Directed by Fred Walton [Other horror films: When a Stranger Calls (1979), I Saw What You Did (1988), Trapped (1989), Homewrecker (1992), When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)]
Though mired somewhat by a mixed reception, April Fool’s Day is a classic that I will never not enjoy.
A large part of this is due to all of the characters. In truth, the kills themselves are somewhat light, but the variety of characters here still add a lot of vitality to the movie, and the opening scenes, while almost overwhelming insofar character introductions (there are quite a few characters thrown at us that we need to keep track of), do a good job of showing us who we’ll be watching for the next hour and a half.
So let’s take an unnecessarily lengthy time and go over each and every cast-member, shall we?
Jay Baker cracks me up here. He plays the Texas boy Harvey, and he’s fun in pretty much every single scene he’s in. It helps that he wants to plow some fields wink wink. Deborah Goodrich (Nikki) never really stuck with me, but she’s in the movie, so she’s fine too. It helps that her name is Mary O’Reilly O’Toole O’Shea, and she fucks on the first date. You know who else is fine? Ken Olandt (Rob, who was also in Leprechaun), as he’s a solid protagonist and there’s little to really dislike him for.
Griffin O’Neil (Skip) is of good quality. No complaints. Leah Pinsent (Nan) is probably my favorite character, especially toward the end when she’s just trying to read her book in peace amidst the celebrations going on. I really find her a lot of fun here, as Nan is totally my type. Clayton Rohner (Chaz) is something else, and of course, in this case, ‘something else’ means a lot of fun. He also wants to hide the sausage with Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future, brah), and seeing Rohner and Wilson just goof around like that is a lot of fun.
I don’t know if Amy Steel stands out amidst the characters as much as she did earlier in Friday the 13th Part 2, but she still makes for a pretty solid focal point. It’s Deborah Foreman (my girl Muffy) who really shows talent, though her obviously different personality in the latter half of the film felt almost too telling (which I guess is the point, so I won’t complain). Foreman’s probably best well known for, aside from this one, Destroyer, Waxwork, Lobster Man from Mars, and the ever-classic Valley Girl (this last one is, unfortunately, not horror), and I definitely think she’s a lot of fun here, from beginning to end.
Certainly, it could be said the kills are lacking. Much of the action, such as it is, happens off-screen, and usually that would be at least a mild cause for concern, but it works here due to, one, the nature of the story, and secondly, you’re already having a lot of fun watching these guys hang out, mess around, and get fooled by fake cigars, so the fact that the blood is a bit light isn’t a giant issue.
As for the conclusion, I think it’s pretty suspenseful, and they really get all the juice they possibly could out of the situation (I do love it that when Kit finally figures out what’s going on, Rob is still bellowing in the background). It’s worth mentioning too that, even had I not loved the ending (and I’m not going as far as to say I loved it, but I never had a problem with it), it wouldn’t badly impact the rest of the film – look at Slaughter High. That had perhaps one of the worst endings imaginable, and it still rocks in awesomeness.
From the beautiful island setting to the collection of fun and playful characters (I really can’t get enough of the cast – fantastic job all around getting these performers together), April Fool’s Day has never disappointed me. It’s not the best the 80’s has to offer, but it is pretty damn good, and I’ll stand by that.
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss April Fool’s Day, a true classic.