Movie: "Ice Cream Man"
Directed by: Norman Apstein
Writing credits: David Dobkin, Sven Davison
Plot: There's something not quite right about ice cream man Gregory Tudor (Clint Howard). He does a lot of ominous sneering out the window of his ice cream truck, for one thing, and a couple of the neighborhood children have disappeared. Also, the sign on the back of the truck has the word "for" painted-over, and it now advises "WATCH OUT CHILDREN".
Gregory witnessed the tragic drug-related (?) shooting of his hero the Ice-Cream King, you see, and spent his life in the Wishing Well asylum. Now he's out and under the care of what seems to be a prematurely senile nurse (Olivia Hussey, how the hell did they get her to agree to do this?) who thinks the world of "my Gregory" and is an unwitting participant in the carnage.
There's not a lot of plot to tell you about here because very little of the movie makes what you'd call "sense". Kids go missing and then they turn up again. Adults are killed with little to no apparent motivation or explanation. The Ice Cream man is tailed by two inept cops (Lee Majors II and Jan Michael-Vincent) who take breaks from their halfassed investigation to consume more and more of the evidence-laden treats. At one point, there's an extended gross-out scene where Lee Majors chews an eyeball that's been planted in a scoop of Rocky Road. Really? An eyeball? You'd be unaware that it was an eyeball you were chewing on?
There's a group of little kids called the "Rocketeers" who are trying to take the Ice Cream Man down, too. With model rockets. Strapped to their bikes. And...yeah. So there's that.
They've borrowed more than a few pages from the Jason Voorhees playbook here. The Ice Cream Man is a post-traumatic psycho who threatens kids but really preys on the adults around them. He punishes sexual indiscretion. He has a fanatical adoration for the woman who takes care of him and is easily hypnotized by a photo of his idol.
Review: For all of the B-movie confusion and continuity issues, this is a fun movie to watch. Well, it's fun with alcohol. This premiered at the Clint Howard Film Festival in Chicago, in 1995, and there was plenty of alcohol to be had. I remember it well. I mean, I remember except if my mom is reading this. If my mom is reading this, I just heard from someone that it was pretty cool.
The Clint Howard Film Festival was a very special edition of one of the "Brew n View" shows at the Vic Theater. Booze flowed freely, and the quality of the films increased in direct proportion to alcohol consumed. "Rock n Roll High School" was the first film, then there was one I don't remember, and then the premiere of "Ice Cream Man". By the time Ice Cream Man came on, it could have been a video of Clint Howard doing the chicken dance and the effect would more or less have been the same.
Ice Cream Man was shot with a ridiculously low $2M budget, and that came from Converse and porn producers. All of the kids were in Chuck Taylors, and there were lots of vacant-eyed, busty extras wandering around. It's that sort of deal. In spite of the budget, they really seem to make it work. With a few exceptions (mainly the "fat kid" who obviously has pillows stuffed under his shirt), things look the way they're supposed to look. The continuity is more or less okay some of the time. That the acting could use a little work probably goes without saying.
Clint Howard is Clint Howard, in all his glory. He's so badass he can take out two cops at once, bonking them lightly over the heads with ice cream scoops. And there are some good lines. I liked when the cop-wannabe said, "I've got the gun, the badge will follow!"
If you enjoy B-movies, Clint Howard, or both, give this one a try if you can find it. Good times.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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