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Film / April Fools' Day

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That's not a proper Slipknot Ponytail, young lady!

April Fool's Day is a 1986 Slasher Movie directed by Fred Walton, who also directed When a Stranger Calls seven years prior.

Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman) is rich and she is about to inherit an old house on an island, where she decides to throw a party for her pals from college on April Fool's Day. But weird things begin to happen, as someone has planned a very different series of April Fool's pranks for the guests...

Got a loose Direct to Video remake in 2008 starring Taylor Cole and Josh Henderson.

Examples contained within this book. Gotcha!

  • All Women Are Lustful: Judging by the kitchen conversation, Muffy, Kit and Nikki love lots and lots of sex. Even Nan, the supposedly repressed good girl, got pregnant.
  • April Fools' Plot: The entire killing spree was just an elaborate joke planned by Muffy.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Nan is a quiet, bookish young woman who would rather read or talk about theatre than party with the rest of the group and runs away crying when she thinks Muffy set up a prank as a cruel reminder of her abortion. After The Reveal that Muffy planned the whole murder setup, she waits until Muffy is alone to viciously slit her throat with a knife! Except it's a gag knife, and Nan gets the last laugh. "April Fool", indeed.
  • Bookends: The jack-in-the-box appears in the opening credits and shows up again in the last scene.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Arch apparently while trapped in the woods.
    "You browned your trail?"
  • Camera Fiend: Chaz films everyone with his video camera, and he's also shown as a pervert.
  • Cat Scare: Skip is scared by a cat before he is attacked.
  • Caught in a Snare: Arch when he is in the forest.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: Inverted. The first time the jack-in-the-box is seen it scares Muffy with a lizard head and the second time it's just a clown.
  • Closed Circle: The island. Part of the tension comes from there being no ferry to the mainland over the weekend.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: The whole thing turns out to be a prank on Muffy's part - testing out a 'murder mystery weekend' business plan, while making the house a B&B. That said, considering the other character thought their friends had been killed and legitimately feared for their lives, it comes across and extremely cruel and practically sociopathic, yet oddly the rest of the group isn't furious when they find out it was a prank and seem to forgive Muffy right away even though she doesn't even apologize.
  • Country Mouse: Hal has a Southern accent and even describes himself as a "hick".
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*
    Kit: And don't anyone say 'April Fools' again or I'll rip them apart!
    Skip & Arch: *Cough*april fools*cough*
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: Early in the movie Buck the deckhand gets horribly mutilated by a boat propeller. It turns out to just be part of the prank
  • Dead Star Walking: Apart from Amy Steel, Thomas F. Wilson is likely the other most recognizable name in the cast due to his role as Biff in the Back to the Future movies. His character is seemingly one of the early victims, but he does show up again alive at the end when the whole scenario is revealed as a prank.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": It's not Harvey, it's Hal.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Nan's little joke at the end, where she pretends to slice Muffy's throat open.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Nobody even dies and everyone lived happily ever after.
  • Ethical Slut: Nikki sleeps freely with Arch and Chaz, and flirts with Hal. Yet she's not demonized for it and is shown as simply fun-loving.
  • Evil Twin: Muffy's "twin sister" Buffy who is really just Muffy. Skip IS her twin though, and is evil in the original book.
  • Everybody Lives: One of the few horror movies to ever use this trope!
  • Explosive Cigar: Harvey smokes one amongst the many gags directed at the guests.
  • Final Girl: Nan seems most likely to be this, then gets killed third. Kit then seems to be the Final Girl but of course, it's subverted when everyone lives. This trope is played with even more heavily by the fact that she's played by Amy Steel, the actual final girl of the second Friday the 13th film.
  • Freudian Excuse: The jack-in-the-box moment that scared Muffy in the flashback could explain her fascination with pranks.
  • Friendly Scheming: The whole plot turns out to be Muffy doing a "slasher" prank.
  • The Generic Girl: Kit doesn't have any outstanding traits like the rest of the cast aside from being the Final Girl and even that she doesn't follow perfectly, being less chaste than Nan but in a steady relationship unlike Nikki. The Reveal that there were no murders means she doesn't even have being the Final Girl going for her.
  • The Generic Guy: Kit's boyfriend Rob has a small subplot about not getting into medical school and being the de-facto leader when bodies start to pile up, but otherwise doesn't stand out much.
  • Genre Shift: From a Slasher Movie to a not Slasher Movie at the end.
  • Good All Along: The whole Slasher Movie scenario was a total fake-out prank and the Big Bad was never a Big Bad nor Ax-Crazy to begin with.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted when it turns out that the supposed Shrinking Violet Nan was pregnant and had an abortion. This comes after someone left a tape of a baby crying in her room. It's implied she got pregnant after a one night stand who dumped her, which serves to make her sympathetic. Muffy set it up simply as a Red Herring, not knowing about the abortion. It's one of the few things she actively apologizes for when she lays out her scheme at the end.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The plot takes place on an April Fool's weekend.
  • Informed Flaw: Rob mentions his college advisor telling him he's not serious enough to apply to medical school, yet compared to most of the cast he's downright stoic.
  • Karma Houdini: Muffy just gets away with her horrifically cruel prank, and everyone just laughs it off, even though they thought they were going to die for real, and thought their friends had been murdered just a few minutes before.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: While the various couples are getting it on, Arch sits down with one of Chaz's porno mags to relieve his frustration; before falling victim to a booby-trapped chair.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: At one point, Nikki leans out of her window wearing nothing but panties and a shirt that is completely unbuttoned.
  • Off with His Head!: Skip, Arch, and Muffy. Subverted, when it turns out they are just props.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Much of the scares are made of findings of corpses and severed heads.
  • People Fall Off Chairs: During the initial rash of pranks, Arch is caught twice by a booby-trapped chair that collapses under him when he leans back.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: Kit and Rob find one in their room, but there is only a cat clock with moving eyes behind it. It later reappears in a much less amusing fashion.
  • Preppy Name: The rich girl's name is Muffy St. John.
  • Really Gets Around: Nikki. Sleeps with Chaz but is clearly up for sex with Arch later in the weekend, not to mention flirting openly with Hal.
  • Red Herring: Buck ("They did it!") and Muffy's strange behavior after the first night.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The snake underneath the booby trap that snares Arch in the woods.
  • The Reveal: The whole situation is an April Fool's prank. Turns out that for once, the title is not just one of those "slasher wanted to get creative" kind of titles.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • The first scene has Muffy propping open the cellar window. Rob and Kit crawling in and discovering the clues are crucial to Muffy's planned climax.
    • Nan says she and Muffy were in drama society together. Foreshadowing that Muffy is a gifted actress.
    • If you look closely, you can see that Muffy's nails are painted red for the whole film. A hint that there is no Buffy persona or Muffy Failed a Spot Check.
    • Muffy claims the water main is broken. However, later in the movie, Nikki gets sprayed with water from the joke tap. Further indicator that everything is fine.
    • You'll notice that in the death scenes things cut away before anything is actually shown.
    • You can also see Muffy grinning playfully when she slashes open the sliding doors, suggesting she was in the fun of the moment.
  • Scary Jack-in-the-Box: Muffy was given one when she was a child, as shown in the opening credits.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Downplayed, the movie has its humorous moments even after things start to get serious, but the comedy takes on a darker tone when Skip and Arch go missing.
  • Shout-Out: A newspaper clipping with the title “6 Die in Fog” appears early in the film, a likely reference to the 1980 John Carpenter film The Fog (1980).
  • Slasher Movie: Subverted, it never was one from the start, as Everybody Lives and were actually Faking the Dead.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Interesting case since all the female victims are blonde, including the Final Girl, while Muffy is brunette. Of course then subverted when nobody gets killed at all.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Harvey is exercising on the deck when he sees Nikki leaning out of her window wearing nothing but panties and a shirt that is gaping open. He lets go of one end of his bullworker, which springs upright.
  • Spanner in the Works: A minor example. When Arch gets caught in a booby trap, the snake wasn't supposed to be there. Fortunately, this has very little effect on Muffy's prank.
  • The Stoner: Skip, out of guilt over what happened on the ferry on the way to the island, goes to pick some weed he had planted. This is where he becomes the first to go missing.
  • Tarnishing Their Own Beauty: Muffy goes from perfectly permed hair and expensive posh clothing with well-done makeup to barely combed, plain-clothed and bare-faced after the first night on the island, which is lampshaded ("She's wearing crepe sole nurses shoes!") along with her strange behavior. Subverted when it turns out she has been replaced by her murderously unstable twin Buffy, but then double subverted when it turns out there is no murderous twin and it was all set up by Muffy.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: Muffy invites eight friends to her isolated island mansion and one by one they start disappearing.
  • Twist Ending: The Reveal that it was all just a prank and Everybody Lives.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: Muffy is a preppy girl with St John as a last name, attends a liberal arts college in New York and other Freeze Frame Bonuses place her Big Fancy House in Maine.
  • Wink "Ding!": Not actually a "ding", the sound heard when the jack in the box winks at the ending is a part of the film's music theme.
  • Wolves Always Howl at the Moon: Subverted. It was Skip, drunk as hell.