Thursday, April 01, 2010

Oh, HA HA.

Happy April Fool's Day, everyone! Last October I finally got around to seeing this 1986 classic (it was one of Cinefamily's wonderful slasher marathons, screening after "My Bloody Valentine" on a holiday-themed night). It's unique, all right. Every slasher movie is essentially a game, with bit players knocked out one by one, routes of escape systematically shut off, until the killer and final survivors meet for a final match. But this is one of the only slashers to make that theme overt: unbeknownst to the main characters, and to the audience (sorry, spoilers, but it came out in 1986 for heaven's sake), it really IS a game.

College student Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman, marvelously creepy) invites a bunch of her friends to spend spring break on her island vacation home. It's April Fool's Day, and Muffy happens to love practical jokes, so the house is rigged with goofy paraphernalia like joke drinking glasses, joke doorknobs, joke light switches -- stuff that's dumb at first, but eventually Muffy's guests are going to NEED those doorknobs in working order, because it seems there's a killer on the island. Maybe even in the house! Creepy reminders of the guests' dark secrets show up in their rooms. People start to disappear. Muffy starts acting completely spacey and weird. Eventually, clever coed Kit (Amy Steel) and her boyfriend work out the mystery: Muffy has an evil twin sister called Buffy who's been locked away in an institution, but has escaped. Look out!

I can't tell you how weird it is, even knowing the ending ahead of time, to see Kit burst through a door and see Muffy standing there with all her "victims" alive and well. Audiences reacted really badly to this movie, and I can see why (I felt similarly after watching "The Village," although I still love it). Nobody likes being made a fool of, and poor Amy Steel still looks grouchy as it all ends.

There's some interesting tension in this movie between Muffy and another girl named Nan (Leah Pinsent). Nan seems to be particularly hurt by Muffy's weird behavior, and she comes in for some particularly vicious personal pranks involving a rumor about an abortion she may or may not have had. In a bizarre little coda, Nan gets Muffy back in kind for all the April Fool's behavior -- is something going on with these two? Or am I just thinking of lesbians because Amy Steel is here and she's so durn cute? I don't know. Either way it's a fun movie to see with a lively audience. Hooray!


Stacie Ponder said...

I love this movie so very much, but I know plenty of people who hate it oh so much. The fake-out really doesn't bother me in the slightest.

However, the novelization features a third act/alternate ending where Kip tries to kill his sister for the inheritance. There are even some production stills floating around, adding fuel to the rumor that the alternate ending was actually filmed.

Sorry, that's probably more than you wanted to know...but it's one of those tasty 'urban legends' that horror nerds like me thrive on. :)

AE said...

The twist didn't *bother* me exactly but it was sort of jarring -- like having to get out of a funhouse ride in the middle (not that I have ever been kicked out of a funhouse). It would be interesting to have a third act with actual homicidal intentions! I wonder if they worried that the audience wouldn't believe it was real.

All of which is to say: the NOVELIZATION??? *mind boggles*

AE said...

I used to have the novelizations of "License to Drive" and "Return to Oz"... wish I had held on to those. But horror novelizations, wow. That's something else altogether!