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Ice Cream Man
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by Jack Sommersby

"'Would You Like Butter Brickle?'"
3 stars

A direct-to-video guilty pleasure that's entertaining more often than not.

In the incompetent 1981 horror picture Evilspeak, director Ron Howard’s brother, Clint, starred as a nerdy military-academy cadet who used supernatural powers in wreaking bloody havoc on the classmates relentlessly tormenting him. Though his acting was strictly amateurish, Howard was appealing in a strange sort of way -- his primordial wide-eyed emotionalism helped us side with him throughout his trials and tribulations; he may have acted in italics, but he was refreshingly down-to-earth. (Gosh forbid, he actually believed in his character and threw himself into it with aplomb.) Fourteen years later Howard again has a leading role, this time in the comedy-chiller Ice Cream Man, and his eccentrically goofy performance helps this trashy movie maintain something of a consistent tone. When Gregory Tudor was a mere nine-years old, he witnessed the shooting death of the neighborhood ice cream man by some Los Angeles gang members; a regular customer and an aficionado of the treats the man dished out, he went into a catatonic state and had to be committed to a mental institution. Now an adult, he has his own ice-cream truck but is extremely hostile to his child customers -- he’s bored by their requests for common menu items, with his temperamental self speaking in a Clint Eastwood-like growl that gives his clientele the creeps. And it’s a good thing health inspectors aren’t nosing around, because there are roaches and mice crawling around in his product, with human eyeballs in place of marshmallows and blood substituting for grenadine. Suffice to say, Gregory is one sick puppy, and when a group of kids suspects him of having something to do with the disappearance of one of their friends, they start tailing him and tip off the local police, and in the process make themselves targets of this deranged madman. That’s it for the bare-bones story, but the first-time screenplay by Sven Davison provides the movie with enough in the way of phantasmagorical happenstances to sate the appetites for undemanding audiences -- he never for a second expects you to take the proceedings even remotely seriously, and this allows for a fair amount of dark humor to come through. (It’s a lot more enjoyable than Paul Bartel’s smug cult classic Eating Raoul.) Gregory does away with a cheating husband and his mistress, proudly holding up king-sized sugar cones with their decapitated heads topping them (which look pretty convincing considering the production’s low budget); and when a pesky dog irks him, he’s not above disposing of it and grinding it into meat base. Director Paul Norman isn’t afraid of moving the camera around, and the bright-primary-color lighting helps give Ice Cream Man an adequate visual life. B-movie standouts David Naughton, Jan Michael-Vincent and David Warner make token appearances, with the final scene a perfectly logical extension of everything preceding it. Watching Ice Cream Man won’t improve your life in any way, believe me, but you could do worse for a harmless eighty-five minutes.

The DVD is full-frame, which is perfectly fine being that it was shot in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=28400&reviewer=327
originally posted: 01/24/15 20:38:51
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  09-May-1995 (R)



Directed by
  Paul Norman

Written by
  Sven Davison

  Clint Howard
  Justin Isfeld
  Anndi McAfee
  JoJo Adams
  Mikey LeBeau

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