April Fool’s Day (1986): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

I love “April Fool’s Day,” and I say that as someone that originally hated it. It took years for me to come around on it, mainly because in a decade where we got nothing but slasher movies, we were given one. But we also weren’t given one, either. In either case, if you’re going in to “April Fool’s Day,” it embraces its inherent silliness and mounts tension to be a pretty good statement about the slasher sub-genre while also having a good old time with the audience. It’s become a favorite of the sub-genre, and indicates a point where studios were beginning to satirize the tropes of the sub-genre.

Wealthy Muffy St. John (the gorgeous Deborah Foreman) invites her college friends up to her parents’ secluded island home for the time of their lives on their favorite holiday. As soon as the kids arrive on the island, events spiral out of control and soon enough guests are slowly lured in to traps by an unseen assailant. What starts out as a weekend of harmless “April Fool’s Day” pranks turns into a bloody battle for survival, while guest Nan tries to figure out the identity of the culprit or culprits. 

“April Fool’s Day” is a tough movie to pigeon hole as it functions as a slasher movie, and can also be appreciated as a murder mystery, dark comedy, and occasional satire. Fred Walton’s genre entry is a movie fans have been wanting on a good format and treatment for years, and it’s finally given a great restoration allowing for a new generation to discover it. Walton’s horror film almost seems to get off on messing with the audience, and it is fun trying to decide if we should trust our eyes. There’s just so much here that feels like call backs to classic horror with a ton of red herrings, mysterious characters, twists and turns, and an island that houses a dark secret or two.

Thankfully the shift in tones does work in favor of the movie, preventing it from feeling too monotonous and enhancing the overall experience. If you don’t love what Fred Walton and Paramount have to offer horror buffs, you’ll at least be able to agree you left it with an amused smile.

Shout Factory brings their A game for fans, including, “Horror with A Twist – “I’m doing it for you people. It’s not for me,” an interview with director Fred Walton. The two parter explores his discovery of loving movies at an early age, his entrance in to loving horror, how it followed him in to college with “When a Stranger Calls” and his run on “April Fool’s Day.” Here we talk about his work with the crew, working with various actors, his disappointment at how the film was marketed as a slasher (he disagrees) and how it disappointed fans expecting a new Jason. It’s a fun hour with a great director. “Well of Lies” is a sixteen minutes interview with actress Deborah Goodrich Royce, who began her life as a dancer, broke in to commercials, her work on the film, how she found out later that it’d become a cult classic, and her pitch for a sequel that never happened.

It’s a fun segment. “Looking Forward to Dessert” is a seventeen minutes interview with actor Clayton Rohner, who discusses working on the film, breaking in to acting, and the various alternate endings for the film. “Bloody Unforgettable” is a twenty six minutes interview with composer Charles Bernstein who discusses his music, and his inspirations, his work with Wes Craven on “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and working on the movie. “The Eye of Deception” is a seventeen minutes interview with cinematographer Charles Minsky who discusses how he fell in to cinematography, and working in the industry, as well as working alongside Walton for the film. Finally, there is the original theatrical trailer, and three original TV spots.

For more on “April Fool’s Day,” read our more extensive take on it in “You Have to See This!