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|
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' 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.
A group of college friends--Harvey, Nikki, Rob, Skip, Nan, Chaz, Kit and Arch--gather to celebrate Spring Break by spending the weekend at the island mansion of their friend Muffy St. John, on the weekend leading up to April Fools' Day. The tone is set almost immediately, with Muffy preparing details around the house, and finds an old jack-in-the-box she remembers (in flashback). Her friends, meanwhile, are joking around on the pier, then on the ferry to the island. But en route to the island, Buck, a local deckhand, is seriously injured in a gruesome accident.
Once on the island and in the mansion, it turns out Muffy has set up a variety of little jokes, from the simple (whoopee cushions, dribble glasses, etc.) to the more complex and disturbing (an audiotape of a baby crying in someone's room, heroin paraphernalia in a guest's wardrobe, etc.) Through it all, the friends, in general, try to relax. But then, Skip goes missing. Kit catches a glimpse of what looks like his dead body. Next, Arch and Nan also go missing. During a search, Nikki falls into the island's well -- and finds the severed heads of Skip and Arch and the dead body of Nan. Afterward, the remaining group discover that the phones are dead...and there is no way to get off the island until Monday.
One after another, people keep vanishing or being killed and their bodies being found. Kit and Rob put together some clues, realizing that everyone's earlier assumption is wrong. The kinsman of the deckhand injured when they arrived is a red herring. Muffy, it turns out, has a violently insane twin sister, 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 are separated. Kit flees from Buffy 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 movie 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 for Hollywood help. Each "victim" agreed to take part as things were explained to them.
Everyone has a huge laugh and break out lots of bottles of champagne. Later that night, a half-drunk Muffy goes to her room. She finds a wrapped present on her bed. Grinning, she unwraps it. It is the Jack-in-the-Box. Savoring the surprise, she turns the handle slowly. When "Jack" finally pops out, Nan — the shy, bookish girl 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. She "got" her with 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
April Fool's Day was filmed in British Columbia, Canada with an estimated budget of $5,000,000. The film was released in the U.S. on 1,202 screens and earned $3,373,779 its opening weekend.
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."
Horror Homeroom gives the film a positive review, writing that it is a "tight little time capsule for the 1980s," offers strong, resourceful female characters, and delivers "one of the best endings in horror history."
The film holds a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jeff Rovin's novelization features the notorious ending in which Skip sneaks back onto the island after everyone has left to kill Muffy for her 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 slay Muffy. He springs out of a closet and slits her throat, and she at first panics but realizes it is 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.
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.
- Track listing
- "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"
- "April Fool's Day (1986)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
- "April Fool's Day (1986/I)". IMDB.
- "April Fool's Day". IMDB (Trivia).
- Dillard, Brian J. "April Fool's Day - Review - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- Hofmann, Gwen. "Review of April Fool's Day". Retrieved 2015-05-01.
- "April Fool's Day (1986) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
- "April Fool's Day (2008)". IMDb.
- "April Fool's Day". Allmovie.