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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ice Cream Man

Last time we watched the killing spree of The Fisherman, this week it's the Ice Cream Man's turn! It's a film with a surprisingly strong cast, so it might actually turn out to be pretty entertaining. Get ready, because we have a half gallon of SPOILERS to get through!

As the movie begins, we get a very abrupt opening shot of a black-and-white suburban setting. An ice cream truck is parked, and the vendor is happily handing out treats to the local children. Then a black sedan drives up, and a pair of hoodlums shoot the ice cream man to death, before they speed away. Um, okay. Is the movie 30 seconds long this week?

Apparently not. A young boy named Gregory was a witness to the execution, and he approaches the body to pick up a frozen treat that landed on the ice cream man's back. As Greg is sitting on the curb and staring off into space, his mother runs to him to see if he's all right. I'm going to go ahead and predict that he's not...especially now that i can see that some of the blood from the dead man is now dripping down poor little Gregory's face...

The movie then becomes more colorful, and we get to see the world of the mid-1990's. A curly-haired tot is playing a video game in a near-catatonic stupor, and only comes out of it when he hears the music of an ice cream truck approaching. The boy, named Roger, then takes money out of his mother's purse, and runs outside. This movie has only been playing for about a minute or so, and I'm already rooting for the killer. Hey, it beats rooting for the video-game zombie who steals from his mom to feed his gradual decline into diabetes!

As Roger runs to the ice cream truck, a warning on the back of the vehicle ominously declares, "Watch Out Children!" Cute touch. Roger asks for something called an orange push-up, and the demented-looking vendor holds it out to him, but keeps snatching it back at the last second. When Roger demands an explanation, the ice cream man tells him that he needs to say "please" to get the dessert. A kid behind him in line tells him to comply so that they can all get a turn.

When Roger finally moves on, we meet our main protagonists: there's Tuna, the large boy(who actually is just a thin kid who was forced to wear a fat suit, for some reason..); Johnny, a whiny kid who pisses off the vendor; Heather, the token female of the group; and a frail, bookworm-type nicknamed Small Paul. They call their group The Rocketeers. Yeesh.

Anyway, The Dorketeers(minus Small Paul, who is waiting at the park) pool their money together, and buy several frozen treats from crazy Greg, the Ice Cream Man. Then they run to a nearby park to play together. Whee! Oh, and before they arrive, Small Paul is reading The Pied Piper of Hamelin, while an elderly man is creeping up behind him, probably to show the boy his own pied pipe.

But just then, The  Dorketeers save the day. The old man hobbles away to  a safe distance, but still stares at the kids. Shouldn't somebody from Dateline be there to question him soon? Or just hire a background kid to distract him, so we can continue our movie?

Let's try to ignore the pedophile, and go back to the kids. Tuna has somehow dropped his ice cream into the sandbox, and he picks it up. He tries to wipe the sand off, then, to the horror of his friends, he decides to keep eating it anyway. Does this make Tuna a badass, or just a dumbass? I can't quite decide.

The kids come down off of the sugar high, and lie down on a carousel ride. As they spin around, they talk about the good and bad points of the legend of the Pied Piper, and the biggest sticking point appears to be the question of what he did with the kids after he captured them.

The creepy old man, who is revealed as the person spinning them, believes that the captured kids were eaten. Okay, so this town is like Ground Zero for doomed kids to meet psychopathic adults. Can we wall off the borders at least?

Gregory then sees Roger lining up for for ice cream, despite the fact that it's dark out now. The scene ends before anything happens, and we get more of the Dorketeers as they return to their homes.  Heather's house is the first one they arrive at, and we find out that her father, a minister, tries too hard to shelter her from the outside world. There's more kooky stuff going on inside that house, but let's leave that little revelation for later...

Gregory drives his truck home, and hauls something heavy out of it. In the middle of his effort, a loud dog rushes up, and is barking its annoying little head off. The ice cream man approaches the animal with a frozen dessert held out, then the scene cuts off. It's probably a DVD glitch...I seem to have problems when pausing then playing the movie again.

Anyway, the next scene shows Greg's neighbor, Ms. Wharton, sitting alone in her home. She hears a dog yelp, and worries that it might be hers, so she peeks out the window. Gregory pops up and scares her, and claims not to have heard her dog when she asks him about the sound. She even sees some blood on his face, but the kooky killer tastes it, and claims that it's just some ice cream flavoring from when he was putting things into storage. As soon as he leaves her, Gregory mangles and destroys the poor dog.

That sequence segues into dinner at Johnny's house. He rushes through the front door, and his sister's boyfriend, Jake, begins to pick on him for his choice of friends. Oh, and the sister is Janet, so we're going with a "J" theme in this family, I guess. Yay.

The phone disrupts Jake's insults, and we find out that that little runty Roger kid never went home that night. Johnny's mother forbids him from playing in the park anymore. And that's about it.

That night, Gregory has a nightmare about being back in the insane asylum. His doctor is dressed up as a circus clown, and both he and Nurse Wharton are offering Gregoryt ice cream. Yeah, that seems perfectly normal. When he wakes up, he's in Nurse Wharton's garden, surrounded by open ice cream containers. He quickly brushes himself off and leaves.

Jake strands the kids in the business district,then tells them to lie and tell their parents that he brought them to a movie. Instead they decide to head over to the office where Tuna's dad works. We discover that he gets some pretty nice ass when he's not working, then he kicks them out. Probably to return the call from his hot mistress.

2 detectives, Maldwyn and Gifford, approach the ice cream truck, and ask Gregory if he might have seen Roger, the missing boy. Then Maldwyn orders a cone of Rocky Road, and we see Gregory shove an eyeball into the ice cream as he prepares the cone. The cop eats it, completely oblivious, and we see the eye peeking out of his mouth while he chews. Remind me not to buy any Rocky Road in the forseeable future!

A huge line forms at the ice cream truck, and Wanda, the hot home-wrecker who was on the phone with Tuna's dad, pushes her way to the front of it. She asks Gregory to deliver some of his "hard pack" to her home, then repeats the address twice. Johnny and his friends order next, but keep changing their minds. Eventually, after annoying Gregory, they get their treats and leave...but not before we see a face buried under the ice cream in the truck. Who the heck was that?

At the end of the day, Gregory stops in front of Wanda's house. Then he has another flashback, and decides that it's not such a "happy day" after all. As Wanda watches, he starts his truck again and speeds away. She looks utterly baffled, even from a distance.

Heather gets into her house, and finds her mother in the middle of an exorcism. Literally, her mom is barking and writhing. Heather runs to her bedroom, even after her father begs her to stay and help him. Uhhh, did we just step into a completely different movie all of a sudden?

The other Dorketeers walk home as well, but the distant sound of the ice cream truck's song  gets Small Paul excited. He runs off, and leaves his friends far behind. When Small Paul finds the truck, he sees the ice cream man doing a weird dance to the song, and watches him for a brief moment.

Gregory realizes that he has an audience, and stops dancing. His demeanor frightens Small Paul, so he attempts to win the kid over by guessing his favorite ice cream flavor. When he succeeds, he admits that the flavor("Butter Brickle') is also his favorite. Great. Mine is Chocolate Marshmallow...can we get on with this now???

Gregory alludes to his time in the psych ward, by stating simply that he was "sick" when he was a child. Small Paul admits that he was too, which accounts for his runty appearance and the nickname. Gregory takes pity on the kid, and shows him the inside of the truck, but then a bloody instrument falls to the ground, and they both just gape at each other.

Some undetermined time after that,Tuna sees the truck. He hides in the bushes, but the ice cream man spots him. Gregory tells Tuna not to be afraid, because he's taking Small Paul to the hospital, but Tuna runs away. Gregory yells after him that he knows where the boy lives, and will get him.

While running in the woods, Tuna happens to find Roger hiding there as well. He was apparently afraid to return home, because of what the ice cream man might do to him and his family. Tuna offers to escort Roger to his house, but the younger boy is afraid to leave the woods.

Tuna arrives at his house, and finds his parents fighting. He does his best to tell them about Roger and the ice cream man, but neither one wants to stop the spat long enough to listen to him. He goes to his bedroom, and sees the ice cream man watching his house. In the morning, he finds an ice cream mess at the front door, along with his trashed sneakers, and a copy of The Pied Piper.

Tuna goes grocery shopping with his mother, and finds himself face to-face with Gregory at the frozen dairy aisle. They stare at each other, and the ice cream man almost seems to shrug him off, until he sees the clean shoes that the boy is wearing. At that point, they decide to have a chase scene in the store.

Tuna spots his mother by the suit she has on, and approaches her, but it's a different woman. Tuna then hides under a produce table, and climbs into the undercarriage of a shopping cart to get away. Gregory gets distracted by a woman asking him about which lipstick she should purchase, then loses track of his prey for a short bit.

Tuna seizes the opportunity to roll out from under his hiding spot, and the ice cream man sees him crawling away. The boy hides in the meat freezer, where a kindly butcher offers him assistance. Tuna's mother is brought to the meat department to retrieve her son. He breaks down and tells her everything.

The police are called, and they pay a visit to Gregory at the ice cream shop he operates out of. He's handed the search warrant by Maldwyn and Gifford, who question him outside while a couple of uniformed officers search inside the building. Maldwyn even comments that he hopes Gregory can make his business a success. And then, the vandalism begins.

After hearing glass breaking and other loud noises, Gregory rushes inside. He sees the 2 nameless cops trashing every square inch of his business, and breaking everything that they can. When they admit to finding no evidence of foul play, the 4 cops attempt to leave without saying another word to the distraught ice cream vendor.

Then Nurse Wharton shows up, and provides Gregory with an alibi. That doesn't seem to faze the detectives much, so Gregory threatens to seek legal action against the police department. Then they really do leave, and discuss looking deeper into Gregory's personal background for clues.

The ice cream man waits until he's alone, then reveals a trapdoor beneath the freezer. He pulls Small Paul out of the room there, and sits him next to a multi-bladed contraption designed to chop nuts. (Excuse me, while I cross my legs...) He hands Small Paul a dripping cone of Butter Brickle, and tells the boy that not every day can be a happy day. No kidding!

At church that Sunday, Heather's father delivers a sermon that bores the congregation to tears. After Mass, the Dorketeers see Roger and welcome him back home. One of them even offers him Small Paul's spot in their club, but he'll be grounded 'til he's 40, for the vanishing act he pulled.

The remaining Dorketeers go out on their bicycles that night, and follow Gregory to a graveyard. There, they watch as he approaches the headstone of the ice cream man who was killed in the first scene. Now, if I'm interpreting this scene correctly, that was Gregory's father, which is why he was so traumatized by the event, and why he became an ice cream man himself. It might also explain how a nurse became his legal guardian.

Anyway, He makes a massive ice cream cone, and has a "heated discussion" with the various ghosts around him, who only seem to exist in his head. Then he leaves, and we see that he has placed a variety of ice cream scoops around the grave, with the cone on the headstone. The Dorketeers barely manage to escape unseen when he makes his exit.

They hurry back to examine the ice cream grave closer. Then we see the ice cream man make another stop, and Heather and Johnny catch up to him once more. The bad news is, they have no idea where Tuna went, so they assume he couldn't keep up. Johnny goes back to find him, while Heather agrees to keep an eye on the truck.

When the ice cream man fails to reappear after a minute or so, Heather realizes that she might get a chance to find evidence pertaining to the recent disappearances in the ice cream truck. Armed with a camera, she opens up the back doors to climb in, and starts snapping pictures. I'm shocked that the cops never came up with a plan like this.

Tuna is found, and the boys ride quickly back to Heather's spot. She's opening up the freezer containing the hard pack ice cream, at about the same time that the boys are charging to the rescue. One of them sets off the rocket they packed, and it nearly makes the detectives doing surveillance work crap their pants.

The kids get shoved into the back of the police car, and attempt to present their case against the ice cream man. To calm them down, the detectives go to Heather's house to see if she really is missing. The minister checks her bed, and assumes that the shape under the blanket is her. It's some other kid, but at this point I'm giving up on any of the plot making sense.

Heather appears the next day at a camera shop, and asks the clerk to develop the pictures she took in the ice cream truck. He seems to be fairly inept, so she'll probably get the wrong pictures back. Heather and the remaining Dorketeers meet up at Johnny's house to try to scrounge up enough money to pay for the developed photographs.

When Jake arrives, he flips out that they used his camera without his permission. He takes the camera back, then also grabs the receipt for the pictures. Well kids, good luck with ever seeing what was on the camera! Jake doesn't come across as the charitable or gracious type.

Gregory is busy watching Wanda and Tuna's father getting kinky together, as he peers at them through a fence. Wanda spots him and gives the maniac a "come hither" look. That rattles Gregory, who suddenly ducks out of view. When Tuna's dad is heading back to his car, he sees Gregory's truck, and goes in for a closer view. Gregory lunges at him with a waffle iron, and mangles his face and body with burns.

The crazy vendor goes after Wanda next. He knocks at her front door, stands in her front hall, and promises a delivery. Wanda turns to have a look, and sees her lover's severed head on a gigantic waffle cone. She shrieks like a banshee, so Gregory slashes at her until she stops.

While the detectives make a plan to visit the asylum, Jake and Janet visit the camera shop to pick up the developed roll of film. They see some of the photos being displayed, and get very weirded out by the disturbing images.

Then we travel back to the ice cream shop, where Gregory shows Small Paul how he mixes and creates the various flavors.While he puts the boy in charge of mixing a vat of chocolate, the killer moves to a different barrel. Using a bowl as a sifter, he finds several items that belonged to his victims: jewelry, fillings, and other random items. He piles them together to examine later.

While our Dorketeers wait for Jake to return with the pictures, the detectives pay an evening visit to the mental hospital. They meet Mr. "Happy, Happy, Happy Days" himself, and he offers them a tour of the place. You guys might want to call in the National Guard first. Oh wait, I forgot how dumb these guys are, eating eyeballs and all.

So anyway, the "doctor" vanishes through a door, and they follow him. Beyond that threshold, there are apparently no rules: patients roam the halls in large groups, no staff members are around, and the detectives definitely lose their cool. Oh, and most of the hallways are dimly lit, making them hard to navigate, even without crazed mental patients shuffling around.

The crazy, zombie-like patients follow and surround he cops as they try to exit the facility. They get split up in the dark, and both draw their guns. Heck, Detective Gifford even fires his several times! Detective Maldwyn eventually just starts punching his way through the crazies. He meets back up with Detective Gifford at the car, and they quickly radio in for reinforcements to re-take the hospital, before they speed away themselves.

Back to the 3 Dorketeers. As they ride their bikes home, Gregory tries to run them down. Most of them speed away, but Tuna gets snatched right off of his bike, then shoved into a cooler in the back of the truck.Yum, frozen fish!

The last of our Dorketeers, Johnny and Heather, seek help from Jacob and Janet. Since Jacob is a violent police cadet with a gun fetish, it's inevitable that they agree to rescue the world's least tasty Tuna.The plan is for Janet and the kids to wait in the car, while Johnny goes into vigilante mode on the ice cream man. Or would that be "vigilante a la mode"?

Small Paul, meanwhile, is busy being brainwashed by Gregory. I guess that explains how Jacob was able to drive into Gregory's lair without being noticed. When Gregory does hear Jacob, he has Small Paul hide in the compartment beneath the freezer. Then he goes after the cop-in-training, watching Jacob from the shadows.

Outside in the car, Janet and the kids fret over the fact that Jacob hasn't returned yet. Then he comes out to the car, only to reveal that he's actually the ice cream man, wearing Jacob's clothes. Gregory stabs Janet under her chin and cracks a joke about "brain freeze", but the violence is so heavily cut, I can't even be sure of the weapon that was used. Anyway, the kids escape, and there's the 100th chase scene. Small Paul watches from a tiny window, and seems to be rooting for the killer.

Johnny and Heather find a police car in front of Nurse Wharton's home, but neither of the anonymous cops are around, so the children quickly hide in the yard. Then Gregory holds up both of the officers' severed heads on sticks, and does a "puppet show", just to frighten the kids even more than they already were. They run away again, and Gregory stops to chat with his puppets, until they annoy him.

While Gregory stalk his prey, Nurse Wharton opens her door, demanding to know why there's so much screaming. He tells her that he and some of the neighborhood children are involved in a game of hide and seek. Despite his blood-soaked uniform, the crazy retired nurse buys his story. Yeah, of course she does. Ever get the feeling that, if the characters in slasher movies did things that made sense, each movie would last about 30 minutes?

Soon after, the kids arrive at her door, begging for help. She lets them in, but snickers as she closes the door.  Our intrepid detectives, Maldwyn and Gifford, hear a report on the police band about missing children, and decide to pay the ice cream man another visit. As Gregory threatens to harm Tuna, the detectives arrive, with guns drawn. Gregory closes the ice cream truck, and the cops watch as he shoves scoops of ice cream down Tuna's throat.

When Gregory and his hostage vanish from the window, the detectives demand proof tha6 Tuna is safe. Gregory opens the door to shove the boy out of the truck, then uses the distraction to climb onto the roof of the vehicle. Armed with 2 large scoops, he leaps behind the detectives, knocking them both out with the metal scoops.

As Small Paul sets up a trap to save his friends, Nurse Wharton hands the other 2 children over to Gregory. Then Gregory is lured into the ice cream shop by Small Paul, who is shining a flashlight on a picture of the original ice cream man. Gregory is brought to the chopping machine, as more psycho ward flashbacks are shown, and he eventually is pushed into the blades and chopped up. Then the kids are rescued, and Nurse Wharton wants to know if the cops ever found her dog.

At some later point, Tuna, Johnny and Heather make Roger a Dorketeer in their club. When Roger asks them where Small Paul is, they say that he's in therapy. The final scene depicts Small Paul in a dark room, mixing ice cream. Then he turns to the camera and smiles. THE END

PHEW! Sorry about posting this one a week late, it's been a stressful time. I just had another surgery, and I haven't had the time to watch this one until today. Anyway, it's here, so I can hopefully get back into a regular routine again. This one was pretty wacky, so it gets 3.5 killer trees out of 5 from me.

And what did I learn from this week's movie?

-Eyeballs taste like ice cream!

-Jan Michael Vincent has 1 expression.

-Severed heads are fun toys!

My next film to watch is Doom Asylum...Sorry this one is so late, but I had surgery, and have been sleeping a lot more than I'm used to. I hope I can get some "me time" again, so I can keep up with these movies better. Until then, I'm sorry about the delays. See you soon.