Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Television Review: MASTERS OF HORROR––"WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM" (2007, Tom Holland)

Stars: 2.5 of 5.
Running Time: 57 minutes.
Tag-line: "I scream... you scream..."
Notable Cast or Crew: Based on a short story by John Farris (THE FURY).  Starring Lee Tergesen (WAYNE'S WORLD, OZ, GENERATION KILL), Willliam Forsythe (CLOAK AND DAGGER, EXTREME PREJUDICE, THE ROCK), Quinn Lord (TRICK 'R TREAT, Joe Dante's THE HOLE), Ingrid Tesch (REPLICANT, MVP: MOST VALUABLE PRIMATE), Colin Cunningham (BEST IN SHOW, THE SIXTH DAY), and Brett Kelly (BAD SANTA, TRICK 'R TREAT).  Executive produced by Mick Garris (THE SHINING '97, THE STAND '94).  Special makeup effects by Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger (DAY OF THE DEAD, ARMY OF DARKNESS, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN).  Directed by Tom Holland (FRIGHT NIGHT, FATAL BEAUTY, CHILD'S PLAY).
Best One-liner: "It's time for dessert... just dessert!"

 In a familiar, darkened alleyway:

"Heya, bud."
–"What're we watching now?"
–"Oh, come on, I thought we were done with these."
"We're not done till I say we're done.  Come on, they're not all bad."
–"But now we're in the dregs.  We're in the dregs, man."
"Is Tom Holland the dregs?  Tom 'CHILD'S PLAY' Holland?  Tom 'FRIGHT NIGHT' Holland?"
–"Well... no.  But MASTERS OF HORROR doesn't really have the best track record.  I mean, Mick Garris is calling the shots."
"Yeah, but there's been some pretty good ones.  John Carpenter's CIGARETTE BURNS, Lucky McKee's SICK GIRL, John Landis' FAMILY...  plus, it finally brought together Dario Argento and Steven Weber under the same freaky flag!"
–"Okay, okay.  So how's WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM?"
"Erm... not too good."
–"Then why are we doing this?"
"Because we're completists, goddamit!  And because it's Halloween."
–"Fine.  So what's it about?"
"It's based on a short story by John Farris, but the shadow of Stephen King looms pretty large over this one.  Holland is no stranger to King, either– he adapted THE LANGOLIERS and THINNER, and is currently in pre-production on THE TEN O'CLOCK PEOPLE.  Anyway, the plot goes like this: nearly thirty years ago, a group of kids were involved in a traumatic event involving a clown.  Today, the last of the children returns home to his small town where the clown may or may not be back, attacking them one by one.  Did I mention that there's stuttering and vintage bullies as well?"
Vintage bullies.  Pretty frightening.  The one on the left is pretending to smoke, and yes, the one on the right is the kid from BAD SANTA.

"Does any of this sound familiar to you?"
–"Uh... it's IT."
"Exactly.  And as our lead, they've cast Lee Tergesen, who definitely reminds me of Richard Thomas, the actor who played 'Stuttering Bill' in the 1990 miniseries of IT."

 Richard Thomas in IT.


 –"Well isn't that something?"
"Yeah.  Plus, CHRISTINE even shows up."

"Unfortunately, all the Stephen King references in the world can't make this a great movie.  But it's still somewhat decent because of the killer clown."
–"Isn't that 'Killer Klown'?"
"Not in this instance."
 –"Wait... don't tell me... Tim Curry?"
"Nah, but nearly as good:  unhinged character actor extraordinaire William Forsythe.  He worked on a Tom Holland script previously, the dark 80s kiddie spy thriller CLOAK AND DAGGER.  But you may know him better for smokin' crack and scarin' Seagal in OUT FOR JUSTICE, stabbin' rats and killin' things in EXTREME PREJUDICE, or smackin' nuts and shootin' beer cans with an Uzi in STONE COLD."

–"Hot damn!"
"And that picture above is when he's the living, 'nice guy' clown.  See, Forsythe is so good, he can fluently deliver tear-jerkin' pathos or petrifyin' sadism– or, if need be, a combination of the two.  At first, he plays 'Buster the Friendly Clown'– a mentally disabled, ice cream truck-drivin' friend to children.  He's legitimately likable.  You'd trust your kids with this guy.  Theoretically.  Later, when he's 'Buster the Undead Revenge-Seeking Monster,' not so much.

"Yeah, Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero do a pretty good job with this one.  Elsewhere, people melt down like ice cream, and the effect is convincing:

 it reminds me of something out of FRIGHT NIGHT or EVIL DEAD.  But they must have run out of money along the way because what should be the show-stopping final effect is instead some pretty lazy CGI."
–"That's too bad."
–"Anything else?"
"Yeah, sure.  Like the horror classic HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, which incessantly plays a version of 'London Bridge is Falling Down' with the lyrics 'X more days to Hallo-ween, Hallo-ween, Hallo-ween...' etc., WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM repeats the eponymous song (in William Forsythe's creepy, a cappella drawl) over and over and over again."
–"Hey, I like HALLOWEEN III.  Don't you like it?" 
"No.  I love it.  But that's beside the point.  By the fiftieth time I heard "I scream, you scream, we all scream..." etc., I started wondering if I was wrong about the Stephen King pastiche."
–"Whaddya mean?"
"Since it was Tommy Lee Wallace who did the adaptation of IT and who directed HALLOWEEN III, and who did FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2, the sequel to the Tom Holland original, what if this thing is the world's first Tommy Lee Wallace pastiche?"
–"That's ridiculous."
"Yeah, you're right.  Two and a half stars."

–Sean Gill



Mike Bradley said...

Aw c'mon, this thing is a solid 3 out of 5 at least! OK maybe not, but still, I remember how some of the foggy scenes around the house had that nifty Holland look, and hey, how about that weird out-of-nowhere hillbilly bathtub scene! But yeah, it's really juuuuuust good enough to watch one time.

Daniel Wallin said...

What did you think of the episode "Imprint"?

Sean Gill said...


Haha, oh yes, the hillbilly bathtub. I'm guessing it was a contrivance so that they could easily reset the melting effect between takes, but it is hilariously out of nowhere.


I liked IMPRINT, but didn't quite love it. Billy Drago is the man, and I can't think of a better actor to carry Miike's American debut. I think it was unfairly censored by Showtime (Argento's PELTS from season 2 is essentially as graphic), but I feel about it like I do a lot of Miikes (say, films like GOZU and VISITOR Q), where it's horrific and well-done, but so grotesque I generally don't need to revisit them. When his material's more fun and humane (THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS or DEAD OR ALIVE 2: BIRDS) I tend to like 'em more. Still, Miike sure knows how to spin a cruel yarn!