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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

April Fool's Day

     APRIL FOOL'S DAY is one of my absolute, all-time favorite slashers, kids. Words cannot express my love and devotion to this film. So much to love here, as it's from the producers of the first four FRIDAY THE 13TH films- and it does have that special feel to it. There are some decent scares, some great atmosphere, the acting is above average, and the script is far more clever and amusing than your typical slasher, not to mention it  has Deborah Foreman (VALLEY GIRL, WAXWORK) and Amy Steel (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2), who help make this movie. This film would not work without these two actresses, and that's a testament to their talents.

        Deborah plays heiress Muffy St. John, a known prankster who has invited her college buds up to her summer island home for the weekend. Of course, being on an island, they find themselves isolated and alone until the following Monday, when the ferry makes its return. And being college kids, the obvious pranks and jokes ensue- but soon the weekend takes a dark, scary turn as people actually start to disappear. Kit, played by the marvelous Amy Steel, is our tough and no-nonsense final girl here once again, and she quickly gets her Scooby-Doo on to unravel the mystery of Muffy and her mysterious island house.  All the while desperately trying to stay alive while everyone around her starts to drop dead...

     What sets this one apart from most run-of-the-mill slashers is that it's actually more of a mystery in the same vein as Agatha Christine's "Ten Little Indians"- and not just an excuse to get a bunch of people together to kill them off. Lots of red herrings and clues abound- is there really a homicidal maniac loose on the island, or is it all just an elaborate April Fool's joke? APRIL FOOL'S DAY is not quite a spoof of slashers, but yet it's not quite serious either... And that's what's refreshing about it- it gleefully sends up every slasher cliche in the book, yet still manages to throw in some good, solid scares along the way.  There's soooooo much to love in APRIL FOOL'S DAY!  

     Deborah Foreman's performance, for one.  She's spectacularly chilling and she kills it here. Her character and mannerisms are 100% unnerving- her off kilter speech patterns, her blank stares- you really believe her acting. She comes across as truly insane and in my opinion it's one of the great performances of the 80's. Amy Steel kicked ass in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 and is just as awesome in this- why she never became a full-tilt-boogie scream queen is a cryin' shame. Love her! In my opinion, APRIL FOOL'S DAY could just possibly be one of the coolest and most intelligent of all the 80's slashers. It's extremely well-written, the characters are very likable, the film moves along at a great pace, and never lags for a second. Director Fred Walton makes the most of the material here, and fellow actors Deborah Goodrich, Clayton Rohner, Thomas F. Wilson, Ken Olandt, Leah Pinsent, and Griffin O'Neal are all outstanding in their respective roles and truly round out a remarkable cast.

     APRIL FOOL'S DAY came along at an interesting time in the 80's. This was when scary movies didn't feel the need to bombard us with big-name stars. These days directors feel the need to throw in as many big names as possible, which can be distracting. APRIL FOOL'S DAY wisely avoids that, and instead gives us a handful of talented character actors who make the most of the material they're given. The film sounds great as well, as Charles Bernstein, who also did the score to the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, delivers an eerie and wonderful soundtrack. As the wonderful tagline for the film says, it's certainly a 'cut' above the rest...


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