Retro Review: ‘Ice Cream Man’

While he was born to a respected show business family, Clint Howard has often found himself playing characters who were odd or deranged. In a strange way this has endeared him to movie fans. In 1998 the MTV Movie Awards had to retire their satirical Lifetime Achievement Award because his genuinely emotional acceptance of the award would never be topped. One of his most memorable performances came in a 1995 horror/comedy Ice Cream Man which has become a major cult classic.

After witnessing his local ice cream man gunned down, a young Gregory is committed to a torturous insane asylum. Once he has finished his stint there, Gregory has taken over the ice cream route in his old neighborhood leaving body count along the way. As this lunatic continues to slaughter those who get on his wrong side a group of kids known as the Rocketeers catch on to what he is doing. Their warnings to the adults mostly fall on deaf ears, so they set out to stop the carnage themselves…..or get turned into a treat on the menu.

Clint Howard makes no attempt to hide how much fun he is having in Ice Cream Man. While on the surface he is simply a killer with several screws loose, the character actor is able to convey, sadism, sympathy, and comedic chops along the way. Howard poured a ton of work into this role, even screaming himself hoarse on the way to set everyday in order to get that rasp in his voice. Anyone who writes off his talent due to his being a “B or C grade” actor seriously needs to watch this movie.

In a fun move director Norman Apstein chooses to focus in close-up on Grgeory’s hands and disgusting work station when he is making his special frozen treats. Forcing the viewer to behold buckets of ice cream covered in rats, gunk, and the remains of his victims. In fact all of the kills in this movie are hilariously grotesque on a cartoonish level.

Ice Cream Man is over-the-top campy horror at its finest and has been rewarded with a devoted fanbase. A few years ago there was even a strong push for a sequel as many, including Clint Howard himself, launched a fundraising campaign. This truly is an enjoyably gory and hilarious film well deserving of the adoration it has among horror fans.