Ugly Brothers, Cannibal Ice Cream, and Lee Majors II (Need I say more?)

When I was growing up as a young Bug, my dad, The Big Bug, taught me everything I would need to know to make it in life. He taught me how to get a deal, how to differentiate between a 55-58 Chevy, how to clean and grade a Record album. He also imparted his wisdom to me. Things like never letting on when you're getting a deal, that the best neighbor is one you only have to wave to, and that for ever good looking Hollywood star there's always an ugly brother. This last nugget of wisdom has always held true. You have Dennis Quaid....and Randy. Alec Baldwin and well all the other Baldwins. Matt Dillon and Kevin Dillon. Sly Stallone and Frank Stallone. Hmmm, OK that last one might not be the best example, but perhaps the best example exists in tonight's film. 

Ron Howard was pure innocence in The Andy Griffith Show. Then he was the leading man in 1970's American International classics Eat My Dust and Grand Theft Auto. Sure now he might be a balding director who hides his chrome dome under an array of baseball hats, but even now he's Cary Grant compared to his brother, tonights star, Clint Howard.

Ice Cream Man (1995) starring Clint Howard, Justin Isfield, Lee Majors II, and Jan Michael Vincent. Directed by Paul Norman.

Gregory was a normal little boy. The kind that runs out to the street when he hears the happy sounds of the Ice Cream truck, and all was well in his world. That is until the Ice Cream Man he idolized was gunned down right before his eyes. Poor Gregory went around the bend and got sent off to Wishing Wells mental hospital, but he's all better,  back on the street, and ready to sell frozen treats too all the little kiddies. Yes, Gregory is the new Ice Cream Man (Howard), and he's got some secret recipes that people love. 

Luckily for the gang of kids that, for no apparent reason, call themselves the Rocketeers; they mostly stick to prepackaged treats, but they can tell something is fishy with Gregory. Is he fishy? Not really, doggy is more like it. The Ice Cream Man has churned up one of man's best friends for his chilled creations, and from the looks of some of his other vats, perhaps there's been some people in there as well. When a neighborhood kid goes missing, two cops,Jan Michael Vincent and Lee Majors II (who knew there was a sequel?), get on the case, but seem more interested in getting a cone than a clue. When one of the Rocketeers is kidnapped and perhaps murdered, the kids know what they have to do and leap into action all Goonies style to put a stop to the Ice Cream Man and his gory gelato. 

Director Paul Norman (actually working under the name Norman Apstien on this one) has helmed over one hundred films which seems like a lot until you realize most of them have titles like Intercourse With a Vampire and Edward Penishands. So yeah, the direction of this film holds true to the high standards set by the porn industry. Strangely enough though it seems to strive to be a kiddy thriller along the lines of Monster Squad or the Goonies, but while I think that parents might feel the gore a bit over the top for preteen boys, I can speak from experience that a kid that age into horror would probably find it quite weak. 

However, the silly plot and the half ass menacing portrayal of Gregory by Clint Howard are somehow endearing. It feels like the lost film that I almost would have liked when I was 12. I can only imagine how excited I would have been back then to see a cameo by Doug Llewelyn. (The People's Court was the bomb back in the classic Judge Wapner era.), but while the movie felt like the eighties, it was made 5 years after too late. I suppose perhaps it was made to appeal to the Goosebumps set who were ready for something harder than R.L. Stein could provide.

It was also interesting to learn that Converse shoes had partially sponsored the film. I was wondering why there were so many shots of Chuck Taylor's throughout, but as a Converse fan myself, I had chalked it up to the characters enjoying quality comfortable footwear. (Hear that Converse? Thats a free plug. If you want another send 20 pairs of Size 10's to The Lightning Bug C/O The Moon. Earth Orbit, Space) 

So if you're looking for a film that might be a blast from the past that you never had, then check it out. Or if you're like me, and pretty much always like to see anything with Clint Howard in it, then it's worth your 90 minutes. 

Bug Rating


  1. Ice Cream Man is awesome!! And I'm not sure who is the studly one and who is the ugly one between Frank and Sylvester either.

  2. I've put a lot of thought into it and come to the conclusion that it needs to be settled in the only way that woud be fair. Armwestling. Over The Top, Word!


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