Blu-ray Review: April Fool’s Day (Collector’s Edition)

All major holidays deserve a horror film for those who wish to celebrate with more than a romantic Hallmark movie. This is true for those special days when the banks don’t close. Why should Halloween and Friday the 13th only get the devious cinematic treatment? Back in 1986, April 1st finally had a movie to call its own with April Fool’s Day. While the teen slasher craze had died down by this point, the film figured a way to play on the conventions of the genre, it blazed a new path to fool an audience expectations like a good April Fool’s Day prank. April Fool’s Day: Collector’s Edition lets you know what’s real in this getaway nightmare.

Muffy St. John (Valley Girl‘s Deborah Foreman) has invited her cousin Skip (Assault of the Killer Bimbos‘s Griffin O’Neal) and his preppy college pals to a remote mansion on an island. They’re eager to celebrate April Fools Day all weekend long. The pranks start early when two of the guys decide to get into a fight on the dock waiting for the ferry. But things quickly get serious when a deckhand has a frightening accident as they land at the island. The ship’s captain has to rush off with the injured man. But this does not completely ruin the jovial spirit of the kids. They are ready to give each other the business with dribble glasses, whoopee cushions and exploding cigars. Buffy has stashed some rather kinky and disturbing items in her guests’ bedrooms. Although no one is too shocked. But then one of the guests turns up missing and someone swears they stumbled over the body. Is all this fun and games cover for a killer go to on a murder streak without anyone taking it serious until they take a knife in the face? Ask not who the whoopee cushion blows for – it blows for thee!

The film really pushes April Fool’s Day to an extreme. Deborah Foreman is quite charming as the hostess who wants everyone to get a special prank on the weekend. The rest of the cast works since none are too famous at the time to be easily defined as part of the trick or a tragic victim. They really come off as a group of annoying friends from college. These seem to be the kind of people who keep pushing pranks on each other and expecting it to be laughed off after a few drinks.

April Fool’s Day wasn’t a huge hit when Paramount released the movie to theaters in the Spring of 1986. Part of it was that the teen slasher craze had pretty much died down. At this point the focus was on the stars that scarred. Paramount was about to release Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives at the end of the summer. A movie that didn’t feature an unstoppable killer had become an anomaly at the box office. Plus the film wanted to keep viewers off kilter as to what they were seeing. Were people getting stabbed and beheaded for real or was this an April Fool’s Day joke being played on the other kids? Horror fans weren’t looking for a body count film with a body count that might change at the end. Luckily the rental VHS tape became a hit especially with people wanting a special movie to watch when April 1 rolled around. Don’t celebrate another April Fool’s Day without the collector’s edition.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The 1080p resolution beings out the details in the various pranks. You’ll see how that dribble glass really worked. The audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround. There’s also the original stereo mix in DTS-HD MA 2.0. You’ll get a clear sound of the whoopee cusions blowing under the various butts. The movie is subtitled in English.

Horror With A Twist (47:00) is a two part interview with director Fred Walton. He talks about making When A Stranger Calls which is perfect if you bought the recent Blu-ray and wish their was a good bonus feature, here it is. He gets deep into the casting of April Fool’s Day including being wowed by Deborah Foreman. He encourage a bit of improv out of his cast.

Well of Lies (16:32) lets Deborah Goodrich Royce gross you out with tales of what the crew did to the water she had to step inside. She recounts changing her career from being danced focused to more acting.

Looking Forward to Dessert (17:15) turns out Clayton Rohner grew up in showbiz since his father was a major lawyer and dealmaker in Los Angeles. His dad ended up owning Agnes Morehead’s house. He didn’t want to act with a goal of working in Alaska. He reveals how a “B” in a college course changed his career perspective. He enjoyed getting to work with director Fred Walton.

Bloody Unforgettable (26:00) interviews composer Charles Bernstein. He traces his love of composing for film back to his mother who used to play the organ at silent movies. She basically created instant scores for all those films. He discusses the process of making the score for April Fool’s Day and dealing with the temp track.

The Eye of Deception (17:23) gets into the shots with cinematographer Charles Minksky. He grew up with a grandfather that managed a movie theater so he got to see all the new films every Saturday. He talks of what he enjoys about working with the camera. Soon after this shoot, he’d be working on Pretty Woman.

Theatrical Trailer (1:42) promises an invitation to the party to end all parties.

TV Spots (1:35) gives a warning with Three Dog Nights’ “Mama Told Me Not to Come.” Two of the three commercials appear to be from Rhode Island. Did you see the film at Showcase Warwick or Seekonk?

Scream Factory present April Fool’s Day: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Fred Walton. Screenplay by: Danilo Bach. Starring: Jay Baker, Deborah Foreman, Deborah Goodrich, Ken Olandt, Griffin O’Neal, Leah King Pinsent, Clayton Rohner, Amy Steel & Thomas F. Wilson. Rated: R. Running Time: 88 minutes. Released: March 24, 2020.

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