Jessie’s Saturday Night Fright Flick: 1986’s APRIL FOOL’S DAY

Movie junkie Jessie Robbins picks a fright flick for a Saturday night.


When I was in grade nine I had a girl’s movie night/Halloween party. Now, I think you may have gotten to know me a little in the past few weeks here at Shock, I obviously love a good scare. What you may NOT know about me, is I am an awful, awful friend. I invited about five girls over and our objective was to eat a bunch of snacks, watch some horror movies, and stay up late talking about boys, maybe have a pillow fight, but as the girls started to arrive, I decided to pull a little prank. I armed myself with the TV remote, an alarm clock, and a quickly thought up story.

We began our night watching TV in the living room, and with the remote up my sleeve, I would calmly hit the channel button repeatedly to make it seem as though the TV was changing channels on it’s own. This I sort of brushed off, I got up from my chair, “looked around” for the remote, and when I couldn’t “find” it, I used the buttons on the receiver (our receiver had buttons back then) to put the channel back to what we were watching.

Suddenly, the clock in my bedroom started blaring music seemingly out of nowhere. A look of unease crossed over my friends’ faces. I slowly got up from my chair, walked to my bedroom and shut the radio off, making sure to bump the alarm up about five more minutes.

One of my friends asked, “Does this sort of thing happen often?”

“Well,” I relished, “I wasn’t going to say anything, I was kind of hoping that it just wouldn’t happen this year.

“That WHAT wouldn’t happen?” My friend asked.

“Oh it’s really nothing…” I said passively, but with mounting concern added to the inflection of my voice, “Every year on Halloween night, things get a little… weird.” At the word, I hit the power button on the remote and shut the TV off. As my friends turned in shock to the TV, the alarm went off in my bedroom again. One of my friends, a very sweet girl, was a little too freaked out, and as my mom was leaving the house to get more snacks, she said quietly, “Alright, Jessie.” FOILED!

Like I said, awful friend. So as if – as if – I would let April 1st go by without making 1986’s APRIL FOOL’S DAY this week’s Fright Flick. Now, while April Fool’s Day stopped being an event for me when I started living on my own (apologies to my dearest Hailey who put up with my hiding and popping out, countless horror flicks and Ouija experiments for far too long), a well-executed prank can be very satisfying. APRIL FOOL’S DAY stars Amy Steel (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2), Thomas Wilson (BACK TO THE FUTURE), Ken Olandt (LEPRECHAUN) and others as college students who traveled to their friend Muffy’s island house for a weekend of drunken, sexy fun. It always starts with drunken, sexy fun, doesn’t it? After an initial accident on the boat ride.

to the island, and the ominous message from the ferryman that no one would be back to the island until the morning, things take a dark turn, and the students are left to wonder if what is happening to them is real or just a joke.

There is a lot to love about this little film. The score, possibly appealing to my childhood obsession with playing Legend of Zelda on Gameboy is probably my favourite thing that came out of the 80’s. The synth is strong with this one. I don’t know why but I am reminded a little of Muppet Babies.

Deborah (WAXWORK) Foreman’s portrayal of Muffy (striking resemblance to Sheryl Lee) is great, her slow descent from sweet and hospitable to creepy and cabin fevered is truly unsettling. The rest of the performances, for what this film is, are all quite good, Thomas Wilson is the perfect jock/pretty boy, Clayton Rohner plays quirky and perverted to a T (and it took me forever to figure out that he was Daryl Mootz in the “Rain King” episode of The X-Files), and obviously Amy Steel knocks the Scream Queen thing right out of the park. She may also be one of my favourite things to come out of the 80’s.

For the gorehounds in the bunch, the effects, while plentiful, leave something to be desired. However rest assured, if you are a fan of light-hearted, relatively frightening horror, I really do suggest (demand, whatever) you watch this film. And of course, privileged college students getting their comeuppance has always been a favourite in the horror genre, and in this film you get it in spades.

A good setting can really make or break a film for me. Something like THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012, or really, the 1989 TV movie version which is amazing and you should watch that too, dammit) has a gorgeous setting, little British coastal town, beautiful buildings, long foggy causeway. Likewise in APRIL FOOLS DAY, after a boat ride to their destination, the students are left alone in a giant house on the water surrounded by mountains… Maybe I’m just obsessed with films in coastal setting

Anyway, April 1st may have come and gone but it doesn’t mean you can’t get a little fun out of pranking your friends on any other given day! Hide a remote up your sleeve, cling-wrap the toilet seat, kill the innocent, but most of all enjoy this 80s gem.

Have a wonderful weekend darlings.