April Fool’s Day

February 27, 2013 at 3:09 am (6 Heads, April Fool's Day) (, , , , , )

April Fool’s Day – 1986 – United States

On April Fools’ Day, horny college students are invited to stay at the island manor of their heiress friend. During the ferry ride, they joke and pull pranks until one falls overboard and a propeller hacks out his eyeball. Arriving on the island, the students quickly forget the tragedy amid the manor’s endless pranks—whoopee cushions, exploding cigars, collapsing chairs, and leaky wine glasses. As the students joke and screw the weekend away, the murders begin. It seems the heiress Muffy’s deranged twin Buffy escaped the asylum and is beheading and castrating the manor’s guests. But the joke is on you. The bloody situation is actually an impossibly elaborate trick meant to scare the students. After much howling laughter and spraying champagne, everyone is okay after all.

Amazingly, I was blindsided by April Fool’s Day’s ending. In retrospect, it seems obvious, but the flick’s darkly serious tone never suggests tomfoolery. Prior to the ridiculous twist, April Fool’s Day is an effective slasher whose careful pacing and characterization create compelling mystery. Present is the bloodshed and sexuality associated with the slasher genre, but April Fool’s Day doesn’t cheapen itself with outrageous gore and nudity. In fact, pretty much every murder takes place off-screen, as necessitated by the deceptive plot.

I might watch April Fool’s Day again to notice any cunning clues alluding to the fake-out ending, but I suspect I’ll be disappointed. While April Fool’s Day is memorably entertaining, it certainly isn’t clever. If nothing else, April Fool’s Day at least celebrates an underappreciated holiday—an honor shared by Groundhog Day (1993).

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. A brief internet search reveals I’m not the only one enamored by April Fool’s Day’s credit roll song. It’s written by Charles Bernstein, composer for Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), and Inglourious Basterds (2009). “Too bad you’re crazy!—Too bad you’re loony as hell!—So long, we coulda been swell—together!”

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