Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972) (part 1 of 11)
Well, it’s been several months since I started running this site, and with the holidays fast approaching, I got to thinking that it’s high time I wrote a recap for all our younger readers out there. So here we have it, the Agony Booth’s first children’s film!
Unfortunately, kids, the charter of this website requires that this be a terrible children’s film. If you come across this movie at your local video store, you can rest assured that its only purpose in being there is to prop up the rest of the videos on the shelf. If you pick it up, don’t be surprised if the rest of the row suddenly comes crashing down on your head.
At the store where I found my copy, it was past the beaded curtains and the swinging saloon doors, in that same tiny, red-walled room where they keep all the porn. That should give you a indication of how embarrassing it is to be seen renting this movie.
Like most other terrible children’s films, the filmmakers seem to think that simply because the movie is for kids, they have to pretend like they’re making it for retards. Every actor speaks as slowly as possible, enunciating every word as if they’re talking to people who don’t speak English. All the characters take longer than George W. Bush to string a sentence together, and deliver the most obvious emoting you’ll see outside of a Sally Struthers infomercial.
Posters for this movie reveal that is was meant specifically to be a Saturday and Sunday afternoon matinee only. That should make its reason for existence clear. Most likely, it only played at shopping mall cinemas, and was meant to give parents somewhere to drop off the kids for an hour or two while shopping for their Christmas presents. Of course, after seeing this movie, all those kids ended up wanting for Christmas was some serious psychotherapy. Perhaps the only positive thing that can be said about Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is that its target audience is much too young to remember it once it’s over.
The film opens in a really low budget elfin workshop set, and it’s the same kind of set you might see slapped together for a elementary school play. Appropriately, they’ve dressed up some little kids and pre-teens to play the part of Santa’s elves.
The elves are singing songs while they work, with lyrics that attest to how happy they are to be slaving away in Santa’s sweatshop. According to the song, they’re “happy little elves” who “work all day long”. The song doesn’t mention how they earn two cents an hour and work sixteen hours a day, but I’m sure they’re quite happy about that, too. (After all, there are no child labor laws up at the North Pole, are there?)
In front of an endless, static shot of them all standing behind a table, we see the title fade into view, and the credit immediately following this informs us that the film features “Kids” from Ruth Foreman’s Pied Piper Playhouse. Yes, that’s right, they put meaningless quotes around “Kids”, much the same way Hal Warren pointlessly put quotes around ”Manos”. Anyway, in case you can’t figure it out, the “Kids” are the ones playing the elves here.
The elves continue singing, and their song lets us know that they’re making “happy toys for the girls and boys”. The toys may be happy, but the girls and boys definitely won’t be. The credits then warn us that “Santa’s Song” is by “B. Martin”. Once you hear “Santa’s Song”, you’ll understand why B. Martin didn’t want to be identified by his or her full name.
We next learn that there’s no “directed by” credit to be found, and instead, the credit simply says, “Film by R. Winer”. Presumably, this movie was also brought to us by the producing team of Diner and Sixtyniner.
Strangely, the “Film by” credit isn’t even the last one [?]. As the elves go into a unending chorus of “tra-la-la-la”s we learn that the “Thumbelina Insert” is by “B. Mahon”. This is none other than Barry Mahon, who, in addition to several other kiddy pictures, also directed the commie scare flick Rocket Attack U.S.A. [!]. But he’s probably best known for making a series of nudie cuties [!!] with titles like The Beast That Killed Women, Sex Club International and Fanny Hill Meets Lady Chatterley. But, hey, don’t hold that against him. Every director in Florida made nudie cuties at one point or another. I think there was some kind of law.
The sweatshop elves sing, “Tra la la la la, where is Santa Claus? Tra la la la la, Santa isn’t here.” Then we see one of the elves vigorously petting a Snoopy doll. Look, just make the toys, lazybones, don’t play with them. Actually, to tell you the truth, the elves are spending a lot more time playing with the toys here than actually making them. I guess when Santa’s not around, it’s primo slacking off time up at the North Pole.
We even see one little blonde girl hold a Raggedy Ann doll and kiss it [!!]. Wow, I’m sure the kid who eventually gets this for Christmas is really going to appreciate how it’s been pre-saliva stained. The little blonde girl then turns towards the camera and AHHH! AHHHH! No, it can’t be! It can’t be!
One of the elves is actually being played by Kim Nicholas, who also played Tina Moy (one of the most irritating movie characters ever) in Impulse with William Shatner, meaning she’s now the Agony Booth’s second Repeat Offender. The funny part is, her name isn’t even listed in the credits; I just happened to recognize her. But given that both movies were filmed in central Florida in the early 70’s, it really doesn’t come as that much of a surprise.
Anyway, the elves continue singing, and by this point I gave up trying to make out the lyrics. The fact that aren’t even trying to sing it in sync is really not helping. They sing something about somebody being at the door, and right on cue, we hear a knock. (Actually, the knock is barely audible, and sounds more like somebody accidentally bumping into something off screen. Sadly, we will actually see that happen for real a little later on in the movie.)
Kim goes to answer the door, but loses her joyful expression as she glances outside. We cut to her (supposed) POV and, hilariously, it’s actually stock footage of reindeer grazing. Even more ridiculous is that said reindeer are grazing on green hills [!]. Um, aren’t they supposed to be at the North Pole here? Is there really this much lush vegetation up there?
Kim turns to the other elves, and in a really poorly overdubbed bit of dialogue, she tells them that the reindeer are there, “Donner and Blitzen, and all the rest! But Santa isn’t there!” All the rest? You know, if I were Dasher or Prancer, I’d be pissed right now.
Deflated, Kim goes back to her work table, or should I say, goof-off table, and all the elves sing a woeful song about Santa’s absence. “There’s Donner and Blintzen and all the rest,” they sing, “But Santa isn’t there!” Which is exactly what Kim just said. But thanks for the recap.
Then there’s more inane, repetitive lyrics as they all sing, “Oh tra la la la la, where has Santa gone? Tra la la la la, Santa isn’t here!” If you guys sing like this all day, I can understand Santa wanting to go off somewhere for a little alone time. The elves then sing that they’ll “just have to work some more”, which they then proceed to do. This seems to be comprised mainly of lightly tapping on stuff with wooden mallets.