Despite the talent roster assigned to this installment of Masters Of Horror - Tom Holland (the man who directed Fright Night and Child's Play, David J. Schow (the man who wrote two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films and The Crow, and William Forsythe (of The Devil's Rejects) - We All Scream For Ice Cream unfortunately smells of wasted potential.
Forsythe plays Buster, an ice cream man in a clown costume who was killed in a freak accident when a kid's prank went horribly wrong years ago. One night, he returns from the grave in full clown make up to get revenge against the kids who let him die. Of course, these kids are now all grown up and have children of their own and it's on these children that Buster sets his sights. He tracks down these kids, many of whom have taken to standing around the streets at night and acting rather odd, and gives them ice cream cones which, when they're eaten, cause the kids' fathers to melt into piles of goop. Layne (Lee Tergesen), one of the kids who has now grown up, decides to try and stop Buster from wiping those involved off the face of the planet but he's on Buster's list too and it won't be easy to prevent the demonic clown from wreaking havoc.
The plot synopsis makes the film sound more than a little goofy, and unfortunately that's exactly the case here. Granted, Forsythe is really good as Buster the demented ghost clown but come on... how can we take this seriously? The plot is simply ridiculous. Granted, clowns are often quite frightening and the make up job done on Forsythe's weathered face is definitely very effective and obviously horror films aren't always the most realistic efforts but a ghost clown? He even drives around in a spooky ice cream truck and is often times shrouded in fog and smoke and shadows just to emphasize how evil he is. Sadly, this movie is really corny.
Forsythe, however, and some of the effects set pieces are enough to make We All Scream For Ice Cream worth a look. It's not likely you're going to want to watch it more than once but a single viewing to check out some of the interesting effects work that takes place during the wonderfully gooey melting scenes isn't completely unwarranted and Forsythe really does throw himself into the role with a lot of manic enthusiasm. A shame then that the film relies so heavily on clichés and predictable plot devices. The film also gets repetitive in spots, which is sad considering that it's only an hour long. We don't need to see Buster's spooky ghost truck cruising through the night two zillion times, once or twice would be enough.
Where the film shines, however, is in its look. The movie has a very interesting color scheme that gives certain scenes an interesting candy coated look and feel that suits the basic premise nicely. Shadows are used effectively and the compositions are well planned out and carefully shot. A shame then that the movie feels more like a cheesy morality play than an actual horror movie. Had more thought been put into Buster's motivation and his methods and less emphasis been put on the right or wrong of the situation things maybe could have been more interesting but as it stands this is a visually impressive film with a solid lead performance and good effects that really doesn't go anywhere.
We All Scream For Ice Cream is, like every episode in the series so far, presented in an anamorphic 1.78.1 widescreen transfer. For the most part, things look pretty good on this disc. There are some mild compression artifacts present here and there in the darker scenes, but aside from that the image is decent. Color reproduction looks accurate and at times quite bold while flesh tones look lifelike and natural. There is a pretty solid level of both foreground and background detail present through the majority of the movie. Like the rest of the second season discs, this is not a flawless transfer, but it is a very good one.
Audio options are available in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound or in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, both in the movie's native English language. As expected, the 5.1 track beats the 2.0 track with superior atmosphere and more interesting directional effects particularly during the scenes in the basement. Either way, even if you opt for the scaled down 2.0 mix, you'll likely be quite pleased. Dialogue is clean and clear, the instrumental score sounds great, and there are no problems with hiss or distortion. Levels all appear to be in check and there's really very little to complain about here.
The most substantial supplement on the disc is a commentary track from director Tom Holland and writer David Schow. What's interesting about this track isn't so much the history of the production as we see it but that it's a glimpse at what could have been. Neither contributor seems particularly enthusiastic about the finished version of the movie but where Holland has some nice things to say about the look of the film you can tell that Schow in particular was not at all happy with what was done to his script. Either way, hearing about different approaches that could have made this material stronger makes for an interesting listen and while the two men obviously get along with one another well enough, we're really getting two somewhat different takes on the movie with this track.
Sweet Revenge is a ten-minute featurette that documents the making of We All Scream For Ice Cream by way of some interviews with Forsythe (still wearing some of his creepy clown make-up) and some clips from the production. Oddly enough, Forsythe says he was once employed as an ice cream truck driver and as a clown who performed at kids' parties - weird! A second featurette entitled Melt Down - The Scoop On Visual Effects is a segment where SFX man Lee Wilson discusses the use of computer generated and organic effects work in the film. Howard Berger shows up and demonstrates how the highlight set piece from the film was created. Both segments are short and not nearly as in-depth as some of the previous MOH supplements have been, but they're both worth checking out.
Rounding out the extra features is a brief biography of Tom Holland, a still gallery of behind the scenes photographs, trailers for other episodes of Masters Of Horror, the movie's script in PDF format for those who happen to be DVD-Rom equipped, animated menus and chapter stops. There's an insert inside the case which features the cover art on one side and the chapter listing on the other, and the keepcase fits inside a slick cardboard slipcase that features identical cover art.
While Anchor Bay has done their typically strong job on the disc, Masters Of Horror: We All Scream For Ice Cream isn't really worth watching more than once. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's mediocre. Definitely worth a rental for a few shining moments.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.