Deadly Pranks – April Fool’s Day (2008)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the holiday horror film, April Fool’s Day.

Usually, I include Catie’s summary that applies to both films.  But this time, I tweaked it just a bit:

One year after an April Fool’s prank goes horribly wrong, a group of friends realize the joke is on them when they start to die one by one…

For once, I didn’t actually request to cover the remake.  I know;  I know.  No one believes me… but it’s true.  Since I had already seen both films, I let Catie choose which one she wanted to review before turning in any requests.  And with her decision to cover the original, I ran out and found a cheap copy of the remake… considering I couldn’t find it on cable, On Demand, or Amazon streaming.  I had only watched the 2008 film once, and while I sort of remembered it, I couldn’t recall enough of the movie for the sake of this post.  And that, my friends, should have been my first clue as to just how good this version was/is.  Can anyone hear my sarcasm through my writing?

Anyway…

While the young cast in the 1986 film was rather popular at the time, April Fool’s Day (2008) cast primarily unknown actors at the time (at least to the general viewing audience) with only a few familiar faces.  However, today, quite a few of these folks are very recognizable…

Taylor Cole (CSI: Miami and The Event)
Josh Henderson (the incredibly sexy John Ross Ewing from TNT’s new Dallas)
Scout Taylor-Compton (The Rob Zombie remakes of Halloween)
Joe Egender (Alcatraz and American Horror Story: Asylum)

Yes, that’s Josh Henderson in the middle sans shirt.

It’s not surprising that the others in the film haven’t skyrocketed to success just yet, but that’s not to say we won’t see any of them in successful projects in the future—right?  I’m not trying to hate on any of the actors in this movie, I’m just implying that this job probably didn’t do them any favors.

The 2008 film isn’t so much a remake, just another telling of April Fool’s pranks between friends and foes with the slasher/horror element.  The original is so much more suspenseful than this flick, and the fact that the viewers really can’t connect with or care for any of these characters doesn’t help.  At least not for me.

April Fool’s Day (2008) might just be one of the more recent films that fall into the campy category—and I usually only use this word to describe older films in the horror genre.  Not only that, but Catie mentioned the scary music as one of the clichéd elements in the original… well, the music in the “remake,” and I say that loosely… that’s why it’s in quotes, is almost goofy at certain points in the film.  There aren’t any “grisly, cringeworthy murders” like in the 1986 version, and there are no “cheap scares that make you jump.”  Really, the only horror clichés that exist in both films are the partying teenagers, and in the 2008 flick, I’m not sure they’re technically teens… let’s go with young adults.

At least the film has pretty people…

I normally love slashers, especially when centered around a particular holiday; and while I have now seen this twice and actually own the DVD, I can’t find much to say about it that’s positive.  Well, other than the eye candy… and the fact that I’m quite certain the role of Blaine Cartier was great on the resume for Josh Henderson when he auditioned for the part of John Ross Ewing.  The Cartiers are “The Kennedys of the Carolinas” and being wealthy, privileged, and entitled doesn’t even begin to describe these kids… just like Mr. Ewing.

So, in closing, I’d like to quote the character of Wilford (the butler): “Oh, my.”

I’m not getting those ninety minutes back.  If you want to watch a movie called April Fool’s Day, go for the original.  Hands down.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of April Fool’s Day?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

Friday FaBOOolousness – The Boo Factor: Halloween

Who can get through the Halloween season without watching the spooky 1978 film, Halloween?  Not this horror movie fan!

The House

The Mask

The Scream Queen

Michael Myers

The movie opens with a young Michael Myers stabbing his teenage sister to death in 1963.  He is admitted into Smith’s Grove Sanitarium where he spends the next eighteen years undergoing treatment from psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis.  But, on October 30th 1978, Michael awakens from his catatonic state, escapes the hospital, and steals a car.  Where’s he going?  He has unfinished business in Haddonfield, Illinois

The next morning, we’re introduced to Laurie Strode and her best friends Annie and Linda, a happy group of teenage girls walking to school.  The three friends agree to babysit later that night, Halloween night, despite the fact that Laurie feels like someone has been watching her all day – a man in a dark jumpsuit wearing a weird, white mask. 

Later that night, Annie’s boyfriend calls for a ride, so she drops off the little girl she is watching with Laurie who is conveniently babysitting Tommy Doyle across the street.  Alone in the car waiting for her boyfriend, Michael sits up from the back seat and kills Annie.  Tommy watches as the “Boogie Man” carries Annie’s lifeless body back to the house, but Laurie shrugs off Tommy’s antics as a Halloween scare. 

Next, Michael discovers Linda and her boyfriend Bob having sex in the house.  What are the rules of horror movies?  Never have sex.  Have sex, and die. 

Michael sets his eyes on his true target – Laurie.  After very suspenseful scenes, Laurie barely escapes Michael’s grasps and manages to hide the children before crawling deep into a corner of an upstairs closet.  Just as Michael finds her, Dr. Loomis finally catches up to his patient and shoots him.  Michael falls from the bedroom window; however by the time Loomis looks out, he is gone. 

Queue The Music

Ever wonder why the film is referred to as John Carpenter’s Halloween?  That’s because John Carpenter wrote the screenplay (with Debra Hill), produced (with Hill, and others including Moustapha Akkad) and directed the movie, and created the original music.

In October 2010, the Biography Channel aired Halloween: The Inside Story, and my appreciation for the original film of the Halloween franchise grew.  Not only did the film captivate audiences, but the movie’s success came with an extremely low budget, even for the 1970s. 

Carpenter took the small financing and hired a ton of no name actors, including the now famous, Jamie Lee Curtis to play Laurie Strode, Michael’s main target.  He approached famous actors to play the part of Dr. Samuel Loomis, but after multiple rejections, Carpenter finally found an English actor interested in the role, Donald Pleasance.

The other cast members had a few film credits to their name, but many were considered “B” movie actors: Nancy (Loomis) Kyes played Annie; P.J.  Soles starred as Lynda; and Nick Castle played “The Shape” – or Michael Myers as we know him.

Keeping within the small budget, Carpenter selected areas in California for filming the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois, and he tasked the actors with gathering and dropping the fake fall leaves over and over again during the twenty-one days of filming.  The most astonishing of all the Halloween facts learned while watching Biography’s special, was the fact that the Michael Myers’ mask is actually a Captain Kirk mask painted and tweaked just a bit so that it wasn’t recognizable as the popular Star Trek character.

Originally the The Babysitter Murders, Carpenter’s movie saw extreme box office success. The approximate $300,000 film made over $47 million at the theaters.  The Halloween franchise remains popular today and consists of ten films, including two recent remakes by rocker, Rob Zombie

Pleasance and Curtis have remained loyal to the franchise; Pleasance filmed a total of five Halloween films and Curtis four.  The Halloween movies have also featured a few familiar faces over the years:  Danielle Harris (Halloween 4, 5, and both of Rob Zombie’s remakes); Paul Rudd (The Curse of Michael Myers); Josh Hartnett, LL Cool J, Michelle Williams, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Adam Arkin, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (H20); Sean Patrick Thomas, Tyra Banks, and Busta Rhymes (Resurrection); Malcolm McDowell and Scout Taylor Compton (Zombie’s 2007 and 2009 movies).

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the only film in the franchise that doesn’t tell Michael Myers’ story, and is by far my least favorite.  So which one is my favorite?  The original, of course.  But, I’ll watch  Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and Halloween: H20 anytime I can!

Did the original 1978 Halloween scare you?  Did you ever think twice about babysitting on Halloween?  Which of the Halloween movies is your favorite and least favorite?  Who wins – Michael / Freddie / or Jason?  I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Halloween!