as Rob Ferris
- Griffin O'Neal as Skip St. John
- Leah Pinsent as Nan Youngblood
- Clayton Rohner as Chaz Vyshinski
- Amy Steel as Kit Graham
- Thomas F. Wilson as Arch Cummings
- Tom Heaton as Constable Potter
- Mike Nomad as Buck
- Lloyd Beery as Ferryman
- Pat Barlow as Clara
April Fool's Day was released in the U.S. on 1,202 screens and earned $3.4 million during its opening weekend, going on to gross a total of $12.9 million domestically.
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Upon its initial release, April Fool's Day was generally well received by film critics. In a complimentary review for The Washington Post, Paul Attanasio wrote that "The suspense sequences are stylishly managed, and Walton has attractively cast the movie with a number of natural, if unexciting, actors. There is a suburban princess and a jock and a Junior Achievement type and so forth, none of which qualifies Bach for screen writer of the year, but it's remarkable how effective even these elementary efforts at characterization are in the context of the film." AllMovie wrote, "Amid the glut of gory horror films that clogged the cable schedules and cineplexes in the wake of Halloween and Friday the 13th, April Fool's Day stands out as a fairly restrained exercise in the '80s teen slasher genre," commenting that it "has more rollercoaster thrills than most slasher flicks with five times the gore."
The film holds a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes.
For its home video premiere in the 1980s, it was released to both videocassette and LaserDisc. It has since been released to DVD on three separate occasions. The first edition was made available in September 2002. It was then included as one of the films on a triple-feature disc that also included Tales from the Darkside: The Movie and Stephen King's Graveyard Shift in August 2007. Eight months later, in March 2008, it was offered as a double feature with My Bloody Valentine. The double-feature disc is the only format in which the film is currently available, and none of the editions have included any special features.
A soundtrack for the film was released in 1986 on vinyl only. The soundtrack consists of 19 songs and runs approximately 30:27. In 2015, as part of Varese Sarabande's LP to CD subscription series, the vinyl album was released on cd for the first time in a replica vinyl cardboard slip.
- "Main Title"
- "Choke a Dagger"
- "Pier Pressure"
- "All's Well That Ends"
- "Snakes Alive"
- "Stab in the Dark"
- "Hanging Around"
- "The House"
- "Trick or Threat"
- "Nan in Danger"
- "Sitting Duck"
- "Getting the Point"
- "Little Miss Muffy"
- "Muffy Attack"
- "First Victim"
A novelization of the film by Jeff Rovin was published in 1986 by Pocket Books alongside its theatrical release. This novelization features an alternate ending in which Skip sneaks back onto the island after everyone has left to kill Muffy for his share of the family money, though he fails and winds up dead himself. This ending has never been released, but stills of it have surfaced. A revised draft of the script included another version of the above-mentioned ending in which Skip sneaks back onto the island to kill Muffy. He springs out of a closet and cuts her throat. At first panics then realizes it's all a joke when she sees her friends standing around. The script then states that Skip stays on the island to help Muffy with the bed and breakfast.
- "April Fool's Day (1986)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
- "April Fool's Day (1986/I)". IMDB.
- "April Fool's Day". IMDB (Trivia).
- Attanasio, Paul (March 29, 1986). "'April': More Than Hack Work". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
- Dillard, Brian J. "April Fool's Day - Review - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- "April Fool's Day (1986) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
- Rovin, Jeff. April Fool's Day: A Novel. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-671-62444-6.
- "April Fool's Day (2008)". IMDb.
- "April Fool's Day". Allmovie.
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