31 Mar 2016

SLASHER FILM RULES - April Fool's Day (1986)

Every genre has cliches, but how well does an April's Day film follow the Slasher film rules?

April Fool's Day (1986) a group of friends celebrate April Fool's Day weekend in the traditional way, going to an island mansion to play pranks on - and kill off one-by-one - their friends.

The following analysis may contain spoilers for


Rule #1

A Warning Will Come From...

"Look! Our very own place settings... with our very own place cards -- with Ken or Barbie! Outasight!" ~ Chaz.
"Just like in Agatha Cristie." ~ Nan.

Rule #2

There Will Be T&A

"Respectable young Quaker couple returning from a quiet afternoon of nonviolent sex." ~ Chaz.

  • Nudity - Nikki is the closest, with her tight swimsuit, wet slightly see-thru top after a prank, well covered sex scene and a scene with an open top (but breasts covered).  Kit and Rob are shown in their underwear, and later Rob is seen pulling up his pants.
  • Sex - There's a sex scene with Chaz and Nikki.  Kit and Rob are interrupted when they try to have sex in the boatshed.

Rule #3

Death Will Be A Punishment For...

"You all buddies?" ~ Hal.
"Except for Skip and Nan. Them we just met." ~ Nikki.

Many of the characters are implied to have a secret, but the killer's MO seems to just be random killing.
  • 3a.  Sex - A new couple have sex, an existing couple try and two guys hit on a woman.  Muffy, Nikki amd Kit discuss their first time, and it is revealed that Nan has previously had an abortion.  Kit is the final girl.
  • 3b.  Nudity - As noted, almost with Nikki.  Nan is heard showering and seen rather chastely in a gown afterwards.  Kit and Rob are shown in underwear, but are the final pair
  • 3c.  Drinking - They all drink champagne at dinner.
  • 3d.  Drugs - Skip faces the killer when he's hiding in the boat house with what he seems to think are drugs.  When he's not with the group later, it's suggested that he's high.  There is an implication that Arch has a drug history.
  • 3e.  Hitchhiking - No one hitchhikes.
  • 3f.  Other criminal behaviour - No known criminal behaviour (although Hal may have been responsible for deaths in a car accident.)
  • 3g.  Being annoying/being cowardly/being a sleazy guy - With the joking and sniffing around the female characters, etc, most of the guys except Rob are annoying and/or sleazy.  Rob is the final guy.
  • 3h.  Being a bystander - Except Muffy, it applies to them all, really.

Rule #4

Never Go...

"What do we do know?" ~ Hal.
"Look there are little rungs leading down the side." ~ Nikki.
"So?" ~ Hal.
"So you'd better get a move on..." ~ Nikki.

  • 4a.  Basements - Rob and Kit end up in the basement, the survivors.  Buffy nails it shut.
  • 4b.  Upstairs - Rob and Kit, the survivors spend time in the attic.
  • 4c.  Showers - Nan is heard showering and seen rather chastely in a gown afterwards and not killed into long afterward.
  • 4d.  Into old sheds or out buildings - Skip is killed in the boat shed.
  • 4e.  Running off to the “safety” of the forest - Arch is got in the forest.
  • 4f.  Anywhere alone - Happens.
  • 4g.  Anywhere Remote, Isolated or Confined - Everywhere.
  • 4h.  Abandoned buildings  N/A.

    Rule #5

    Order of Death...

    "Rob, wait a minute. What's that?" ~ Kit.
    "Where?  It's just the dolls." ~ Rob.
    "She's been up here." ~ Kit.
    • 5a:  First person to appear on screen - Nikki is the first to appear on screen, but the second last killed.
    • 5b:  Black guy dies first - No minorities.
    • 5c.  The Stoner - Skip finds a plant that he thinks is marijuana There is a mild suggestion (via a prank) that Arch is a junkie.
    • 5d:  The Bimbo - Nikki, but with one of the most well-rounded bimbo characters in a slasher film.
    • 5e:  Nerdy/Funny Guy - Skip is a practical joker.  Maybe Chaz and Harvey.
    • 5f:  The Macho-Jerk - Arch.  Maybe Chaz and Harvey.
    • 5g.  The Strong Female Character - Nikki fits this, too.  Probably Muffy.  Nan is a little weak, but too studious and repressed to be the bimbo.
    • 5h.  The Protector - Rob.
    • 5i.  The Sensitive Guy - Rob.
    • 5j.  Children and animals – None.
    • 5k. The Final Girl - Kit.
    1.   Muffy [G]
    2.   Skip [E] 
    3.   Arch [F]
    4.    Nan [G]
    5.   Chaz [F]
    6.   Nikki [D]
    7.   Harvey [E]


    Rule #6

    Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

    "Muffy, where do you keep your guns?" ~ Hal.
    "Guns? We don't keep guns in this house." ~ Buffy.

    • 6a.  Communication devices - The phone seems to work fine.
    • 6b.  Lighting problems - No lighting problems (beyond a practical joke) but a lot of not turning lights on (an one torch dropped in a well.)
    • 6c.  Vehicular Transport - None, as they're on an island.
    • 6d.  Your Own Legs - Very little actual chase time.
    • 6e.  The Authorities - The local sheriff should know what's happening, but doesn't spell it out.
    • 6f.  Weapons – There is almost an incident with a gun.
    • 6g.  Escape routes - On an island with no ferry until Monday cliche.

    Rule #7

    The Final Girl

    "Rob, you and Kit, you two were the best. You figured it all out. The clues really worked." ~ Muffy.

    Kit Graham

  • 7a.  Final - With Rob, yes.

  • 7b.  Girl - Yes.

  • 7c.  Boyish - Not really.

  • 7d.  Well Drawn - As much as most of the females, better than most of the males.

  • 7e.  Virginal & innocent - No.  In a sexual relationship with Rob, who wasn't her first.  They even try to have sex in a boatshed during the film.

  • 7f.  Will be reborn - A little.

  • Rule #8 

    The Killer has a connection to...

    "Oh, god... oh no!... the picture of the girls in the study... the letter... what the Constable was trying to tell you... It's not Muffy it's her twin sister, Buffy! She has a twin sister!"  ~ Kit.

    Buffy St John

    • 8a.  The LocationHer sister was about to inherit the house.
    • 8b.  The Final GirlSister's friend. No direct connection. 
    • 8c.  The ProtectorSister's friend. No direct connection. 
    • 8d.  The Other VictimsNo connection except her sister Muffy. 
    • 8e.  FeminityFemale. 
    • 8f.  A Specific LookDowdy compared to her sister.
    • 8g.  A specific weaponWhatever's handy.

                Rule #9

                Evil Never Dies...

              "Once they were killed off, yes. Everybody had to cooperate. Otherwise, none of it would have worked!" ~ Muffy.

              • 9a. You always have to kill the bad guy twice - The killer survived. Well, everyone did, but the killer wasn't even fake killed. Of even a real person.
              • 9b. Even then the bad guy lives on - Everyone killed lived on.
              • 9c. Evil is immortal - Not really, no.

                      Rule #10

                    The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

                    "So, I'm planning on turning it into a country inn. Not just another stuffy old run-of-the-mill country inn, but one that specializes in offering once-in-a lifetime Whodunit Weekends. I needed a rehearsal. I had to try out the idea on somebody." ~ Muffy St John.

                  • 10a. They will follow the rules more - No sequel, but a planned remake became something else.

                  • 10b. They will be more formulaic - Deliberately follows formulas to pseudo-parody the genre.

                  • 10c. There will be more T&A - No T&A.

                  • 10d. There will be more and bigger deaths of the victims - No actual victims.

                  • 10e. The killer’s death will be bigger - No actual killer.

                  • Results

                      "Look, next month I get the house as part of my inheritance, it's true, but only if I can show my father that it can carry itself... what with taxes and expenses. Otherwise, he'll just sell it out of the family." ~ Muffy.

                    • The following rules are followed: 5.

                    • The following rules are partially followed: 1; 2; 4; 6; 7; 8.

                    • The following rules were not followed: 3; 9; 10.

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