‘Watch out children’
Ice Cream Man is a 1995 dark comedy horror film which was produced and directed by Paul Norman, normally a director of adult movies (such as Edward Penishands; and Intercourse with the Vampire), under the pseudonym Norman Apstein. It is Norman’s first and only attempt at mainstream filmmaking.
The film was written by Sven Davison and David Dobkin and makes reference to the Pied Piper legend. It stars Clint Howard (Evilspeak; Ticks; Bloodrayne: The Third Reich), David Warner (The Omen), David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London), Olivia Hussey, Jan-Michael Vincent, Sandahl Bergman.
The film, reportedly made on an estimated $2 million budget, disappeared quickly after its release, but in recent years has developed a minor cult following among viewers who see it as an unintentional comedy, and enjoy it for its campy production values. Joe Bob Briggs eventually hosted the movie on TNT when it was shown on MonsterVision and Clint Howard made an appearance discussing the movie with Joe Bob. It was released on DVD in 2004.
In a black-and-white prologue, a young boy witnesses the murder of an ice cream man in a small town. Years later, the boy, named Gregory Tutor (Howard), returns to the town to become ice cream man himself. He has spent the intervening years in a mental hospital. He kills some people (and a dog) while doing his duties as ice cream man, leading to suspicion from local kids and the police.
Clint Howard is clearly having great fun but it’s a shame to see the likes of David Warner and David Naughton slumming it in this uneven sometimes jokey/sometimes sick attempt to remodel the Pied Piper legend for modern times against the background of yet another ‘family-familiar’ villain who turns out to be a nutter (The Stepfather; The Dentist, et al). The kids deliver good performances, which is ironic as the material is generally so weak. Paul Norman’s direction isn’t too bad either, considering that the mainstay of his career was composed of close-up money shots, but the entire enterprise is really brought down by Richard Lyons (Monster High) agonisingly awful synth score.
Adrian J Smith, Horrorpedia
‘The main problem with Ice Cream Man is it never decides whether it is going to be a true horror film or a campy satire of horror films. Certainly, some of the dialogue qualifies as camp, as in the scene where Gregory grabs Tuna from his bicycle, lifts him into the ice cream truck, and dumps him into the freezer with the classic line, “You’re ice cream!” And every time we find something out about Gregory’s past there are all of these nauseating references about how every day should be “happy, happy, happy” as the doctor in the mental hospital performs some absurd procedure.’ Chuck’s Connection
‘The idea, apparently, was to mix horror and comedy, but in failing to find a dominant one way or the other, the story is haunted by ambiguity and uncertainty. In the opening act, for example, the film appears to be going for a vibe of dark childhood whimsy.’ Lucid Despair
‘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.’ Horror’s Not Dead