No holiday could pass the 1980s without being memorialised in the form of a slasher movie, be it Christmas Evil, My Bloody Valentine or Bloody New Year. This became untenable in the internet age when there became a day for everything, though there would probably be an audience for International Talk Like a Pirate Day Holocaust or International Men’s Day Massacre.
April Fool’s Day follows a group of teenagers (including Friday the 13th Part 2‘s Amy Steel and Back the the Future‘s Thomas F. Wilson) at an island mansion for an April Fool’s weekend of pranks that quickly spiral out of control, which wouldn’t work in the UK because it would have to be over by noon. Not that it makes any sense here, but there’s fun to be had from the film’s subversion of slasher tropes that were already tired by 1986. Eschewing the genre’s usual gore and gratuitous nudity, the picture plays more like a whodunnit than a typical slasher flick (Agatha Christie gets namechecked) and consequently disappointed audiences upon its release before becoming a cult favourite on home video (featuring the great artwork above).
Better produced than the Friday the 13th sequels (by the same producer, Frank Mancuso Jr.), April Fool’s Day starts with handheld camcorder footage which must have creeped audiences out in (generally) pre-found footage days. This introduces the archetypal teens who range from skirt-chasing douchebags to literature-quoting douchebags, then toys with these archetypes and makes fun of their obnoxiousness. One effective sequence sees Nikki (Deborah Goodrich) almost drown in a well then freak out when offered a glass of water, only to be reassured: “It’s alright, it’s Perrier.” A tricksy trolling of twist-thirsty teens, April Fool’s Day is entertaining nonsense even if a fool could predict the day’s end.