• Ice Cream Man

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 24th, 2017.
    Director: Paul Norman (as Norman Apstein)
    Cast: Clint Howard, Justin Isfeld, Anndi McAfee, Jojo Adams, Mikey LeBeau, Olivia Hussey, David Naughton, David Warner, Jan Michael Vincent, Lee Majors II
    Year: 1995
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    The Movie:

    From Paul Norman, director of Edward Penishands, comes this 1995 slasher film starring the mighty Clint Howard as the titular killer, an Ice Cream Man named Gregory Tudor. He drives his ice cream truck around an average American suburb, serving up frozen treats to neighborhood kids like Johnny Spodak (Justin Isfeld), Heather Langley (Anndi McAfee), Chris 'Tuna' Cassera (Jojo Adams, who is a fairly skinny kid in an obvious fat suit) and Small Paul (Mikey LeBeau). These kids, who call themselves The Rocketeers, are instantly suspicious of Tudor, a new addition to the neighborhood, it’s clear that he’s got a past, and when they see him murder a friend? They know something is up.

    And what a past he has! See, Gregory saw his beloved ice cream man gunned down in front of him as a child. As he got older, he went insane and spent much of his past in an insane asylum, The Wishing Wells Mental Hospital to be precise. When people start disappearing in the area, the kids wonder if maybe he doesn’t have something to do with it. Of course, the local cops – Detectives Gifford (Jan-Michael Vincent) and Maldwyn (LeeMajors II) – start poking around. As it turns out, Tudor is every bit the psychotic murderer he appears to be, and not only does he kill people, but he uses them to make the ice cream he’s been serving up to all those kids! Given that the adults don’t believe them and the cops are predictably useless, it’s up to The Rocketeers to stop Tudor before he can kill again.

    A reasonably gory but fairly uneven mix of horror and comedy, Ice Cream Man plays more like a spoof on horror pictures than anything that we’re meant to take seriously. There are some fairly gross moments here, most of which involve people eating Tudor’s product, and some decent kills, however. As to the film’s comedic element? Well it’s not as funny as the writers probably thought it was, a quality that somehow manages to turn in on itself, making the movie funnier than it should have been. To better explain, the intentional comedy falls flat enough that it somehow becomes unintentionally funny.

    There are decent production values here. If this wasn’t made on a huge budget it is at least competently put together on a technical level. The cinematography is never mind blowing but it is at least decent, and the special effects work well enough. Costuming is fine, the locations are just dandy and the score is alright.

    What really makes Ice Cream Man worth watching, however, is the cast. There are some surprising choices here – we get Olivia Hussey as a nurse, a monotone Jan-Michael Vincent as a cop and Lee Majors’ son as his partner. David Warner has a small part in the film as a priest while Sandahl Bergman and David Naughton play Tuna’s parents. The film also stars baseball player Steve Garvey and Doug Llewelyn of The Peoples Court. Look for porn star Tori Welles (who was Norman’s wife at one point) in a small role. The true titan of this picture, however, is Clint Howard. Clearly cast because of his unorthodox features, Howard makes the most of this starring role. He overacts in the best possible way, putting on a puppet show with two disembodied heads, serving up cones with human parts in them and creeping out children in perfectly skeezy ways.


    Ice Cream Man arrives on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome on a 50GB disc framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and it looks…. Gorgeous! This is quite an improvement over the long out of print DVD release from Ardusty Entertainment, a lousy fullframe transfer that came out in 2004. The increase in detail is substantial, at time revelatory, and color reproduction is spot on. Black levels are nice and deep there are no authoring issues to note, meaning that the picture is free of any obvious compression artifacts. There’s virtually no print damage here, the picture is damn near pristine, while its natural grain structure remains intact. Edge enhancement and noise reduction are non-issues. Really, Ice Cream man looks amazingly good on Blu-ray.

    The only audio option for this release is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track with subtitles available in English only. No issues to note here. The audio is clean, clear and nicely balanced. Dialogue is always easy to understand, the score and the effects work sound good and there’s decent enough range in a few scenes too.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring director Paul Norman. There are a few spots where he clams up and goes silent but when he’s engaged, he’s interesting enough. He talks about how the movie was originally intended to be a straight horror film, what it was like working with the child actors and some of the difficulties that entailed, where and why reshoots were added to the film, how the different ‘name’ actors came to be in the picture and more. He doesn’t go into a lot of detail about Jan-Michael Vincent’s behavior on set, opting instead to take the high road and describe him as troubled. He also talks about some of the effects work, what went into getting Tudor’s van setup the way it appears in the film, the hospital locations used in the film and other related topics.

    Also included on the disc is an almost complete version (some bits had to be trimmed due to rights issues) episode of Monstervision, the Joe Bob Briggs hosted series in which he could offer commentary before, during and after the movie. He’s accompanied here by Clint Howard himself. This version runs just under two hours in length and it’s taken from a tape source (which makes sense given its television origins). Given that this is how a lot of people were first introduced to the movie it’s pretty cool to see it included on this disc.

    From there, check out two exclusive interviews, the first of which is What’s The Scoop, an interview with Clint Howard himself! Clocking in at just shy of twenty-minutes, this piece starts off with Howard talking about how he got a call from his agent basically offering him the part. He talks about how he’s played the lead in a horror film before (Evilspeak), going in to talk to Norman, and landing the part. He talks about how he enjoyed making the film but that he feels the movie goes off the rails by trying to be a kids’ movie and a horror movie at the same time. He then goes on to talk about what it was like on the shoot, working with the kids, acting alongside Olivia Hussey and some of the other bigger names in the picture, befriending Norman, prepping for the role, his thoughts on the movie, it’s cult following and it’s legacy.

    After that, Norman is interviewed for fifteen minutes in a lovely kitchen setting with a nice selection of wine behind him. He talks about working with producer David Goldstein and how they decided to do a horror film, their attempts to find a script, casting his ‘wife at the time’ in a small role, working with and befriending Clint Howard, issues with working with child actors and how that can cause issues with a production schedule, shooting the bigger names in the film in a day or two, his thoughts on the score and how he feels it is inappropriate for the movie, shooting gory inserts and more.

    The third interview on the disc is with producer David Goldstein and it runs seven and a half minutes. While smoking a cigar he talks about producing The Erotic Adventures Of The Three Musketeers in 1992 and how after that he went on to produce Ice Cream Man. He then shares his thoughts on the movie, Howard’s performance, how the movie went over budget and why, and how the movie was ‘a piece of crap’ that he had to cut from over two hours in length to ninety minutes in order to get distribution. He then talks about how he didn’t make all of his money back on the film, some of the bigger names on the shoot and how Vincent was ‘drunk by ten o’clock in the morning.’

    Rounding out the extras are a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Ice Cream Man is pretty goofy stuff but Clint Howard’s tour de force performance in the lead role makes it completely worthwhile – he’s an absolute blast to watch in this one. Vinegar Syndrome has gone all out for the Blu-ray release, loading the disc up with extras and presenting the movie in beautiful shape.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      You should change “decapitated heads” to severed heads. Bodies get decpitated, heads are severed, because decapitated means having the head removed. So, unless it is some mutant head-on-a-head situation, you can’t ever decpitate a head!
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      I'm gonna change it to disembodied instead, so you can suck it.
    1. Newt Cox's Avatar
      Newt Cox -
      Nice I can finally replace my cheap DVD that has this and Jack Frost II on it.
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jane View Post
      I'm gonna change it to disembodied instead, so you can suck it.
      That’s still better, so I win!!!!!!