18. April Fool’s Day (1986)
I was lucky enough to pick up April Fool’s Day (1986) in a “2 DVD Set” (the cover lies, it’s actually one double-sided disc) with My Bloody Valentine (1981) for five dollars at a Wal-Mart in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a great deal. I hadn’t seen either of those movies since I was a kid, and April Fool’s Day hadn’t been the easiest to get a hold of until I found this disc. Apparently, it’s actually the only format in which April Fool’s Day is available right now (obviously you can still get it on eBay or Amazon from second-hand sellers) but I am not complaining due to the insanely low cost, and what I consider to be a pretty good transfer.
The movie stars Deborah Foreman, who I love: she also stars in Valley Girl, which is one of my favorite movies with one of the best movie soundtracks, and 1988’s Waxwork, which isn’t terrible. Looking at her IMDB page though, it looks like she also had a small role in Real Genius, which is another of my favorites. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for her next time I watch it. Also, there is apparently a remake in the works, and I was prepared to get all pissy about how Valley Girl wouldn’t be Valley Girl in the 2000s, until I learned that it is going to be an 80s musical. It now has my blessings/total encouragement, obviously.
More importantly, it looks like she was in a movie called Lunatics: A Love Story (1991), co-starring…Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell? Here is the plot summary:
A delusional and paranoid poet hallucinates and almost becomes a serial killer, but saves a beautiful girl from street-gang members and becomes a hero. Written by email@example.com. (thanks, frankfob2!)
How have I not seen or heard of this movie? That is a bigger mystery than the mystery of who the killer is in this film.
The premise of the film is that Muffy Sinclair is a really rich girl who goes to Vassar, and who just inherited her family’s summer house, which is on an island only accessible by ferry. The first scene we see is Muffy (Deborah Foreman) organizing her basement before her friends arrive, which is the first hint that she is up to something. She even assures her maid that the party she is throwing for her friends this weekend is going to be “bloody unforgettable.”
While poking around the basement, she finds a jack-in-the-box that she received on her birthday as a child, and has a birthday flashback to her youth. For some reason, only adults were invited to her party even though she was a kid. When she received the jack-in-the-box, which looked totally innocuous and had a cute duck on the side, she spun the handle and out popped this horrifying monster that growled at her:
To add insult to injury, all of the adults at the party laugh at her when she gets scared. This rivals Damien’s birthday in The Omen for Worst Birthday Ever. It actually might beat it, because Muffy wasn’t the Antichrist and so you can’t make any excuses about how she “deserved” it or liked it.
So you know right away that Muffy is going to be at least a little fucked up because she was traumatized as a child and had terrible parents who liked to scare her and invite their friends over to watch their kid get scared.
Then we meet all of her college friends who are coming on the ferry to Muffy’s house. They are (prepare for screencap overload):
Also, the Constable, Muffy’s boring distant cousin Skip, the ferryman, and the ferryman’s assistant Buck are on board as well.
Fake Rob Lowe has a video camera and is telling all of the boys that their flies are down as a joke, but then Biff and boring cousin Skip do a serious prank in which it looks like Skip gets stabbed in the stomach with a knife accidentally. It is pulled off way too realistically (and in a half a second) to have been done without a special effects crew or at least some kind of professional makeup artist, but I guess these kids are mostly rich so they can afford to plan things like that.
Unfortunately, Buck dives in the water to save Skip, and gets his face smashed by the ferry. Not good.
They finally get to Muffy’s house, and Muffy plays some funny tricks on them (champagne glasses with holes in them, etc.) Someone is also planting fucked up things in the guests’ rooms, like a recording of a baby crying in the room of one of the girls who had gotten an abortion.
People start to die in interesting ways and it would ruin the movie if I went into too much detail, because it really is a pretty good slasher. Muffy starts to look obviously deranged and we begin to suspect that she is actually Muffy’s insane twin sister Buffy.
Stop reading here if you don’t want to know the end to the movie.
I like this movie a lot, but I really didn’t like the twist in the end, both because you could see it from a mile away, and because it just didn’t really make much sense.
It turns out…it was all a prank! Well, it was a “dress rehearsal” for Muffy’s plan for the house…she is going to turn it into a murder mystery themed bed and breakfast! Except those guests will know it is fake, so this really wasn’t anything like a dress rehearsal. Also, who did Buck’s makeup when he staged his ferry-related injury? It happened in less than an instant, and I don’t know anyone who can apply makeup that good, that fast, while in the water. I know it is a campy slasher/mystery and I shouldn’t care, but it was actually a really good movie up until the end, and then it sort of ruined it with an improbable twist ending a la Haute Tension.
I think the movie would have been great if Muffy’s evil sister Buffy actually existed and offed everyone.
Plausibility of twist ending: 3/10
Movie up until that point, as far as 80s slashers go: 7/10
Awesomeness of purchasing this and MBV on dvd for 5 dollars: 8/10
Anne rating: 6/10