Following the awesome screening of MY BLOODY VALENTINE at the Cinefamily last Thursday were two other “holiday” theme slashers from the 80’s, APRIL FOOL’S DAY and DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS. After the break, we all headed back in for more carnage.
The APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986) print was beautiful and I had not seen it in a really long time, and when I did it was on VHS. I didn’t appreciate it very much the first time, but watching it now gave me a newfound respect. Most slasher films were so similar to each other, it’s cool how this movie seems like a typical one and then pulls the rug right out from under you.
It’s about a group of spoiled rich college kids who retreat to a beautiful lakeside home for the April Fool’s day weekend, to get high and laid. One by one, they start turning up dead and soon it’s down to only a few survivors to stop the killer or die trying.
The plot, tone and look are exactly like a FRIDAY THE 13th movie. It’s even produced by FRANK MANCUSO JR. who’s responsible for the whole FRIDAY franchise and it’s released by FRIDAY distributor, PARAMOUNT. It also features AMY (FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2) STEEL, once again in the survivor girl role.
But the beauty of APRIL FOOL’S DAY is that just when you think this is nothing more than a carbon copy slasher, it reminds you what holiday we’re celebrating and that is what makes it unique and clever. It follows the formula to a tee and then takes all the piss out of it by turning everything into an elaborate prank. Nobody was killed, everyone’s fine, April Fool’s!
For some slasher purists, this doesn’t sit well. The first three quarters of the film aren’t funny enough to make it a parody, they say. But I don’t think APRIL FOOL’S DAY is a parody as much as a very smart and fresh riff on the whole genre, while staying true to the nature of the holiday it’s featuring. There is even another fake out that happens after the reveal, where the audience actually expects there to be a “real” kill and once again, April Fool! I like the way it commits to the concept and maintains its integrity to the very end.
The cast is very good and anything with DEBORAH FOREMAN (VALLEY GIRL) and THOMAS F. WILSON (Biff from the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy) is always a treat. The film was directed by FRED WALTON who also made the late 70’s babysitter stalker flick, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. If you’re a slasherphile like me, APRIL FOOL’S DAY is definitely a significant entry in the genre and a seminal part of the second wave.
The crowd thinned out a bit after the second feature, but I had never seen the next one before and decided to stick around and give it a shot. I’m very glad I did, because DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS (1984) is fucking incredible!
Check out this trailer…
…twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… they were all dead! – tagline for DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS
Did you ever want to see a Christmas theme slasher movie about a masked killer who only murders people dressed up like Santa Claus? Well if this particular niche appeals to you, then you simply must see DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS.
Someone in London is murdering all the street-corner Santas, in a city that seems to be almost over populated with them. The killer really hates anyone in a St. Nick costume and uses a variety of different methods to dispatch them, which include: stabbing, a spear through the head, strangled with a cord and dropped on a coal grill where the Santa bursts into flames (my favorite!), shot in the face at point blank range, meat cleaver in the head, castrated while urinating in a public bathroom, eye poked out with a spiked glove, etc.
There are also two amazing scenes I must describe to you. The first one involves the killer chasing a hot blonde topless woman, that’s wearing a Santa cloak over her, into an alley. He then feels her naked breasts up with the edge of his straight razor!
The second one features the killer employing an elaborate method to murder a detective getting too close, by attaching jumper cables to his car doors. When he opens the door he is horribly electrocuted.
This movie is cheesy, ridiculous, fun, sleazy, violent and incredibly entertaining! And best of all, it takes place in England during the holidays.
DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS was produced by trashy slasher king DICK RANDALL, who gave us the sublime PIECES (1982) and the awesome SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986). It was directed by and stars EDMUND PURDOM, who played the psychotic dean in PIECES. Netflix it for the holidays, you won’t be disappointed.
That was quite an evening of holiday slasher fun at the Cinefamily! This Thursday is gonna be a slasherpalooza featuring HATCHET (with director ADAM GREEN in person), SHAKMA (about a killer baboon picking off med students. Amazing!) and a Bigfoot slasher called NIGHT OF THE DEMON (referred to as ball-ripping good!). See ya there!