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Case Number 02210: Small Claims Court

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April Fool's Day

Paramount // 1986 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 19th, 2002

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our review of April Fool's Day (2008), published March 25th, 2008, is also available.

The Charge

Nothing like a little levity to really slay a crowd…

The Case

April Fool's Day is known as a holiday of pranks and fun, but for Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman, Valley Girl) and her friends, it may be the last holiday they ever celebrate! The well-off Muffy has decided to invite a few close friends to her family's secluded island home for a weekend of partying and good times. As the weekend progresses, her special guests begin to discover Muffy's playful sense of humor as whoopee cushions, fall apart chairs, and dribble glasses show up at every turn. It's all a load of laughs until things turn ugly…and deadly. One by one the guests begin disappearing, then showing up in the most unlikely of places…with missing appendages! Suddenly the remaining survivors discover that Muffy's sense of the absurd has taken a deadly turn for the worst, and if they're not careful they could be next! April Fool's Day proves that it's always funny until someone get hurt…and maimed…and butchered…

For starters, I liked April Fool's Day because the film makes no bones about what it is. The back of the case is very frank about the film's content—it reads "It's just what you'd expect from the producer who brought you Body Parts, Species, and Friday The 13th Parts III-V." Never in my short history of reviewing films have I read a statement quite so apt. Actually, April Fool's Day is even better than I expected—it's fun, goofy, and perpetually entertaining. While not particularly scary or gory, the movie benefits from a better-than-average cast of offbeat, likable teen characters. The biggest name is Thomas F. Wilson, better known as the thuggish "Biff" from the Back to the Future series (the only movie I really associate him with). Wilson shows that he's a funny guy with a fine sense of comedic timing (not that we didn't already know that). Amy Steel (a holdover from Friday The 13th Part 2) plays the cutesy heroine well, all the while being complimented by Deborah Foreman's weirdly funny performance as hostess Muffy St. John. The rest of the cast (including Jay Baker as a sarcastic ladies' man) all do a fine job with a screenplay that works better than it should. Predating Wes Craven's Scream, April Fool's Day is filled with just as many laughs as scares (actually, more). Running at a scant 88 minutes, April Fool's Day is movie that never overstays its welcome—by the time you're ready for it to be over, it is. Surprisingly, April Fool's Day is an '80s horror movie that eluded me for many years. After seeing the video box (remember VHS?) from childhood on, I am glad I finally had the opportunity to watch what may be considered a lost cinematic gem. Okay, so maybe the phrase "cinematic gem" doesn't really apply—but when placed next to numerous other '80s movies, April Fool's Day easily comes out on top. Even if you're not a horror fan, the movie sports some great bits and enough laughs to make it worth your time. And while you're at it, place some fake doggie vomit on top of your girlfriend's popcorn bowl and watch the fun begin!

April Fool's Day is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I'm glad I had the opportunity to watch this film for the first time in the glorious aspect ratio that is widescreen! The film looks very nice with hardly any imperfections marring the image. While there are a few instances where the black levels weren't as crisp as desired, overall I was pleased with how nice this transfer ended up looking. With solid crisp colors and natural flesh tones, April Fool's Day is in very fine shape…and that's no joke! The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. This newly created 5.1 mix is decent, though because of the film's age don't expect a lot of activity when it comes to directional effects. While there were a few instances where surround sounds popped up, overall this is a subtle mix that is generally clear of any excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English subtitles as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtrack in English and a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack in French. As for supplemental materials, Paramount apparently thought it would be hysterical to include under "special features" (which are, by the way, not rated) the following extras: Dolby Digital Sound, Widescreen Version, and Subtitles. As you can see, the disc is jam packed with supplements…or, as Paramount might very well squeal, April Fool's!

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 86

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
• English
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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