A bad joke on the talent both behind and in front of the camera, the much anticipated We All Scream for Ice Cream was perhaps the weakest entry in the Masters of Horror series yet. Written by David Schow from a story by bestseller John Farris, this marked the much-lauded return of macabre master Tom Holland, whose Child's Play and Fright Night helped define the aesthetic of mainstream horror in the 1980s. And while Holland handles the atmosphere and photography with customary panache, ridiculous plot elements and unbelievable characters conspire to rape both the fright and intelligence out of this handicapped comic book story.
We Scream features a plot drabbed in supernatural vengeance, misspent youth, and redemption. Buster, a sweet if mentally slow adult who enjoys selling ice cream to neighborhood children is targeted by your typical mean spirited brats. When Tergeson's character, a well meaning if impressionable kid, is suckered into playing a prank on Buster, he is killed. Years later when Tergesen brings his wife and children back to his hometown to live, the old gang responsible for Buster's demise begin dying in mysterious and messy ways, leaving only their clothes and bad dreams behind. In addition, the children of the original offenders are themselves caught up in the occult evil, allowing themselves to be instrumental pawns in the goofy gruesome deaths of their parents. Revenge is a treat that tastes best served cold, and Buster is coming to town with a truck full of voodoo-doll like ice cream treats . . . If little plausibility.
Again, it's easy to ask how such a starling cast and creative team could have botched such a promising concept. Evil clown-like ice cream vender from the dead? Check! Guilt ridden pasts haunting the present? Yup, got that! Tom Holland's directorial skills, Schow's writing ability, and actors William Forsythe and Lee Tergesen? They're here too. In fact, the only things that seem to be missing are suspense, character empathy, and horror. Most offensive is the lack of respect this film holds for the viewer, expecting us to simply sacrifice believability because, well, the filmmakers/writers tell you to. The most glaring nonsense is the manner in which characters die. They are -- wait for it! -- melted into glops of ice cream, puddles on the ground. This is such an absurdist image that it destroys all credibility in the story. This lack of sympathy and belief makes it easy not to care one way or another how the story ends. This reminds one more of Killer Clowns from Outer Space than it does a true horror movie, with the exception that Killer Clowns 'meant' to be silly. With lacklustre dialogue, an uneven story structure, and no real look into Buster's mysterious nature or return from the grave, this ugly duckling never has a chance to grow into the horror hit it could have, and that is far more depressing than any of the pathos aimed for by author David Schow.
Unsurprisingly the flick looks great. Featured in a 16x9 widescreen transfer, the picture is clean and without speckles or visual flaw. Colors are bold and gorgeous, livening up one of the film's atmosphere -- one of the few merits here. Audio is featured in both 5.1 and 2.0 tracks, both of which are clean and without background distortion.
Extras are standard, including the expected Anchor Bay/Starz Commentary and behind the scenes features. Perhaps the most entertaining of these is the Audio Commentary with Schow and Holland, both of which complain, trade quips, and somehow manage to remain polite to one another despite their apparent displeasure with what made it (and what didn't) to screen. "Sweet Revenge" documents the making of the film, with an interview with Forsythe. "Melt Down" is a segment that dives into the effects of the project, followed by Photo Gallery, Trailers, and the Script.
Review by William Simmons
|Released by Starz/Anchor Bay (USA)|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|