The Chronicles of Horror Movie Night: Ice Cream Man (1995)
After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. Horror’s Not Dead’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!
I scream, you scream, we all scream…
When a movie comes along with Clint Howard in the starring role you know good things are ahead. Last year we watched the eerie Howard brother in the early 90s flick Ticks but his role was not quite grand enough for my liking. I can’t get enough of the balding beauty! Enter Ice Cream Man. This film from 1995 features Clint in the starring bad guy role as a very creepy ice cream slinger who also likes to chop up people for use in his specialty flavors. Pretty much every moment of this film is both magical and hysterical.Years after seeing his scoop hero gunned down, Gregory Tudor (Howard) has taken the reigns. Now he drives the big truck around selling frozen treats to kids all over town. The man does not seem exactly right, and with his history in a mental institution it’s plain to see that he’s not all there. A couple of the neighborhood kids are missing and Tudor is one of the first people the police seek to question. A small group of kids know their buddy was abducted, and possibly killed, by the ice cream man so they set out to find the truth and stop him at all costs.
Once you get past the opening credits this movie will have you in stitches with the ridiculous dialogue and situations. Our lead bad guy is a great source of the laughs with his gravel voiced delivery and constant hunched over state. He gives a fun, yet psychotic, performance. But Howard is far from the most laugh-inducing aspect of the film. Our group of oblivious kids are something truly special. The quartet refers to themselves as The Rocketeers and they are always hanging out together. And quite a diverse group they are with the average looking guy, a girl stunted by her uber-religious parents, the scrawny bookworm and, of course, the chubby kid that everyone calls Tuna. It’s Tuna with whom I identify the most in this film. Hell, it’s almost like someone filmed my life at that age and put in in this movie.
I’m getting off track here…
Anyway, these Rocketeers get into all sorts of shenanigans and it culminates into their heading out to tail Gregory at night clad in all black with matching berets (!) and large rockets on the front of their bikes. Here we all were thinking that “Rocketeers” was some name randomly picked to sound (snicker) cool, but no, they actually have rockets! Amazing! Special attention must be given to the older brother of one of the boys who spends a scene or two making fun of Tuna for being portly and, well, having the name Tuna. Can’t really say I blame him. He also has a pretty cute girlfriend.
There are some great people in this cast outside of the Rocketeers and Clint Howard, though. Playing Gregory’s old nurse, and current landlord, is Olivia Hussey in a role that makes a rather hot individual somehow look homely. Sad. Tuna’s father is none other than David Naughton and the girl Rocketeer’s reverend father is portrayed by David Warner. There are also a couple of policemen hot on the case and they are played, masterfully, by Jan-Michael Vincent and Lee Majors II. That’s right, not “Lee Majors, Jr”, but “Lee Majors II”. He looks just like his dad too. It’s a shame this crack team of law enforcers didn’t get a spin-off TV show because I’m sure it would have been spectacular.
Speaking of our detectives, there is a scene between the two of them that feels like it randomly switches to a completely different movie. They head out to the sanitarium where Gregory used to reside for some research and find that the whole place has been overrun by the patients and no one remains in charge. What follows is a slow walk through of the asylum that is decorated like any haunted house you can visit during October replete with dozens of loonies wandering about. Nothing ever comes from this lengthy divert and the two just fucking leave the building instead of trying to calm the situation or waiting for more help to arrive. A large portion of these unstable people even make it out of the building and chase their car down the street. Thanks for unleashing the crazies, coppers. I really wonder if the filmmaker just found this haunted house-esque location and decided to add this to pad out the runtime. Probably a pretty accurate guess.
Just because there are plenty of audacious moments in this flick it doesn’t mean the gore and gross-outs suffer. When you see Tudor carving out a piece of a human eyeball and hiding it in someone’s double scoop cone it’s a little nauseating. There are also some pretty cool gore moments involving a few severed heads. The FX work on these noggins is actually pretty impressive and fun to watch Clint Howard use them as puppets.
“Who are the people behind this amazing piece of cinematic history” you might ask. Well, it’s an interesting partnership actually. One of the writers, Sven Davison, really didn’t do much else and this was his only writing credit, but the other scribe is David Dobkin – future director of Wedding Crashers and The Change-Up. But who could they find to helm such a tremendous tale of frosty terror? The man behind it all is Paul Norman, who is much more well known for directing a different type of film. Yep, porn. Though he has over 120 titles under his belt (heh) the best, by far, has to be the early 90s classic Edward Penishands. If you have never seen this gem you are missing out! If you thought the ice dance from Tim Burton’s film needed less ice and more semen then you will be pleasantly surprised. I found this flick on VHS years ago somewhere and cherish it dearly. Though I am interested in tracking down his last credit from 2001 – Sperm Bitches. Sounds good.
If you are like me and somehow missed this during the direct-to-video days in the 90s you owe it to yourself to see Ice Cream Man. It’s ridiculous how much fun it is to watch. There is still a DVD available so don’t wait too much longer, buy it now! Until next week – I suggest watching this like I did, while drinking a Guinness Float!
Body Count: 9 and 1 poor, poor dog
First Kill: 00:52!!!
Best Kill: Decapitated Head in a Waffle Cone
Number of Clown Faces: 8
Coming soon to Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):
-2/8/12: The Evil (1978)
-2/15/12: Hospital Massacre (1982) aka X-Ray
-2/22/12: Necropolis (1987)
-2/29/12: Silent Madness (1984)
Tags: clint howard, edward penishands, ice cream man, the chronicles of horror movie night