You'd be Foolish to miss out!
April Fools’ Day has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, though its exact origins remain a mystery. It is an annual custom on April 1st, consisting of practical jokes and hoaxes. Jokesters often expose their actions by shouting "April Fools!" at the recipient. Mass media can be involved in these pranks, which may be revealed as such the following day. The custom of setting aside a day for playing harmless pranks upon one's neighbour has been relatively common in the world historically.
While its exact history is shrouded in mystery, the embrace of April Fools’ Day jokes by the media and major brands has ensured the unofficial holiday’s long life.
It is also a day for Horror. And like most historically celebrated events to which there is always a horror movie to enjoy, April Fools Day has 3 (worth mentioning); And in descending order of preference here is my annual April Fools Day marathon:
In 3rd place is 1986's Slaughter High, written and directed by George Dugdale, Mark Ezra and Peter Litten and produced by Dick Randall (Pieces, Don't Open Till Christmas). An international co-production between the United States and the United Kingdom, the film was shot entirely in London with a mostly British cast adopting American accents - to varying degrees of success!
'Eight people are invited to their old high school for their ten-year reunion where a fellow former student, disfigured from a prank gone wrong, is out to seek revenge.'
With similarities to 1980's New Year's Eve slasher, Terror Train, both films open with high school outcasts getting irreparably harmed by the 'cool kids' as part of a heinous prank. Years later the good looking cast of bullies begin to get picked off one by one, by a masked assailant.
Classed as an 'underrated' slasher movie of the 80's (depending on your knowledge of Slashers), Slaughter High treads the typical slasher tropes from masked killers to the actors all looking like they’re pushing 40 (when they’re meant to be teenagers) but it does stand above a lot of others due to its over-the-top, suspension of disbelief, leaps of logic and bat shit craziness. The characters are all dreadful human beings and deserve all the nasty shit our killer dishes out - from exploding intestines, acid baths to electro shock orgasms – there is a hell of a lot of grotesqueness to enjoy here! And for those of you who enjoy equal amounts of naked flesh, for every pair of bare breasts on display, there’s a set of male butt cheeks to match.
Mean spirited, gory and atmospherically macabre, this silly and dementedly cheesy slasher should brighten up your April 1st.
It was originally filmed as April Fool's Day but the title was changed to Slaughter High after the filmmakers had learned of Paramount Pictures's slasher film of the same title scheduled for release of the same year...
Which brings us to our 2nd placed movie, April Fool's Day.
Written by Danilo Bach (Beverly Hills Cop) and directed by Fred Walton (When A Stranger Calls) and starring scream queens Deborah Foreman (Waxwork) and Amy Steel (Friday The 13th Part 2).
'College friends gather together at an island mansion belonging to heiress Muffy St. John to celebrate their final year of school. They soon discover that each has a hidden secret from their past which is revealed and each begin to fall victim to an unseen murderer over the April Fool's Day weekend, but nothing is as it seems.'
As long as you don't mind watching a bunch of privileged white kids out goofing one another, the cast of characters in this mystery slasher are all relatively likable, which is refreshing. Renowned for its big third act twist; which can leave audiences feel cheated, the film's questionable genre setting all clevily tie into for joy of April 1st.
Needless to say, it didn't go down too well with horror fans and audiences back in 1986, and April Fool's Day is often referred to in regards to the decline of the popularity of slasher films, due to its extremely negative reactions. But like many horror films, over the years it has become a Cult favourite (mainly due to frequent late-night television airings) and has fans annually dusting off their VHS / DVD / Blu-Ray.
I guess 1986 just wasn't ready for a suspensefully clever, genre-bending and (dare I say) tasteful 80's movie.
And now for my favorite watch of the day! Released in the same year of 1986 and originally titled 'The April Fools', Killer Party is a creepy, camp Canadian cult classic!
The film boasts one of my favourite 80's Slasher cold opens ever - a movie within a movie within a high-concept music video for White Sister's EPIC 80's rock song, April.
'In order to join a sorority, three friends go to a hazing party in an old abandoned frat house with a dark past.
Unbeknownst to them, during an initiation ritual they unleash a sadistic, bloodthirsty demonic force. '
Written by Barney Cohen (Friday The 13th 4: The Final Chapter) and directed by William Fruet (Spasms), this supernatural slasher truly is a treat for fans of 80's horror.
Taking place on a college campus, Killer Party ticks all the usual Greek Life / Hell Week tropes that we've been accustomed to from watching copious amounts of slasher and comedy movies - mix in some April Fools Day high jinks and an unexpected supernatural subplot that delivers the horror.
The majority of the movie upholds your classic slasher vibes, with three loyal friends and a surprising amount of wit at the heart of the movie, but it's the third act and surprise demonic reveal that really separates this one from the pack. The movie is innovative in a subgenre not known for straying too far from tradition - not discounting the more modern likes of I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legends: Bloody Mary - both supernatural flicks under the disguise of slasher movies.
Killer Party is a nonsensical, genre-bending, fun horror hybrid which perfectly brings my April Fools Day marathon to an end. Some people just need 'a big fat cucumber', others need a good slasher with a side of possession (if you know, you know).
And there we have it, a fun filled day of horror - all 3 movies compliment one another with their similarities, but more fittingly, with their overwhelming differences.
Craig Fisher - Find me on @FisherFilms82.