Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972)
Article 5470 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Barry Mahon and R. Winer
Featuring Jay Ripley, Dorothy Brown Green, Charlie
What it is: Do your children really deserve this?
Santa is stranded with his sleigh on a shore of the Florida coastline. Kids try to help him. Will they succeed? And what story will Santa tell them?
After having made the blanket statement that MAGIC LAND OF MOTHER GOOSE was the worst movie ever made, I now find I have to contend with this little atrocity. I’ll stand by my statement for now, though I’ll cover a few salient points as to why I made this decision. GOOSE has far and away the better rating on IMDB (3.1 to this one’s 1.3), but I suspect some of that may be because Herschell Gordon Lewis has more of a cult following than either R. Winer or Barry Mahon (and they may be the same person, as far as I know). In this movie’s favor, there is at least some effort made to give us a variety of camera angles and locations. Furthermore, this movie at least makes a cursory attempt to tell some type of story (especially during the “movie within a movie”). On the downside, the acting and the singing is far worse in the framing part of this movie, both in comparison to GOOSE as well as in opposition to the “movie within a movie”, where the acting is a bit better and the singing is a LOT better. Still, I consider GOOSE to be the much lazier movie when all things are considered.
And now let’s discuss the movie’s dirty secret; only about a third of the movie is any way new. Basically, an earlier children’s movie was bracketed with new footage featuring Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny, twenty minutes at the beginning and about ten minutes at the end. So the lion’s share of this movie is the old movie, which is what I’ve been referring to as the “movie within a movie”. And, which old movie, you might ask? That depends on which version of the movie you see. Most prints appear to have THUMBELINA from 1970 as the old movie, but the print I saw today used JACK AND THE BEANSTALK from 1970. Neither movie is very good, but in terms of storytelling, they’re both relatively coherent. And I will give the JACK AND THE BEANSTALK section one piece of credit; they actually try to give us a real giant rather than just a really tall man. That’s not to say the special effects are convincing; I’m just glad they took the effort.
Still, let’s face facts. This movie, like GOOSE, is almost unwatchable. In fact, I don’t think most people will make it through the opening song by the elves; and I will gladly proclaim this moment to be the single worst musical moment in the history of cinema.