• April Fool’s Day (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: March 24th, 2019.
    Director: Fred Walton
    Cast: Deborah Foreman, Griffin O'Neal, Clayton Rohner, Jay Baker, Pat Barlow, Lloyd Berry, Amy Smart, Thomas F. Wilson
    Year: 1986
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    April Fool’s Day – Movie Review:

    Muffy (Deborah Foreman) invites a bunch of her college-aged friends - Harvey (Jay Baker), Clara (Pat Barlow), Nikki (Deborah Goodrich), Buck (Mike Nomad), Rob (Ken Olandt), Skip (Griffin O'Neal). Chaz (Clayton Rohner), Kit (Amy Steel) and Arch (Thomas F. Wilson) - to visit her parent’s fancy island home way out in the middle of nowhere. They take a trip by boat to the island and get up to the typical shenanigans you’d expect from a mid-eighties horror picture – there is a lot of pranking.

    At any rate, eventually things soon go wrong when on of Muffy’s guests suffers a facial injury and is rushed off to the hospital by the boatman. The rest? They’re not stuck on that island without any way to get off. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if everyone were on the up and up, but such is not the case and it isn’t long before things get weird. The pranks that before seemed harmless now start to get personal, tying into the pasts of the respective characters who are subject to them. And then someone starts picking off Muffy’s guests one at a time…

    If Agatha Christie had penned a slasher picture, this would have been it (in fact there are references to Ten Little Indians in the film if you look for them), but that isn’t a bad thing. April Fool’s Day does more than just present a group of ‘teens’ (very few of the actors and actresses really pass for teens, but I digress) to the antics of an unseen or unknown killer, it builds like more of a traditional whodunnit and it does so with a pretty decent sense of humor as well (at times, the filmmakers are very definitely playing with slasher film parody elements). Thankfully, this doesn’t come at the expense of the suspense you’d want from a top-quality slasher film, as well get planet of that, as well as eight of the expected murders (though gorehounds take note, most of them do occur off-camera).

    As to the performances, they’re effective enough. Deborah Foreman is pretty decent as the ‘host’ of the events that transpire and the rest of the cast do fine. It’s amusing to see Thomas F. Wilson (who, to a certain segment of us who grew up in the eighties, will always be Biff Tannen from the Back To The Future movies) show up here and Amy Steel of Friday The 13th Part 2 as well.

    Production values are quite good. The island setting and its ornate home are a great spot to stage a slasher picture like this, and on top of that we get some legitimately strong cinematography and a unique but wholly effective score, all of which helps add to the fun.

    April Fool’s Day – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory brings April Fool’s Day to collector’s edition Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in the film’s proper aspect ratio of 2.35.1 widescreen (save for the opening ‘home movie’ footage that is windowboxed – clearly on purpose to create the intended ‘home movie’ effect). If this is taken from an existing scan (no technical information is provided on the packaging as to what was used here), it nevertheless looks quite good. Detail rises substantially over the older DVD release, as it should, and we get a nice uptick in depth and texture here as well. Some of the scenes that feature smoke in the foreground understandably look a little softer than others and there are definitely scenes where things are meant to look intentionally hazy, but overall, this retains a pleasing, filmic appearance. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement nor is there any noticeable noise reduction.

    English language 24-bit DTS-HD tracks are provided in 5.1 and 2.0 Mono options, with optional subtitles offered up in English only. There are moments on the mono track where the dialogue levels spike a bit, but otherwise it’s fine. This doesn’t happen, oddly enough, on the 5.1 mix which, while not the original mix for the film, does a decent enough job of separating effects and score placement into the surround channels. Although there are spots in the 5.1 mix that also seem a bit off balance, where certain effects seem unusually loud. Minor quibbles, admittedly, but quibbles never the less. Both tracks are clean, clear and free of any noticeable hiss or distortion.

    Previous editions of April Fool’s Day been pretty lousy as far as extra features go, but Shout! Factory corrects that with this release starting with the first of a few brand-new featurettes, Horror With A Twist, which is a two-part interview director Fred Walton that runs a combined forty-seven-minutes in length. In the first twenty-four-minute part he talks about movies he got into growing up, his education and working on short films with Steve Feke before then turning their 1977 project The Sitter into 1979's feature When A Stranger Calls, which solidified his career in Tinseltown. The second part covers the making of Hadley's Rebellion, doing some TV work on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and then, of course, getting to the making of April's Fool's Day and how he got along with his cast, producer and crew as well as what it was like on set and how he feels about the film's enduring popularity.

    Up next, actress Deborah Goodrich Royce sets in front of the camera with Well Of Lies where she speaks for seventeen-minutes about how she got her start in performing arts in the dance and live theater arenas before then moving in front of the camera for commercials and then eventually film. She covers her experiences on April Fool's Day including how she got the part, some of the key scenes she was personally involved with and a potential sequel.

    Looking Forward To Dessert is an interview with actor Clayton Rohner that runs just over seventeen-minutes. He talks about his family and upbringing, including his connection to Agnes Moorehead of all people, before then going on to talk about his early career, getting the part in April Fool's Day, what it was like on set and his thoughts on the experience, and the film, overall.

    Composer Charles Bernstein is up next in Bloody Unforgettable where he spends twenty-six-minutes talking about his background and early work before then talking about how he came onboard to score this picture as well as what he tried to bring to the film and then other horror pictures, working with Wes Craven and more.

    The last of the featurettes is The Eye Of Deception which interviews cinematographer Charles Minsky for seventeen-minutes in a segment that covers his background and training, his technique, and then his work specifically on April Fool's Day including how and why certain cameras were used, working with director Walton and more.

    Rounding out the extra on the disc, we get the film’s original theatrical trailer, a few TV spots, menus and chapter selection. As to the packaging, we get some reversible cover art as well as a slipcover (for the first pressing only).

    April Fool’s Day – The Final Word:

    April Fool’s Day is a creative and inventive slasher that still manages to deliver for fans of the genre. It’s also a fairly stylish film that makes good use of a solid cast. Shout! Factory has done a really nice job bringing it to Blu-ray, with a pretty nice presentation and some quality extra features as well. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized April Fool’s Day Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      Eventually I will get this.