Despite being made on a much lower budget than the Clint Howard vehicle ICE CREAM MAN (1995), this is a more successful combination of black humor and chills.
Joey (Henry Weckesser), Roland (DeVonn Carral), and Emily (Alisha Lobato) are grade-school friends who receive a lecture on safety from young detective Jeff Hailey (Jim Mills) after the disappearance of one of their classmates. Though no one suspects him at first, the culprit is the new ice cream
man in town (Mack Hail), who unnerves Joey when he drives past the boy's window at night. While Hailey is striking up a relationship with Joey's single mother, Samantha (Cindy Reed), the ice cream man kills another local boy and a female jogger who's taunted him, and just misses luring Emily into
Soon thereafter, the killer chases down Roland, crashing his truck in the process, and adds the boy to the body count. He then invades Joey's birthday party, terrorizing Samantha and the young guests and revealing to Joey that he's actually his father. Hailey, however, has discovered the disabled
truck and Roland's body, and arrives in time to rescue Samantha and the kids and send the ice cream man into a fatal fall down a staircase.
The makers of MR. ICE CREAM MAN maintained that it was too uncomfortable a coincidence when, shortly after they got underway on their project, the announcement was made about the similarly themed Howard vehicle. And although produced for much less money (the feature was shot on video) and given a
lower-profile release, this version is more accomplished on a creative level. Eschewing cheap humor and daring to have its villain actually knock off his young targets, MR. ICE CREAM MAN proves to be a confident and creditable low-budget effort.
Ordinarily, a director casting himself in the lead of an independent feature is a sign of either budgetary constraints or ego, but Hail proves himself in both areas here. His visuals are occasionally quite imaginative and evocative, and he brings an amusingly creepy aura to his film's villain,
resisting the easy approach of camping it up. (He should have maintained the same control over Carral, whose outspoken performance as Roland is the movie's most grating element.) The script by Hail and Jim Mills, who also steps before the camera as the steadfast hero, is rather insubstantial--the
movie is barely feature length--but unlike so many other indie horror flicks, this one doesn't have a chance to wear out its welcome. (Graphic violence, adult situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Despite being made on a much lower budget than the Clint Howard vehicle ICE CREAM MAN (1995), this is a more successful combination of black humor and chills. Joey (Henry Weckesser), Roland (DeVonn Carral), and Emily (Alisha Lobato) are grade-school frien… (more)