6.07.2008

April Fool's Day (1986 & 2008)

DIRECTED BY
Fred Walton (1986) & The Butcher Brothers (2008)

STARRING (1986) 
Amy Steel - Kit Graham
Deborah Foreman - Muffy St. John
Deborah Goodrich - Nikki
Ken Olandt - Rob
Jay Baker - Harvey
Clayton Rohner - Chaz Buchinsky
Thomas F. Wilson - Arch Cummings


Score - 1.5 Howls Outta 4

STARRING (2008)
 Scout Taylor-Compton - Torrance Caldwell
Josh Henderson - Blaine Cartier
Taylor Cole - Desiree Cartier
Jennifer Siebel - Barbie Reynolds
Sabrina Aldridge - Milan Hastings
Samuel Child - Peter Welling
Joseph McKelheer - Charles
Joe Egender - Ryan


Score - 1 Howl Outta 4
 
April 1st - April Fool's Day - a day where we pull pranks on people and can walk away from them laughing with the victims of those pranks. Personally, I don't "celebrate" this day like some people do. Maybe it's because I'm not that gullible or naive and I can't get fooled unless the joke is really clever. For example, that maze game where you can't pass that certain level. When you make it to that certain point, you get that loud scream and a face of Linda Blair from THE EXORCIST making you scream like a little bitch. Now, that's a prank. That was the last time I was ever fooled - until this past week.

You see, I had the opportunity to watch the remake to a slasher film many hold dear to their hearts called, what else, APRIL FOOL'S DAY. I heard many horrible things about the remake and felt that I wanted to add my own thoughts on the film. But for me to do that, I had to watch a film that I didn't want to watch again. And that film was the original APRIL FOOL'S DAY from 1986. So thanks to Netflix [cheap plug], I received a copy of the original and managed to watch both films back to back. So did I enjoy the original a second time around? Is the remake not as bad as others made it to be? Or am I just punking myself?

PLOT
In the 1986 version of the film, some college friends decide to sail to some remote island to visit their friend Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman) over the weekend to celebrate April Fool's Day. The trip doesn't start out well because some deckhand is injured in an accident that takes a chunk of skin off of his face. But that somber feeling disappears when they reunite with Muffy, who's packed her house with a bunch of stupid pranks for some laughs. Soon, the friends begin finding newspaper clippings in their rooms that lead to the revelation that Muffy has a twin named Buffy who was traumatized by an April Fool's Day from her past. This knowledge may become useful, as the friends start going missing one by one, eventually ending up dead. Is this a joke? Or is someone adding some reality to April Fool's?

In the 2008 version of the film, some bitch rich girl named Desiree (Taylor Cole) and her asshole brother Blaine (Josh Henderson) are hosting some debutante ball for Torrance (Scout Taylor-Compton) on April Fool's Day. Desiree is really using the ball as a way to pull a cruel prank on a rival named Milan (Sabrina Aldridge) by slipping a roofie into her drink in order for Blaine to seduce her and bed her while Desiree videotapes the entire thing to post on YouTube. However, the prank goes wrong when the drug gives Milan a really bad reaction. Milan falls over a balcony and lands to her death, traumatizing those who knew about the prank and didn't do anything to stop it. No one owned up to it and everyone escapes criminal punishment, although their guilt still haunts them. A year passes and all the people involved in the death are given anonymous letters to visit Milan's gravesite. Once they all arrive, they receive a package that states that if no one owns to the crime, they will all die on the year anniversary of Milan's murder. Apparently this threat is no April Fool's.

REVIEW
I really wanted to review this in a way where I could go all out and act like I give a damn about these two films by praising them, and then ending it with "April's Fools!" at the end. But I was already fooled twice and giving these films an entertaining review like that would only fool me again. So you're just gonna have to read me babble for a while.

I still find the original APRIL FOOL'S DAY to be as boring and slow as I found it the first time I watched it years ago. I know a lot of people love this film and can see why people do. But it doesn't click for me. The characters are bland, but okay I guess. The deaths, while decent, aren't anything I would pee in my pants over. The story is pretty flimsy. And the ending just pisses me off. Yes, I know what the title of the film is, but it still annoys me and wish the second twist ending could have done something to redeem what I just saw.

You'd think the remake would solve that issue? Nope, they keep the twist ending in tact. But at least here, I thought it had a purpose even though the story here was also kind of flimsy and way too predictable for its own good. And the characters are so stereotypical and annoying that I actually wanted them to die. And deaths...what deaths? They were all on-screen! UNRATED my ass! At least the 2008 version kept my attention more than the original did because of the pacing. But I wouldn't want to watch either film again.
Let me just state this before I continue on: these two films are only remakes by name. Like PROM NIGHT. While the concepts are sort of similar, they both go in different directions with the story it's trying to tell. Personally, I thought the remake had the better story of the two versions. I appreciate the concept and the attempt at mystery as to who Muffy's twin was. If it was developed more than it was, I probably would have cared more. Plus the characters, while likable, don't do much for me either. They just left me cold and I didn't really feel anything when they were butchered one by one [well maybe except Amy Steel and the dude that played her boyfriend]. They were stereotypes, but stereotypes that didn't bring anything to the table that I could work with. Color me bored. With a good story and some good characterization and purpose as to why we should root for these people, I probably would enjoy APRIL FOOL'S DAY (1986) more. The story in the remake, while cliched and predictable, at least attempted to go from point A to point B in a logical sense. The fact that someone ACTUALLY dies at the beginning of the film was really what made me continue on watching the remake, because I wanted to know how these people were gonna get away with this. It was like watching the beginning of PROM NIGHT, but knowing these characters are scumbags that are gonna pay for what they've done. And of course, you get the whole I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER schick with the cards reading "I Have Proof", forcing the gang to reunite and figure out what's going on [although half of the cast believes the cards are a real threat while the others could care less]. Too bad the characters weren't at all likable [except for Taylor-Compton's Torrance] and could have all been murdered in horrific ways for all I cared. I mean, they were all snobs who pretty much got away with murder and acted like the whole thing messed with their heads, yet they were still getting laid and wearing Prada shoes and driving Mercedes-Benzes. Wow...they were sure punished and haunted with guilt! Plus they couldn't even trust each other, to the point where we'd have an argument every five minutes which just made me want to reach into my TV screen and strangle every single one of them. At least the original had two characters I had some connection to. The remake only had one.

And the remake definitely had the much better ending, even though both are obvious if you managed to get as far as reading the title to these films. The ending in the original still annoys me, because it's such a cop-out. Yeah, I know it's APRIL FOOL'S DAY and the ending had to reflect that, but the second twist ending could have done something to make the first twist kind of ironic in a way. It would have totally changed the way many bothered by the ending see the film. The original's ending made me feel like I wasted 90 minutes of my life for absolutely nothing. And while the remake has a similar ending, the second and third twists make it worth my time almost. I didn't see the second twist coming at all and I was actually surprised when what took place went down. It's definitely the best part of the film and it left me actually laughing at how ironic it was. So at least the ending was somewhat improved in the remake. Still, it doesn't make up the rest of the film which just coasted until that point.

The direction by Fred Walton in the original and The Butcher Brothers in the remake were average at best. Nothing really stands out. There's no stylish angles or edits or anything. The directors shoot what needs to be shot to get the message barely across. The Butcher Brothers had better pacing than Walton in my opinion. But I felt the original film did have better moments of suspense and tension during the stalking sequences and captured the scenery of the crime very well. The Butcher Brothers didn't really do much of that, instead focusing on the good looks of their stars and cutting away from the death scenes too much. So Walton did a better job than The Butcher Brothers, if I had to compare the two.

The music in the original by Charles Bernstein definitely trumps the music in the remake. The score in the original was subtle, playful, and simplistic that matched the mood of the film well. The remake had a bunch of poser hip-hop and rock crap that pretty much sounded the same. If that was supposed to scare me, it didn't.

The acting in both is mixed bag, although some people do a good job with what they're given. Amy Steel, from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, is very good as Kit. She's tough, intelligent, and the kind of girl I would love to hang with sometime. Definitely dug her alot. Ken Olandt as boyfriend Rob was pretty good too and I loved his freak out at the end. I'll admit...I laughed. Deborah Foreman as Muffy was a pretty good actress too and I bought her insanity thing at the end. Plus she was pretty smokin' too. Deborah Goodrich as slutty Nikki looked great and did the slut thing well, but I didn't really give a damn about her. The other actors were okay at best [was that Thomas F. Wilson a.k.a. Biff from BACK TO THE FUTURE in here?]. I just wish the characters were interesting because they didn't pull me in as well as they should have. 
The remake had worse acting but at least as stereotypical the characters were, I felt something towards them. The three best actors were actually the leads. Taylor Cole, who looks like a younger Charisma Carpenter, was totally believable as the bitchy and selfish Desiree. She's the kind of woman you love to hate but can't help but want to sleep with her either. Yes, the "bitch = hot" rule definitely applies to Cole. Too bad she had a character I couldn't root for. Same goes for Josh Henderson of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES fame as Desiree's brother, Blaine. I bought the whole snobbish prick act and thought he did a pretty good job with it. Plus he takes his shirt off a lot in the film, so anyone interested in that might want to rent this. But again, his character wasn't likeable at all and I couldn't root for him. The only one who came close was Torrence, played by HALLOWEEN 2007 star Scout Taylor-Compton. She's cute and knows how to hit some emotional elements in the story. I'm just wondering why she's wasting her time starring in remakes that are unnecessary? Also, she started to annoy me towards the end of the film [I blame the script for that, not the acting itself]. The other actors were pretty horrible, especially Jennifer Siebel's beauty queen snob, Barbie, and Senator Peter Welling played by Samuel Child. First off, they looked way older than the other characters. Plus they had such annoying characters that weren't help by their awful protrayals. Joseph McKelheer was also a bad actor as Charles, but at least his gay schick and fake tan was pretty humorous. But yeah, the original definitely had the better acting of the two, believe it or not.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED FROM WATCHING THIS FILM (HA! APRIL FOOL'S!)
1. It's funny when someone's fly is open. It's not funny when nothing visible hangs out of it. Good luck with that, Inchworm!

2. The prudish chick had a faux flatulence problem. She's taking being anal to a whole 'nother level.
 
3. Cigars that explode in your face aren't fun. Well maybe it is for Boy George, but not for me.

4. If you want to get a girl into a sexual mood, don't do her around a corpse. That's not the stiffy she's interested in.

5. The Southern guy wants to plow Nikki's field. I'm sure that line worked wonders on both Britney and Jamie-Lynn Spears. Talk about being a hoe!

6. Some chick didn't know who Hitchcock was. Someone should go PSYCHO on her and push her out of a REAR WINDOW so she can fall down and get run over by a train going NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Kids these days...

7. Flabby people should not dance half-naked in public. If I wanted to see Jell-O, I'd be at the supermarket.

8. Drugging a girl to pull off a sex prank is pretty low. Although it's not as low as her fall to her death. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am.

9. If you can't swim, don't own a swimming pool. And if you do, don't wear shiny silver undies. It'll totally clash with the coroner's bag. Have some respect!

10. Don't ever call a current pageant Queen "old". She'll crown you in the name of world peace.

THE FINAL HOWL
Both APRIL FOOL'S DAY films do nothing for me as a movie watcher, but if I had to recommend one of them, I'd go with the original. At least the acting is better in that one, plus the mystery is okay and the death scenes are more than decent. But if you're interested in really stereotypical assholes that you aren't able to root for, yet are part of an enjoyable ending, then go with the remake. Just don't complain when you spend 90 minutes of your life wondering what you could have been doing instead of watching a piece of crap. Believe me, I know how that goes. APRIL FOOL'S DAY in early May? It may have been delayed but these two films sure as hell fooled me BIG time. Blah.

1 comment:

  1. i recently posted my review of the original, it's kinda a weird movie. i'm reading your take now. mine is at www.moviesleftfordead.com. the remake is one of several remakes i refuse to see.

    ReplyDelete

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