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dwatts
06-30-2004, 01:44 AM
Stuck between genres, playing hide and seek with our expectations, April Fool's Day presents us with a horror movie even our parents might enjoy. It's like the old William Castle films, with the addition of reasonably well created mid-80's gore. Lots of nod nod wink wink, almost nudity, almost bloody, almost frightening, almost funny movie making. It's almost a lot of things. But what actually IS it?

STORY

A group of college friends gather together at an island mansion belonging to Foreman to celebrate their final year of school. They soon discover that each has a hidden secret and as they are revealed they end up dead. Yet are they really dead or are they just part of the very real and cruel April Fool's jokes. The hostess is the only one who knows what's going on but then again is it really her? (From IMDB)

COMMENTARY

April Fool's Day is a film that wasn't trying to be original at the time it was made. It shares a lot of attributes with slashers made around the same time, and it certainly wasn't trying to extend the genre in any way. Well, that was until the twist ending that not only comes as a surprise, but might also make you want to throw things at the screen (which might be fun at a multiplex, but isn't so much fun when you have to clean it up afterwards).

The girls are pretty, the guys have rippling muscles, and the script has them stating the obvious from scene one. It really all could have wound up being a complete and utter nightmare (and not in a good way) movie. However, sometimes help comes from odd places, and in the case of this film, it was Charles Minsky. Who? Minksy was the cinematographer, and given a nice 2.35:1 ratio to work with, he works wonders. The composition of the shots belie the underlying material. When I was watching this DVD, I just couldn't take my eyes off the screen. The location and the camera work is impeccable. It just goes to show you, good things can come from bad ingredients.

Of course, this film also has that dubious distinction of having no-one else in it that went on to do anything of note (bar one that appeared in the Back to the Future series). Take our Director, Frank Walter. He went from this to 'The Rosary Murders" (what?) and in 1996 found himself scraping the bottom of the barrel with a TV drama "The Stepford Husbands". Hm, not promising is it? His film here is workmanlike, at best. He's competent, but not someone you'd want to seek out.

As a Slasher film, most everything that happens in the relatively short (85 minute) runtime is predictable. People are lured into rooms on their own, they wander off for no reason, and the police are nowhere to be found. This is horror as pantomime "He's behind you!", "What?", "Behind you!"

Having said that, if you can go along with the thing, not expecting much of anything but some light entertainment, you might in an unguarded moment actually start having a good time, as I did. The jokes aren't really funny, the murders aren't gruesome, and the girls never quite get their kit off. However, everyone is deft at going just far enough to ensure we're not bored. With a short running time things move along at quite a clip, too.

THE DVD

Earlier in this mini-review I mentioned that the movie has some standout camera work from Minsky. However, what good would that be without a stellar DVD? Well, good old (bad old) Paramount has presented us with a gem. April Fool's Day looks amazing. Seriously, it's almost reference quality folks. With the great shots in the movie, this really helped. Great work!

The sound is 5.1 surround, but don't go expecting miracles. There is some work for the surrounds, but not much, and nothing that is going to impress too much. Still, things are clear, crisp and clean. Asking for more is probably asking too much.

Other extras? Well.... not really. Paramount didn't even see fit to give us a trailer. This is a disc to test those that claim "I only care about the film, as long as the transfer is great, that?s all I need". Well, here that's all you get. I think it's a shame, and not because of a value proposition. I love DVD in part because I have been able to get more educated about the films I am watching. Since I know so little about the people involved in this film, it sure would have been nice to read something, or see something. Sadly, it was not to be.

CONTROVERSY

I'm not going to ruin the climax of this film during this little review. Suffice it to say, some seem really annoyed. I don't know, I kind of liked it. It's all rather predictable, but other than that, where's the beef? It sure beats endings that do nothing more than set up sequels.

Still, I want to tread carefully, just in case anybody reading this has yet to see it.

SUMMARY

There are (at least) two ways to look at this film. As a gory entry into the slasher genre, it's a bit of a failure. It holds back far too much, and to be honest, giving the end of the film, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It never really has tension, and save for one sequence right at the end, never generates fear.

On the other hand, it looks great, and its beauty seduces you a bit. It's all good harmless fun. Why do you need gore and blood when such a good time is being had?

Gore hounds avoid. Those with a taste for Oscar winning direction, acting, and writing, avoid. Those who like a fun little film and just want to kick back and relax for 85 minutes with a little incidental entertainment from the slasher genre, then you can have a good time. Me - I'm half way between the two. I liked it. I didn't hate it. I erm, well... it's cheap, what do you want?

hell ya!
06-30-2004, 01:50 AM
Good review. I really like this movie. I'm not that big on slashers all together but this one i really seem to enjoy. I also liked the twist at the end and thought it was just a fun flick.

dwatts
06-30-2004, 01:51 AM
Thanks Hell ya!. It's hard to avoid knowing the ending coming into this film (everyone seems to want to talk about it). However, surprisingly it didn't bother me a bit. You know, this one might have to be labelled under "guilty pleasure". I kind of felt as though I should have been hating it, but I didn't.

Mattster
06-30-2004, 02:05 AM
Funny I just bought this today! My coworker mocked me, but it's one of my favorites.

adric
06-30-2004, 03:32 AM
i just rented this over the weekend. i thought it was pretty good and i liked the ending even tho it was predictable. i loved the song at the end too *too bad your looney as hell....*

Tawny
06-30-2004, 03:43 AM
Great review! One thing though, the director isn't named Frank Walker. His name is Fred Walton, and he directed When A Stranger Calls, and its sequel. :)

Tuzotonic
06-30-2004, 04:59 AM
i just rented this over the weekend. i thought it was pretty good and i liked the ending even tho it was predictable. i loved the song at the end too *too bad your looney as hell....*


That song is a great surprise at the end of a good movie. It's worth sitting through the credits for. I would agree though, this movie is a guilty pleasure because there are plenty of people who like this movie and plenty who say it's pretentious and can't stand the ending.
Honestly, it's probably in my top 10-20 favorite horror movies.

Katatonia
06-30-2004, 08:46 AM
April Fool's Day ranks up there as one of my favorites from the 80's.

Who out there has ever seen that alternate ending that exists? Damn Paramount....oh well, at least it was in widescreen.

dwatts
06-30-2004, 09:32 AM
--One thing though, the director isn't named Frank Walker. His name is Fred Walton, and he directed When A Stranger Calls, and its sequel.--

Heh heh.. April..... oh forget it, I got it wrong :D

I found the Director rather invisible in this one. What I mean is, there's just nothing about the work here that sticks out. I did note that he made "When a Stranger Calls", however the only version I've seen of that (on DVD) is the R2 disc. That disc is so severely compromised quality wise, it is better I say nothing at the moment. Either way, I find his filmography rather poor and workmanlike.

Anyone else think this one must have struggled for 15 rating?

Tawny
06-30-2004, 02:53 PM
And another thing.....

-Of course, this film also has that dubious distinction of having no-one else in it that went on to do anything of note-

:eek: Clayton Rohner went on to make such "classics" as Modern Girls, I Madman, and The Relic! ;)

dwatts
06-30-2004, 03:22 PM
Sorry - I don't consider any of those classics. Or even very good :D

I really did try to find a hidden jewel in any of these peoples work, but in my opinion, I was unable to find any. Even the cinematographer, whom I really thought was great, seemed to have failed to make anything out of their talent. This is a odd little film that way :)

Tawny
06-30-2004, 03:33 PM
Sorry - I don't consider any of those classics. Or even very good :D

I really did try to find a hidden jewel in any of these peoples work, but in my opinion, I was unable to find any. Even the cinematographer, whom I really thought was great, seemed to have failed to make anything out of their talent. This is a odd little film that way :)

I know, its just that I will use any excuse to post a picture of Clayton, even if he is french kissing a decapitated stunt head. :evil: I love this movie. It's one of my favorites of all time. I will say that somebody who did create some fine work was the composer Charles Bernstein. You might recognize his music from some real goodies like Nightmare on Elm Street,Cujo and the Entity. However these did precede April Fool's Day, so apparantly the movie was a career killer for all those involved. :)

dwatts
06-30-2004, 04:06 PM
Don't forget a second still - the guy had more "luck" with a severed head than most teens have with a real one D

Tawny
06-30-2004, 07:38 PM
Don't forget a second still - the guy had more "luck" with a severed head than most teens have with a real one D

:banana:

dwatts
07-01-2004, 11:15 AM
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Nice one Tawny! I'm no sure how "lucky" the guy has gotten, maybe the head is just faking it ;)

RyanPC
07-01-2004, 11:42 PM
April Fool's Day is already, but I think it's pretty weak. I mean, I liked the gimmick and everything, but still. Oh well, it's better than My Bloody Valentine. :D

dwatts
07-01-2004, 11:52 PM
April Fool's Day is already,

Already what?


:lol:

RyanPC
07-02-2004, 12:05 AM
Already what?


:lol:

OOPS! I meant to say "alright" and typed the wrong word. If you hadn't pointed it out publicly I could have changed it, you bastard. :lol: ;)

dwatts
07-02-2004, 12:09 AM
You know, that's not the first time I've been called a bastard.

:D

RyanPC
07-02-2004, 12:10 AM
You know, that's not the first time I've been called a bastard.

:D

Yeah, the hooker who was at your house last night called you that too. Perhaps you were too kinky for her? ;)