APRIL FOOL'S DAY
Review by Michael Jacobson
Deborah Foreman, Amy Steel, Ken Olandt, Thomas F. Wilson, Griffin
O’Neal, Leah Pinsent, Deborah Goodrich, Clayton Rohner, Jay Baker, Mike Nomad
Director: Fred Walton
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Length: 88 Minutes
Release Date: September 3, 2002
don’t you tell us something about yourself?”
want to work with handicapped children. And
my parents are my best friends. Oh,
and I start convent school next semester. And I f—k on the first date.”
still remember the first time I saw April Fool’s Day some 15 years ago.
I was amazed at the sheer audacity of its premise and the way it juggled
moods deftly…almost irresponsibly…to the point where you were completely at
its mercy, not knowing what it was going to do to you next!
led to screams, then back to laughs, then more screams, until the very unease
itself became part of the movie experience.
Were we supposed to be finding it funny? We were never sure if the director Fred Walton was a menace
or merely a jokester who took things too far.
Fool’s Day came
about midway through the 80s, but never seemed to find its place in the decade
that revitalized horror. With its
constantly shifting tones, it was possibly too hard to categorize.
After all, the horror “spoof” that we know so well today didn’t
really exist then, and even so, this wasn’t a self-parodying horror film at
all. The movie made fun of our
simple plot has a group of college students getting together for a spring break
weekend. They don’t all know each
other, but they are all connected in one way or another to their hostess, Muffy
(Foreman, and no, I didn’t make that name up).
She has invited them all to her luxurious island summer home for her
birthday (which happens to fall on April 1), for a couple of days of fun,
friendship, and practical jokes.
the holiday gets off to a bad start when a ferry accident leaves one of the
party horribly injured. As the
remaining kids try to make the best of their weekend, something seems
suspiciously wrong. The suspicions
are justified when one by one, members of the party start turning up dead.
does it all mean and who is doing it? I
don’t want to give too much away, but as the clues are pieced together, it
turns out there’s much more to Muffy than meets the eye.
She seems to know things about her guests that they’d rather keep
secret. And, as Steely Dan might
say, “where DID she get those shoes?”
film stays surprising, even if some of the twists seem a little deliberate.
Those who see it never seem to forget it, so I’d have to say it earns a
little more respect than what history has given it.
A good cast of young actors let us experience the mayhem through their
eyes. We don’t know what to
expect any more than they do, except that we know it’s bad when they do stupid
things like splitting up when they’re supposed to stay together.
But I guess if they ever didn’t, there’d be no more horror films…
I’m pleased enough that Paramount decided to put this underappreciated
gem onto DVD in the first place, but their anamorphic transfer ranks as one of
the best I’ve seen for films from the 80s!
Colors are well rendered and natural looking, images are sharp and clear,
detail level is strong, and no grain or compression mars the effects.
The print itself is quite clean, with only one or two brief instances of
shimmering caused by apparent aging. If
every movie from that decade looked as good as this, DVD fans would have plenty
to be happy about.
5.1 mix, no less! Though the rear
stage is mostly used for subtle music and ambience effects, and the subwoofer is
used sparingly, the open sound of the audio is quite effective.
Dialogue sounds full instead of thin, and panning effects, when used, are
done smoothly. The film’s final
two songs, which I won’t reveal here, are definitely unforgettable.