Directed by Norman Apstein [Other horror films: N/A]
I won’t deny that part of my enjoyment of this movie stems from strong nostalgia. I saw this film, or at least pieces of this film, quite a bit as a child, and due to that, despite the somewhat goofy idea, I sort of like what Ice Cream Man was going for.
Most of the time, when horror comedies tend toward the goofier, sillier side of things, my enjoyment wanes. There’s not necessarily a whole lot of overly silly scenes here (sure, the giant ice cream cone with a decapitated head is a bit much, but that puppet play was on point), but there were enough to make me cringe a few times. Even with that, though, I found the movie more charming than anything, which, like I said, is probably the nostalgia talking.
Really, as far as the story goes, there’s not really a whole lot happening. A bunch of kids (such as the beautifully nicknamed Small Paul and, even better, Tuna) think the new ice cream man is creepy, and potentially kidnapping the youngsters, and set out to prove it. It’s pretty much Summer of 84 twenty years earlier (only with 1/10th of the production budget, of course, as Summer of 84 was stylistic as fuck).
None of the main kids, aside from maybe Anndi McAfee, are that memorable, but there are some quality faces in here, such as Clint Howard, David Warner, Olivia Hussey, and David Naughton. Okay, Howard is pretty fun (as expected), but Warner, Hussey, and Naughton weren’t anything special. Warner (who I recently saw when watching Titanic again, and is perhaps most notable from The Omen for horror fans) didn’t have much of a character, Hussey’s performance was one of the more cringe-worthy portions, and Naughton (An American Werewolf in London) was mostly forgettable, but hey, it was still nice to see some of these people.
Despite being a rather cheesy film, there has always been one part of the story that legit creeped me out, being the asylum scene toward the latter half of the film, in which two detectives, investigating the allegations against the ice cream man, check out the mental institution he was released from. The whole of the scene is pretty unrealistic (in much the same way the existence of Gatlin from Children of the Corn is unrealistic), but it has a rather unsettling vibe to it, and I remember it actually scaring me a bit as a kid. Definitely a personal high-light for me.
Otherwise, Ice Cream Man is pretty much what you’d expect. A few more gruesome scenes, but nothing overly gory, and definitely a very cheesy movie, which, like I’ve said, adds a bit of charm to it. It’s nothing amazing whatsoever, but honestly, it’s a movie I could see myself watching again and again without hesitation, and because of that, I’d probably throw this one an average rating.
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this icy hombre.