Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972)
I believed in Santa Claus until I nearly ten years old. Yes, laugh away. I was a moron who steadfastly believed an obese diabetic broke into my house once a year and left a bunch of plastic doo-dads under my Christmas tree. It’s no wonder my father viewed me as a disappointment. What parent wouldn’t distance themselves from a child who still buys into supernatural nonsense and is nearing double-digit age? I was a daggum knucklehead.
If I had seen Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny as a wee one, my belief might have come to an earlier end. Nothing will kill a child’s love of Santa more than watching some pill popper put on the red outfit and pretend to be stuck on a Florida beach. To quote Joel Hodgson, “Every frame of this film looks like someone’s last known photograph.” Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (hereafter known as SICB) is what I picture a kiddie diddler dreaming about during the holidays. It’s a paradise of parentless children and too, too friendly adults, all really into being around the young ones and teaching them lessons.
Right off the bat we are forced to watch some ugly kids dressed as elves make toys in Santa’s workshop and sing a garbled song about their owner not being around. What sounds like a drunken Carol Channing starts narrating, explaining that the fat man’s sleigh is trapped in the sands of Florida. The reindeer, being the assholes they usually are, have left Santa behind, flying their jerkoff selves back to the North Pole. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have pulled really, really hard and freed Santa. It is just sand. It’s not like the ground in Florida swallows things up – just ask Casey Anthony. One good tug and Santa would be loose.
But the reindeer are gone, and Santa sits in the sun like a dildo, wondering why he’s so goddamn hot. He could stand in the shady woods nearby, but Santa’s in an Oxycontin daze – I’m sure his head is full of flowers. Santa begins singing a song, bemoaning his predicament. He keeps talking about how he’s looking for someone to help him, yet the bag of dicks never leaves his sleigh. Instead, he pantomimes and wiggles around while not carrying a tune.
Santa next calls a bunch of local kids to come to his aid. We get a montage of more ugly children playing in various parts of their neighborhood and Santa yells out their names. His voice has an Echoplex effect on it, meaning the whole call and response sounds like some hippie’s wacked-out daydream. The ugly children arrive and Santa explains what happened. Drunken Carol Channing has ceased her narration, so the audience has to hear this convoluted garbage story again.
Oh, and Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn show up on a raft. No bullshit. They spot the children running to Santa and decide they want in on the action, too. As they row ashore, a bunch of offscreen people play “Old Man River” on kazoos. Tom and Huck won’t directly affect the story – they mostly hide in the bushes and watch Santa sweet talk the neighborhood kids.
Santa explains to the children that he was on a naughty-nice run, spying on kids and deciding who gets toys and who gets rooked. He also explains that he can’t take a plane back to the North Pole for such-and-such reason – it makes no sense. So the ugly children commiserate, desperately trying to fire synapses in their inbred brains, hoping to figure out a way to free Santa from his sandy prison. One kid brings back a gorilla. Actually, it’s a pederast in a gorilla costume, but the audience gets the point. The guy in the gorilla suit can’t do shit with the sleigh and wanders off the screen, possibly either aroused by the children or humiliated that his big break amounted to this. Two different kids bring a donkey; another couple of bright bulbs brings a squealing pig; a dopey girl drags a sheep to the sleigh. Santa actually drags his fat ass off the seat to muck around with the sheep. A lonely boy wanders up with a cow, and him and Santa act surprise that a heifer won’t magically transport the sleigh. Finally, some malformed child with a horse arrives. Of course, the horse fails, mirroring the ambitions of the film’s creative team.
Santa tries digging up the sand itself, but gives up after the fifth scoop. The ugly children return, and Santa decides to tell them the story of Thumbelina…because she never gave up on her dreams…which is comparable to Santa’s predicament…I suppose. Now, I hope you aren’t too invested in the Florida sleigh fiasco, ‘cause Santa and the kids vanish for nearly an hour. The audience is stuck watching a rotten version of Thumbelina. Elementary plays are better produced.
We see a really cute chick wandering through Pirate’s World, a now-defunct theme park in Florida. The chick has some great legs on her, which is a pleasant respite from the parade of gorked out children we’ve been forced to endure. For you perverts out there, the actress, Shay Garner, apparently played the mother of the creature in Humongous. She’s naked at the beginning of that film, though it’s during a really horrific rape. I’m sure that won’t stop some of you sickos from pulling the pud. Here, the chick takes in the sights, smells, and sounds of the park before entering what appears to be some shed. Her and a couple of other lost souls lollygag around a table that displays dioramas. Remember when your fourth grade teacher wanted you to take a shoebox and build a model of the first Thanksgiving? Yeah, that’s what this theme park is trying to pass off as entertainment. The dioramas tell Thumbelina’s tale, and boozy Carol Channing returns to narrate.
I’m not going to detail the Thumbelina segment. Most everyone knows the story, and those who don’t can turn to Wikipedia to enlighten them. Suffice it to say, the production is just as dreadful as the Santa portion. The hot chick from the theme park plays Thumbelina, sings and dances on cheap sets, and almost marries a mole. Then she leaves and marries some hunky dude that is a similar size. The end. What Thumbelina does is pad out the running time, and this is where modern audiences realize SICB was supposed to be one of those time killer movies mall cinemas would play in the seventies and eighties -- Mom could throw the kids in the theater and shop at Lazarus or J.C. Pennys in peace and quiet. It didn’t matter that a movie like SICB was literally capable of draining away a child’s imagination. If the parental unit could spend their paychecks without the yammering of their accidental offspring, then so be it.
Thumbelina ends, and the audience go back to the Florida beach. Santa tries to hide his lousy story behind the veil of morality, insisting to the little shits that they learned something. There’s more yakking about what could possibly be done when a fire truck alarm starts going off. The ugly children, who vanished in the blink of a film splice, return to the beach with the Ice Cream Bunny. Why not the Easter Bunny, I’m not sure. It would make more sense – the two figures are united by holidays. The only thing I can guess is that the Ice Cream Bunny was a mascot at Pirate’s World, and the filmmakers had access to the costume.
So we get a long, long sequence of the Ice Cream Bunny driving this fire truck. There’s one unbroken shot that shows the truck coming down a dirt road for what feels like an eternity. The ugly children are hanging off the sides, the guy in the Ice Cream Bunny suit can barely see, a dog belonging to one of the children all most gets run over by the truck, and all the audience can do is count down the minutes until this nightmare ends. The whole shot is terrifying to watch – the dirt road is filled with giant rocks, there’s a huge puddle up ahead, the shocks on the fire truck are for shit, so kids are nearly getting thrown off the big bastard, and the Ice Cream Bunny has to slam on the brakes to keep from crushing the asshole dog. When he stops suddenly, the collective of children are practically thrown forward. Because it has that grainy, 70s look, it feels like we’re this close to seeing some bit of graphic violence or bloodshed. Life was cheap in the 70s.
When the Bunny reaches Santa, the bearded creep leans into the Bunny’s face and thanks him saving his ass. The bizarre creature reveals it can’t speak, only able to nod his head and wink one forever-judging eye. Santa then thanks the dog the Bunny all most killed. I guess him and the Bunny hang out in the same bars, so the hound knew where to find him. We get an odd shot of the dog barking into the camera. Then Santa and the Bunny hop in the fire truck and take off.
Now, earlier when one of the hellions asked Santa why he couldn’t take a plane back to the North Pole, he brushed it off, like the kid was a cocksucker for asking. So why is a fire truck copasetic? It’s four days before Christmas, you’re butt hurt about getting back home on time, so you take a fire truck driven by a figment of John Wayne Gacy’s mind? Further insulting the intelligence of everyone, the goddamn sleigh disappears when the truck leaves. Santa made it vanish back to the North Pole. Well, why in the fuck didn’t he do that before? Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, having done nothing in the film, look at each other in shock. Ersatz Carol Channing speaks up and tells us the sleigh was waiting for Santa when he got home. A card comes up, saying ‘Merry Christmas,’ and the movie just stops.
SICB is the film equivalent of being stuck at your weird grandpa’s house for the holidays. There are chunks of Red Man chew in the carpet and the decorations are water damaged. Grandpa’s chubby young nurse keeps making jokes about his “Yule log” while you try to stare straight ahead at the television and hope A Charlie Brown Christmas will blot out the cold, sticky memories of this particular celebration of Baby Jesus. It’s all too sad and too painful and does nothing but remind you that your Citalopram prescription is running low. Then again, what could be expected from a film that was birthed by America’s dong, the sunny terror known as Florida?
- Jason Christopher
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