I think the worst is over. Now that the kids are back in school and Pumpkin Beers are invading store shelves, it must be fall, right? Like it or not it’s still summer. Don’t be surprised to find yourself at a Labor Day BBQ marinating in your own sweat. Let’s try to chase summer away with a visit from the neighborhood Ice Cream Man.
Little Gregory’s only friend in the world is the Ice Cream King. Imagine the shock when the King is shot dead while he’s enjoying a treat. Gregory is so distraught he’s taken to Wishing Well Sanitarium. Decades later he (played by Clint Howard) is released and wants to reclaim the ice cream throne. As the Ice Cream Prince he hopes to bring joy to all the kids in town. But when a friend goes missing, Johnny and his Rocketeers start to think there’s more to Gregory’s odd behavior. And what are the secret ingredients in his ice cream?
This is a first time viewing and I was expecting Ice Cream Man to be more of a comedy. The flashback had me howling. Pre-Scream Horror in the mid ’90s had an odd aesthetic that I dig. So many movies looked the same. The production and budget reminded me of stuff like Silent Night, Deadly Night 5. There’s plenty of laughs but I was never expecting to feel bad for Clint Howard’s character. Don’t get me wrong, he kills people and mixes them into ice cream flavors. But the guy had been tortured for years. I was furious when the cops destroyed the ice cream parlor. Sure, he deserved it, but that was his reason for living. Even if Gregory had been innocent, that surely would have driven him to kill.
If I’m not mistaken, Ice Cream Man is Clint Howard’s first leading role since Evilspeak. In this he looks more like Brad Dourif’s backwoods cousin than Ronnie’s little bro. The rest of the cast is such an odd mishmash of Horror and Cult stars. Jan-Michael Vincent plays one of the detectives (no surprise there). Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas) plays the old nurse who watched over Gregory in the sanitarium. Sandahl Bergman (Hell Comes to Frogtown) and David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London) play that fat kid’s parents. And David Warner (The Omen) plays a minister! I’m not saying any of them are too good for a movie like this, just found it odd.
Screenwriters David Dobkin and Sven Davison didn’t have to look far for inspiration. There’s something inherently creepy about ice cream trucks. I don’t know about anywhere else but the trucks that come through my neighborhood are vans. That does nothing to help their image. Children are always warned to stay away from strangers, but ice cream trucks are treated like Christmas morning on wheels. Just today I saw two of my nephews and one of their friends storm out of the house like a swat team when they heard the ice cream truck. A little scary.
Neapolitan Milk Stout comes from Saugatuck Brewing Company in Douglas, Michigan. Milk Stouts are called that because of the lactose added to the beer before fermentation. And since lactose is not a fermentable sugar, it gives the beer a sweetness. What the mad scientists at Saugatuck are trying to recreate eating a bowl of Neapolitan ice cream. The beer has a noticeable strawberry aroma when bringing the glass to your moth. At first sip, it is frolicking through strawberry fields. Or at least those hard strawberry candies. Then it morphs into chocolate. Pretty neat trick, guys. I can’t recall the last time I indulged in the infamous three flavored ice cream. Never been a fan. Maybe I’ll make a float with the leftover beer.
The Neapolitan Milk Stout is a winter release that comes out every November. I found a four pack in Chicago after seeing John Carpenter in concert. When I drank this beer the temperature was at least in the upper 80s. After the second beer I felt like I had fallen into a swamp. Stouts and summer do not mix.
I found Ice Cream Man on a double feature DVD with Jack Frost 2. Discs don’t get more ’90s than that. Back in 2014 a Kickstarter campaign was launched for Ice Cream Man 2: Sundae Bloody Sundae with Clint Howard starring. It wasn’t funded.