APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986) Reviews and overview

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Scream Factory has announced that they are releasing a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of supposedly satirical slasher April Fool’s Day on March 24th 2020.

April Fool’s Day came along after the highs of the early ’80s and when the genre was starting to lapse into self-parody and onscreen characters had ever-worse haircuts and fashion sense. Meanwhile, the MPAA was taking a stronger and stronger stance against onscreen gore. Read a selection of reviews below for a movie that fans seem to either love or hate. We’re in the latter category…


‘Guess who’s going to be the life of the party?’

April Fool’s Day is a 1986 American horror feature film produced by Friday the 13th 2-6 producer Franco Mancuso Jr. (Species films) and released by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Fred Walton (The Stepford Husbands; I Saw What You DidWhen a Stranger Calls), from the screenplay by written Danilo Bach. The movie stars Jay Baker, Deborah Foreman, Griffin O’Neal and Amy Steel (Friday the 13th Part II).

The original music score was composed by Charles Bernstein (The Entity, A Nightmare on Elm Street).

A straight-to-DVD remake was released in March 2008. Though it retains the original’s concept, the story and characters are radically altered and made more contemporary.

A group of eight college friends gather together at an island mansion belonging to heiress Muffy St. John to celebrate their final year of school. They soon discover that each has a hidden secret from their past which is revealed, and soon after, they turn up dead.

Yet, are they really dead? Or is it just part of some very real and cruel April Fool’s jokes? The hostess, Muffy, is the only one who apparently knows what’s going on. But then again, is it really her doing the killing?


Jeff Rovin’s novelisation features the notorious ending in which Skip sneaks back onto the island after everyone has left to kill Muffy for her share of the family money, though he fails and winds up dead himself. This ending has never been released, but stills of it have surfaced.

april 3

A revised draft of the script included another version of the above-mentioned ending in which Skip sneaks back onto the island to slay Muffy. He springs out of a closet and slits her throat, and she at first panics but realizes it is all a joke when she sees her friends standing around. The script then states that Skip stays on the island to help Muffy with the bed and breakfast.


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Reviews [may contain spoilers – click links to read more]:

“In many ways, it’s probably one the most imperfect endings that I’ve ever seen.  It requires a massive suspension of disbelief.  It makes no logical sense. But dammit, I love it.  Almost despite itself, it’s a great ending and it confirms that April Fool’s Day is meant to be a satire and not a straight horror film.” Through the Shattered Lens

“Slasher films are great; they’re fun but they are not realistic. So when April Fool’s Day attempts in its coda to explain all the preceding disappearances and “deaths” in a rational flashback – as a practical joke, a rehearsal for a “Whodunit Weekend,” the film totally and utterly deflates.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1980s

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“The film’s inventiveness lies within this approach and the way in which it sets up particular expectations, only to pull the proverbial rug out and catch us off guard. Side-stepping gratuitous violence in favour of sly humour and digs at the horror genre, April Fool’s Day is enjoyable viewing for fans of the slasher film and despite the predictable/not predictable outcome, is not as annoying as one might imagine. As nostalgic slasher’s go, it’s downright comforting to watch.” Behind The Couch

“Walton directs comfortably with finesse and flair in places and there’s a simple yet effective score that helps to keep things moving. I have seen studio stills that prove an alternative ending was filmed, which never saw light of day and it added an interesting slant, which I can’t ruin if you haven’t already watched this. As it stands, I think the movie works fine as is…” A Slash Above…


“Containing no gore, no tension and no nudity, this film has far too much levity for it ever to be taken seriously by horror aficionados. Amongst the cast of annoying characters is Thomas F. Wilson, taking a break from his Biff Tannen duties, who is surprisingly entertaining and almost raises a smile with his hi-jinks and pranks, but the biggest April’s Fools prank is the one played on the viewer, for wasting 85 minutes of their life.” Digital Retribution

” …ultimately as plastic and flaccid as the 1980s itself. Simply described – a witless collision of Friday the 13th and The Breakfast Club.” Christopher Wayne Curry, co-author of A Taste of Blood: The Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis


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“The film scores high on the character factor, writing its generic-on-paper cast roster into deeper beings. The kinky couple have feelings too, the jock isn’t a macho asshole and the bookworm mightn’t be as dorky as she makes herself out to be. Walton […] attempts to crank tension with moody shots of the island, the interior of the house and one of those creepy tick-tock clocks where the cat’s eyes move back and forth…” Vegan Voorhees

“To call April Fool’s Day tiresome would be an understatement. It takes forever to actually get going forcing us to put up with characters that just aren’t that interesting before the kills start-up. Oh yes, the kills. Let us talk about disappointment. Seeing as the makers of the Friday movies were behind this, you’d be apt to expect all sorts of over-the-top bloodshed, but what do we get instead? Nothing.” The Video Graveyard

Paramount Pictures released April Fool’s Day theatrically on March 27, 1986.

Also released as:
Week-end de terreur
A Noite das Brincadeiras Mortais
Die Horror-Party
Eglima tin protaprilia
Inocentada sangrienta
Pesce d’Aprile
Prima Aprilis

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