Ice Cream Man (1995) Review: Goosebumps, Rated R
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for the…”
Synopsis: After being released from the Wishing Well Sanatorium, all Gregory wants to do is make the children happy. So he reopens the old ice cream factory, and all the unappreciative brats are reprocessed into the flavor of the day.
Despite its R rating, Ice Cream Man feels more like a Goosebumps special aimed at kids than an adult horror movie. Not only are the protagonists a group of kids (think It‘s Loser’s Club or the gang from Stranger Things) but the effects also seem geared towards a younger audience. Though the concept may be a little disturbing, the portrayal is by and large gentle enough that this is probably a safe watch even for some younger viewers.
A traumatized child grows up to be a mental health patient turned ice cream man. Gregory (Clint Howard) seems gentle enough, but his odd and violent reactions to rudeness lead him to start a rash of punishments against his customers. But despite the classic soylent green-style trope, all of the gore is pretty cheesy looking (think red paint and Halloween store gummy eyeballs). The movie also relies heavily on insects to make its audience squeamish, which is more or less helpful depending on your relationship with bugs.
Unfortunately for adults, though the movie is ostensibly aimed at an older audience, it’s pretty dull. The slow progression coupled with the kiddie horror feel is rough, and very few of the jokes or jumps are at all likely to land their mark with an older crowd. Even the jokes the filmmakers might not have intended (“fat kid” Tuna’s fat suit, for instance) can’t make the movie much better. Ice Cream Man is mostly only useful to help younger viewers feel like they’re getting away with watching an R-rated movie.
Of course, this is one of those awful movies that some people find hilarious. (Usually, we’re those people finding the movie hilarious – just not this time). It has a decent following, so YMMV… but proceed with caution.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C