April Fool’s Day is definitely a slasher film that benefits from viewers’ initial expectations. Its box art, its holiday title, and its opening setup – teens heading to an island mansion for a birthday bash – all hint at the most generic slasher setups of the time, and by 1986, all of these had been done to death – pun intended. And at this point, slasher parodies like Student Bodies and Wacko had already explored the more comedic elements of the genre. But director Fred Walton and writer Danilo Bach decided to combine both the serious and the silly into one film: a movie that delivers constant fake-outs to both its characters and its audience.
The conceit works so well because Walton commits to it. The opening sequences of the film are pitch-perfect slasher elements: omens, horny teens, a quick violent accident, and then proceeding to an abandoned location against any sane person’s better judgment. Deborah Foreman is perfect as the birthday girl Muffy, who is often cowed and mysterious but also prone to playing practical jokes. It’s her presence that throws off the audience; the expectation is that she’ll become a final girl, but April Fool’s Day never really makes clear who the audience is supposed to root for. Besides Muffy, is it Nikki (Deborah Goodrich), the hypersexed girl who’s stronger than she first appears? Or maybe it’s Kit (Amy Steel), here expressly meant to conjure up her performance in 1981’s Friday the 13th Part II. The film doesn’t answer that question until the very end, but even then, the viewer is presented with so many differing characters and points of view that rooting for just one of them seems cruel.
The other reason April Fool’s Day succeeds is because it follows through with its deaths. While Walton employs the formulaic cutaways, he does so in a way that truly seems to imply gruesome demise. Bodies in the well and good makeup sell the pranks even more. It’s a film where the viewer is out of the joke, only to be pulled in during the final moments just like the rest of the characters. This allows the viewer to feel like they’re part of the party and less like a passive observer.
Slasher fans will find a lot to enjoy in April Fool’s Day, and its offerings will certainly cater to those that know the cadence of the subgenre. But others should also find this an entertaining watch, if only for the joke it plays on the unsuspecting first-time viewer.
Our extensive gallery of screenshots from this Blu-ray.
Scream Factory gives April Fool’s Day a new Blu-ray release as part of their Collector’s Edition series. This release does not give the film a new transfer (not unexpected due to Paramount Pictures) but it does use an existing HD transfer that could possibly be the same as one that has been available digitally. Whatever the source, the film still looks very good; there’s a healthy consistent grain scale, a lush color palette, and even detail throughout with little softness. Skin tones and black levels are all consistent and fans should appreciate the film’s representation here even without a new scan.
Audio includes both a 5.1 and a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Both sound good, with the 2.0 being the more accurate representation of the film’s audio. The 5.1 Spek below does show some minor volume discrepancies, but overall both are good in their own right. English subtitles are also included without flaw.
Scream’s Collector’s Edition generally provide a bevy of extras and this one is no different. First is a new two-part interview with Fred Walton running over 40 minutes in total; the first part is entirely his past career work, and the second continues that with an April Fool’s Day discussion in the latter half. Next up is an interview with Deborah Goodrich Royce, diving into her career and then spending only a few minutes on the film – she does talk about having a script for a sequel to this film somewhere that she really needs to find! Clayton Rohner also shows up to discuss his character’s role and the distancing from his real persona that helped him excel at it. Composer Charles Bernstein talks about the marrying of synth and guitar parts to form the soundtrack for the film. Finally, cinematographer Charles Minsky talks about shooting the film in Vancouver, BC. All told, we’re looking at about two hours of new interviews. My only complaint is that most of the interviews take far too long to get to the film itself – we don’t need a career backstory for everyone.
Also included are theatrical trailer and TV spots, as well as the reversible cover artwork and slipcover.
NEWHorror With A Twist – An Interview With Director Fred Walton (HD; two parts; 23:58 & 23:02)
NEW Well Of Lies – An Interview With Actress Deborah Goodrich Royce (HD; 16:32)
NEWLooking Forward To Dessert – An Interview With Actor Clayton Rohner (HD; 17:15)
NEWBloody Unforgettable – An Interview With Composer Charles Bernstein (HD; 26:00)
NEWThe Eye Of Deception – An Interview With Cinematographer Charles Minsky (HD; 17:23)
Theatrical Trailer (unrestored HD; 1:42)
Original TV Spots (unrestored HD; 1:35)
April Fool's Day is a delightful slasher that doesn't have a body count. Scream Factory has done a great job on this release; anyone hoping to finally own this should pick up this Blu-ray.