April Fool's Day is an American mystery horror film released in 1986 by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Fred Walton, from the screenplay by Danilo Bach. The original music score was composed by Charles Bernstein. It was filmed in British Columbia, Canada and has a largely Canadian cast. A group of college friends: Harvey, Nikki, Rob, Skip, Nan, Kit and Arch, gather to celebrate Spring Break by spending the weekend at the island mansion of their friend, Muffy St. John, on the weekend leading up to April Fools' Day. The tone is set almost immediately with Muffy preparing details around the house, and finds an old jack-in-the-box she remembers (in flashback). Her friends, meanwhile, are joking around on the pier, then on the ferry to the island. But en route to the island, Buck, a local deckhand is seriously injured in a gruesome accident. Once on the island and in the mansion, it turns out Muffy has set up a ton of little jokes from the simple (whoopee cushions, dribble glasses, etc.) to the more complex and disturbing (an audiotape of a baby crying in someone's room, heroin paraphernalia in a guest's wardrobe, etc.) Through it all, the friends in general try to relax.
You might recognize Deborah Foreman’s Muffy as the ‘six inch spike’ girl from Real Genius, and you might remember Thomas F. Wilson’s Arch as Biff from the Back to the Future series. And you might recognize April Fool’s Day‘s hair and clothing styles as something you wore yourself 15 years ago. Talk about horror!
The archetypal family manor on an inaccessible island plays the setting for a group of college kids, invited by the mysterious Muffy to spend the weekend. But the April Fool’s pranks begin before the kids ever make it to the island as one guy fakes being stabbed. Pretty soon chairs are collapsing, faucets are squirting, glasses are dribbling… and the body count is rising.
As corny as April Fool’s Day is, it’s also a guilty pleasure among horror films. Schlock full of twists, turns, and red herrings, this whodunit is an early influencer to Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and a whole host of imitators. The production values are middling and the acting is ham-fisted (at best), but it’s a classic ride into one of the best examples of horror cheese going.
Or is it…?