Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fool's Day!

Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story! Just a crappy movie from the Eighties!

April Fool's Day (1986)
Directed by Fred Walton (the Walton boy nobody said Good Night to)
Written by Danilo Bach

We open on a dock somewhere in New England, as a group of twentysomething serial killer fodder goof around with a video camera as they wait for the ferry to Slasher Island. If this were ten years earlier, they'd all be bit players getting eaten by a shark in a much better movie. Alas, we're deep into spiral perms and popped polo shirt collars, so these are our stars, and they've elected to spend Spring Break running from cutlery in their underpants.

Meanwhile, on Slasher Island, Deborah Foreman from Valley Girl is struggling to shift a mannequin from one side of her basement to the other while telling her middle-aged housekeeper to take the weekend off, because -- no offense -- she's got cellulite and chin hairs and nobody wants to see her die in a camisole.

The crusty old ferryman docks his crusty old ferry, and our cast of aspiring corpses scamper aboard and spend the seemingly endless ride to the island establishing what passes for their characters. First up is Chaz, the videographer, who's played by that one guy who was the spiky-haired, Sunglasses at Night type in a variety of 80s teen flicks. He tells every male he sees that his fly is open, and tries to get the Bookworm Blonde to ditch her copy of Paradise Lost and read his raunchy stroke magazine because he's a smooth operator, and can't die fast enough. There's also Biff from Back to the Future, who's paired up with Tatum O'Neill's Younger Brother and playing a manly game involving a switchblade and yoga stretches. Then there's Bland Blonde, Sarcastic Blonde, Big & Stupid Blond Guy, Southern Fried Guy, Richard Marx Guy, and many, many more. It's like looking at a farmyard full of strutting, gobbling turkeys just before Thanksgiving.

Biff and Tatum O'Neill's Younger Brother (or as I like to call him, Tatum Tot) get in a squabble and Biff impulsively throws the switchblade, impaling TT, who topples into the water. Everyone dives in to save him, because they apparently forgot the title of the film they're in. It's actually just an elaborate prank, which sets up the film's theme of reality versus illusion, and makes us doubt everything we see. I'm beginning to wonder if this is a mid-80s slasher film, or if it's really a drawing room drama about the Bronte sisters, and at the end everybody will pull off their acid-washed denim and reveal sausage curls and Empire waists.

Everything's fine, except Big & Stupid Blond Guy insists on staying in the water until he gets crushed between the dock and the ferry, although in a weird way -- he's totally fine except one eye is dangling out of its socket and he won't stop screaming. Which just goes to prove that some April Fools are just April Morons.

Constable Potter is pissed, and immediately commandeers Valley Girl's boat to take Blond Guy and his Clacker-like eyeball to the mainland, leaving her and her friends stranded on Slasher Isle. However, the house where they'll all be staying until they're dead is lovely. VG says, "On a clear day you can see the Kennedy's," which I assume was a sequel to the Barbra Streisand musical and probably failed because it was just two hours of pasty white Irish people passed out on stage, which would seem to limit the opportunities for high-stepping dance numbers.

Cut to suggestive close-ups of wieners and beans, as Sarcastic Blonde reads aloud a Cosmo quiz about orgasms (it's multiple choice, so you don't have to have one if you don't want to).  They all gather in the formal dining room to eat beans, sip Cold Duck, and humiliate each other with Whoopee Cushions. All except Tatum Tot, who feels guilty about turning Blond Guy's eye into a testicle (we can tell he's tortured, because every time the camera cuts to TOB he's drinking and performing a selection from Fifty Great Monologues for Young Actors).

Now let's settle in as our cast of wannabe worm food is pranked one by one. Sarcastic Blonde finds a dog collar and leash in her dresser. Repressed Blonde finds a tape recording of a crying baby in her armoire. Biff finds a complete set of intravenous drug user paraphernalia in his medicine cabinet. It's like TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes (specifically the classic episode where they tricked William S. Burroughs into cooking his heroin in a dribble spoon). Meanwhile, Tatum Tot wanders into the dark boat house and gets scared by the creaky floors. Then a stage hand throws a cat at his face, which happens so often when one walks into a dark scary room that our cat has asked that we just keep the lights on, because he's tired of spending so much time as a projectile.

The next day, the cast has a pick-up soccer match that's even duller than the touch football game in On a Clear Day You Can See the Kennedys, and those people were all unconscious.  Valley Girl has a second personality that apparently emerged during the night, because she's gone from a fun-loving, prank-pulling co-ed to a lugubrious creep who talks like Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca and dresses like a sister wife. Meanwhile, Bland Blonde and Richard Marx go have sex in the boat house, but her mind wanders and she peers through the floorboards just as Tatum O'Neill's Dead Brother floats by on a door. Naturally, they all run into the woods to search for him, even though he was last seen on the water, because nobody said they were smart.

Well, we're almost an hour into the film, and so far the only action we've gotten is an eyeball that swings like a pendulum do, and a cadaver on a raft. But things perk up mildly when Biff steps in a snare and dangles upside down while a rattlesnake repeatedly head-fakes him. Then Sarcastic Blonde falls down the well and finds TODB's and Biff's disembodied heads bobbing in the water, because as we all learned in school, the most buoyant part of the human body is the skull. Then, while Sarcastic Blonde is flailing around in clear violation of the No Horseplay rule, Repressed Blonde's body floats to the surface. This is particularly sad because it's only now, in death, that she's ditched the matronly sweater sets in favor of a form-fitting tank top that's really quite flattering.

Bland Blonde goes snooping around the mansion and freaks out when she discovers a photo of two little girls. Just so we get the point, Valley Girl sneaks up and creeps all over her. Meanwhile, Southern Fried Guy pulls a revolver out of his luggage and prepares to exercise his Second Amendment right to be the sole survivor. Since he's struck out with every girl in the cast, he's probably a virgin and therefore qualifies.

Sarcastic Blonde decides to pack up and leave. She'll die, of course, but so far everybody has been killed off camera, and she's heard that -- like drowning -- it's one of the most peaceful ways to go. Chaz tries to talk her of it by putting on a leather bondage mask, but she leaves the room for just a moment and wouldn't you know it, he suffocates and has his penis stolen.

Richard Marx and Bland Blonde find a weird diorama in the attic, and realize Valley Girl has been playing Ten Little Indians, except with Barbie dolls (as you'd expect, Midge was the first to die).

Richard and BB scream at a cutaway of some blood which implies that somebody is dead, then they find that Southern Fried Guy has been lynched, in a twist that eerily reminiscent of The Twilight Zone, or Far Out Space Nuts ("I said lunch, not lynch!")  They run down to the boat, but the Constable, and the keys, are missing. Fortunately, the screenwriter has left behind a note explaining that Valley Girl is actually her evil twin sister who's been in an institution for the past three years, and if anyone wants him he'll be at the bar in Boardner's, pounding down Fuzzy Navels.

Richard accidentally locks himself in a closet just as Valley Girl goes after Bland Blonde with a machete, and is reduced to screaming "I love you! RUN! I love you!" BB narrowly avoids getting her head chopped off and stumbles into the living room, where the entire cast, alive and with their heads re-attached, are chattin' and chillin'. Meanwhile, Big & Stupid guy, his eye still dangling, somehow teleports into the closet behind Richard and kisses him full on the mouth.

Back in the living room, everyone yells, "April Fool!" Apparently, Valley Girl was test marketing her idea for a chain of Who Dunnit? dinner theaters, nobody's actually dead, and it's time to party! The cast showers each other with champagne while Three Dog Night's "Mama Told Me Not To Come" blasts on the soundtrack, and Chaz celebrates getting his penis back by simulating oral sex with one of the decapitated heads.

Well! Okay, then. Shall we join the screenwriter at the bar? It's been 29 years, but I have a feeling he's still there.


Carl said...


Meanie-meanie, tickle a person said...

they've elected to spend Spring Break running from cutlery in their underpants.

"How the cutlery got into my underpants I'll never know"...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...


Debbi said...

Best laugh of the day! Thank you! :)