Friday, December 25, 2015

Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972)

The whole concept of so-bad-it’s-good cinema is something of a wormhole. To enter this realm, a movie must be so spectacularly misguided that viewers can see past the onscreen content in order to marvel at the deranged decision-making that brought the flick into existence. On the other side of the wormhole are the true cinematic dregs, movies so inept and pointless that only the most masochistic of viewers can find any pleasure watching them. That brings us to Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, which has more than a few devotees among the Psychotronic set. Watching Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny isn’t like watching, say, an Ed Wood movie, which might feature a conventional plot executed incompetently. Instead, experiencing Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is like watching someone with massive head trauma trying to form sentences—it’s embarrassing and pathetic and sad that director R. Winer and his collaborators put their names on the movie, much less allowed public screenings. Among countless other problems, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is predicated on a bait-and-switch gimmick. The sequence referred to in the title comprises just the first 30 minutes of the movie, and the rest of the picture is a film-within-a-film about the fairy tale of Thumbelina. Worse, the whole thing is basically an advertisement for a low-rent theme park in Florida. When the picture opens, Santa Claus (Jay Clark) finds himself stranded on a beach in Florida with his sleigh because his reindeer fled the Sunshine State’s muggy heat. Huh? Santa calls for help, so local kids enlist various animals—a donkey, a horse, a pig—to pull the sleigh. Finally, the kids recruit Santa’s old buddy, the Ice Cream Bunny, who is portrayed by an adult wearing a creepy rabbit costume and driving a vintage fire truck. Then the movie abruptly shifts to the Thumbelina sequence, which has nothing to do with anything, and at regular intervals, Winer stops the movie dead to show kids enjoying the rides at the Pirate’s World theme park. Winer prudently left filmmaking behind after this disastrous debut, which survives as the ultimate lump of coal in the stocking that is holiday-themed cinema.

Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny: SQUARE

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