Long before "Scream" was dubbed the world’s most creative ‘self-reflective’ modern horror movie, there were a few earnest attempts throughout the 1980s.Student Bodies offered an outright spoof well before the Scary Movie guys were on the scene, and several other slasher flicks were tongue-in-cheek as well as ax-in-head. April Fool’s Day is a well-crafted and generally entertaining example, one that delivers its slasher conventions with a decidedly cockeyed perspective and a few characters who seem a little more aware of the bloodshed going on around them.
Producer Frank Mancuso is the man behind this one, as well as other genre favorites like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Species, and Body Parts, so you can at least be sure you’re dealing with a filmmaker who knows his horror. Director Fred Walton (When a Stranger Calls) and screenwriter Danilo Bach (Beverly Hills Cop) obviously boned up on their recent slasher history, and they populate this project with the requisite cliches and stock stereotypes... though there seems to be something a little off in this one.
One noteworthy aspect is that April Fool’s Day manages to be a straight-edged slasher flick and a Ten Little Indians-style whodunit at the same time. Since the action takes place on and around the First of April, you can logically expect a lot of silly pranks and clever tricks, but these factors just make things a little more involving once the dead bodies start popping up. There are a few slow spots (particularly early on), but nothing dull enough to warrant a visit to the FF button. The simple-to-follow plot involves a crew of longtime college pals who are invited to enjoy an isolated weekend at Muffy’s palatial island mansion. Predictably, bodies begin to pile up almost immediately.
Aside from the colorfully predictable proceedings, April Fool’s Day also features a veritable who’s-who of semi-obscure 80’s actors, each of whom combine to create perhaps the most talented B-actor ensemble ever brought together for a low-budget slasher flick. Amy Steel (Friday the 13th Part 2) gets the “hero girl” part (once again), while the ever-lovely Deborah Foreman (Real Genius) delivers a surprisingly effective portrayal as rich-gal hostess Muffy... a young lady with more than a few skeletons in the attic. Clayton Rohner (Just One of the Guys) is rather amusing as the horny and obnoxious ‘party-boy’, while Back to the Future bully Thomas C. Wilson offers a few funny bits as Arch, the wiseguy practical joker. A few less familiar faces fill out the rest (Ryan’s son Griffin O’Neal has a small role) to a relatively successful degree.
Heck, if you already own titles like Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, and Halloween, you owe it to yourself to complete the Holidays of Horror collection. April Fool’s Day may not have enough blood or bare knockers to qualify as a true Slasher Classic, but the old-school horror fans hold a special place in their heart for the engaging little flick.There are much better 80’s horror flicks to spend your money on, but this one has enough jolts and twists to warrant a look.