Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.
WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.
If you were to me ask me if there was one filmmaker out there who has consistently avoided falling into the Hollywood system and continued to create films his own way, I could think of a few possible names: John Carpenter, George A. Romero, even David Cronenberg.
Now, if you had asked for a filmmaker who had worked primarily in tits-and-ass cinema, and who had directed one single non-porn film that managed to smell worse than green shit, well, I would tell you that filmmaker’s name: Paul Norman. Yes, Paul Norman, the director of such films as Sperm Bitches, Cry Babies: Anal Scream, Bitches in Heat: Pt. 1-Locked in the Basement, The Boneheads, and roughly 100 other movies that have those kinds of icky titles.
The point is, Paul Norman, director of all those wonderful flicks of debauchery, is a master of his craft. He knows how to make a great dick film. He knows how to light deep penetration and parallel the conflicts of humanity with some serious hard anal love. He knows how to fill a scene with tension and terror just like he knows how to fill a mouth with...you know. He knows how to zoom to the inside of a woman's love hole as it's invaded by the coach, just like we wish he would zoom out from Clint Howard's face, which looks like it's been hugged by a cactus monster.
Yes, there is a movie beyond the man’s typical resume staggery; it’s a movie made from the heart, a story compelled to be told, driven by true passion for the cinema. Ice Cream Man is to Paul Norman as Plan 9 from Outer Space is to Ed Wood. Ice Cream Man was Paul Norman’s chance to mark his presence in Hollywood, to storm the red-carpet premier of his first mainstream film and say, “Shall no one celebrate my career...shall no one ever give thought to me after I pass on, let it be known that I was here…that I held my head up high…and that I crafted a movie that captured the imagination!”
Paul Norman was delirious. And oblivious. His choice to temporarily halt his porn career to make a lousy, stupid horror movie starring Richie Cunningham's brother will mystify me long after I am boringly staring at the lid of my coffin.
Paul Norman, up to the year 2001, had directed 120 films. 119 of those were pornography. One was Ice Cream Man.
|"It's OK to cry when you're sad, Billy. I cry every night|
before I go to sleep."
Ice Cream Man was released in the fall of 1995 and was greeted by many a head-scratching critics and probably the ignorant love of 12-year-old boys. And it’s a bad, bad film.
So why do I fucking like it so much?
Is it the masterful scenery-chewing performance, delivered by the scary looking Clint Howard?
Is it the dopey, twinkle-box music that distractingly sounds like a pornographic soundtrack better suited to play during scenes of awkward foreplay leading up to ass-slapping and dirty name calling?
Is it the “oh, I’m on camera?” acting techniques of Jan Michael Vincent?
Have you ever watched a movie that was bad and jokingly asked, “Jeez, did this guy used to direct PORN?” Well, you know what, fuck you, because Paul Norman seriously used to direct porn, and it’s so prevalent at several parts in the film that it’s distracting.
Ice Cream Man did for ice cream men what Jaws did for the ocean, what A Nightmare on Elm Street did for sleeping and what Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 did for garbage day. It gave pause to people considering on embarking on what used to be typical, every-day behavior; in this case, children buying ice cream from a leering man who looked anything like Clint Howard.
Ice Cream Man begins with flash back to a young Gregory Tudor, who sees the Ice Cream King get ICED (ROF) right in front of him by a passing mafia caravan spraying machine gun bullets. His mother rushes to his aid, but it’s too late, as Gregory Tudor dumbly asks, “Who is going to bring the ice cream now, mommy?” Gregory is hospitalized for the rest of his young life, and many years later, he is released after being treated by a pair of totally insane staff members. He picks up where The Ice Cream King left off.
A group of neighborhood children, who call themselves The Rocketeers for no good reason, begin to grow wise of the ice cream man’s impending insanity after one of their friends, Small Paul, goes missing. Surely this is the work of the ice cream man. Or wait, could it be the town pervert who creepily spins the children on the park tilty-whirl as he reiterates the story of the Pied Piper?
It’s OK to think that for a few minutes before the ice cream man kills him.
You know you're in the presence of a cinematic master when he introduces a red herring and then immediately kills him off.
|It wasn't the giant man-head-cone that Darla objected to,|
but Clint Howard's face.
The Rocketeers assemble and begin their conspiring.
Member # 1: Johnny, (who will grow up to be the guy that shouts MILF at the portrait of Stiffler’s Mom in American Pie) pisses off the ice cream man with his constant indecisiveness involving the texture of his cone.
Member # 2: Heather, a girl whose mother is possessed by a demon, plays the potential cooties interest.
Member # 3: Tuna, the “fat” kid (who is fat merely because of a fat pad placed in his shirts—notice the thin legs).
Tuna eventually ends up as the ice cream man’s target after the fat little miscreant catches him inexplicably dancing in the middle of the night for no explained reason. Once realizing he has been caught during his dance, Tudor shouts after the fleeing child, “You little turds are gonna have to realize you can't run from the ice cream man! I know where you live! If you tell anyone, I’ll get your mom and dad!”
Subtle, ice cream man. So subtle.
As the movie progresses, ice cream man kills more and more people, like Tuna’s cheating father and the town whore with whom he adulterates.
Two cops, Detectives Maldwyn and Gifford (played by the son of Lee Majors and seasoned wife-beater Jan Michael Vincent, respectively) show up to begin their investigation. Maldwyn then orders ice cream and ignorantly tongues a sliced eyeball around in his mouth as Gifford looks like he couldn’t give any less of a shit to be in this movie. There's "phoning it in," and then there's Jan Michael Vincent.
|"Miami Vice" at the hands of Robert Altman.|
The movie is peppered with odd behavior from our beloved Ice Cream Prince (his self-anointed title), weird flashbacks from the wacko jacko things that went on during his hospital stay, and a million shots of shoes, as Converse was a heavy sponsor of the film.
Maldwyn and Gifford eventually subpoena Ice Cream Prince with a search warrant and then rape the shit out of his ice cream headquarters. Pictures frames, little jars of sprinkles and other very small places where missing children couldn't possibly be hidden are smashed haphazardly on the floor, as Ice Cream Prince helplessly looks on.
Not finding anything, the two detectives leave, with Gifford spotting a bed of fake plastic daisies, the petals of which spin in the wind.
"Those are beautiful daisies - how do you get them to bloom like that?" (He's 100% serious.)
"I use dead policeman," says Ice Cream Prince, for reasons unknown. Gifford walks away, accepting his answer without the slightest hint of worry.
Later, as the two detectives investigate Gregory’s history at the mental hospital (and see that it’s a hellhole where the insane literally have control of the asylum), you’ll get to witness the fine acting chops of Jan Michael Vincent.
In a scene in which I am 100% confident that he was just being an asshole on the set that day and didn’t want to cooperate, we see him and his fellow detective walk through the hallway of the hospital as a large horde of the insane follow them - screaming, pawing at them, and threatening them with makeshift weapons.
As Lee Majors II attempts to act and look threatened as he fends off attacks, Jan Michael Vincent simply walks, completely and totally calm, if not a bit bored. He literally looks like he couldn’t care less about being there.
It would be rather insulting if it weren’t so fucking hilarious.
|When Clint Howard handed over his 'head-shot',|
the producers laughed...out of pity.
Nearing the end of the film, we unearth a shocking discovery: Small Paul, whom we thought was dead, was just cooling his jets at the Ice Cream Prince's hangout.
So, wait, why didn't the detective find him when they trashed the place?
Small Paul realizes that the Ice Cream Prince is an asshole and pushes him into the giant ice cream mixer and kills him.
There. I just spent more time and effort on Ice Cream Man than its own director.