April Fool’s Day: Collector’s Edition
Directed by: Fred Walton
Run time: 89 minutes
The Lowdown: The all-new collector’s edition of the mid-1980’s cult classic April Fool’s Day offers interesting insight, and context, into what appears to have been an early attempt to subvert traditional slasher genre tropes to create something fresh.
April Fool’s Day, for the initiated, was a curious mix of horror and humor that was surprisingly short on visceral bloodshed. The film, released in 1986, followed 10 friends during an island getaway shortly before college graduation as, one by one, the friends are picked off by an unseen assailant.
Watching it today, 34 years later, it might be easy to assume that director Fred Walton and writer Danilo Bach (who two years earlier was credited with creating the story that became Eddie Murphy’s smash Beverly Hills Cop) were striving to create a game changer, a la Scream, within the slasher genre, which at that point had been drained nearly dry of originality.
The film showcased an impressive cast of well-known actors at the time, including Deborah Foreman, best known for having starred in Valley Girl, Real Genius, My Chauffer, 3:15 and Waxwork.
But the entire cast was really a who’s who of early ‘80s cult classics, including Amy Steel (Friday the 13th Part II), Clayton Rohner (Just One of the Guys), Deborah Goodrich (Just One of the Guys), Ken Olandt (Summer School) and, of course, Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future).
And April Fool’s Day cemented its buzz by including an abrupt, and unexpected, twist in its final frames, a twist that literally was an April Fool’s joke on the audience.
Does that make it a good horror movie?
While April Fool’s Day did check off the majority of boxes for slasher flicks back then, the humor is wildly inappropriate, including a number of gags spotlighting the thinly veiled homophobia that often infused the genre. The characters are all mostly stereotypes. And the kills simply weren’t very inspired, likely due to the seeming mandate that there be precious little blood on display.
While it can be fun to revisit a quote-unquote classic, it also can prove to be a frustrating viewing experience, especially once you realize that the gags that goosed your teen-aged self now seem mostly lame in hindsight.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – Brief.
Gore – Minimal.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – The joke’s on you.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
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