Ice Scream 1997
Directed by: Derek Zemrak
Starring: Conrad Brooks, Christa Currie, Angie Warrington
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
The slasher genre has long been acknowledged as a base source for some of the hottest talents in cinema. As I have said before, the likes of Tom Hanks, Ellen Barkin, Mickey Rourke and Holly Hunter all launched their respective careers with bit parts in period splatter movies. But a fact that is often overlooked by followers is that the cycle is equally as significant as a retirement home for luminaries that may have already had their finest hour. The Sam Loomis character alluringly portrayed by Donald Pleasance in Halloween became a landmark ingredient for the category, which would leave the door open for screen veterans to attempt to re-ignite their status. Performers like George Kennedy, Farley Granger, Lawrence Tierney, Martin Landau and even Jack Palance have all added experience to youthful casts in various genre entries.
Ice Scream on the other hand has not opted for the traditional approach of snapping up an old hand with a glittering career history in the top tier. Instead we get B-movie legend Konrad Biedrzycki aka Conrad Brooks, whose credits include the film voted “the worst movie of all time” at The Golden Turkey awards! Yep you guessed it, Brooks was a student of notorious schlock director Ed Wood and he was a regular addition to his cast lists. His inclusion almost immediately gave Derek Zemrak’s slasher an alluring cult appeal and I could almost taste the cheese dripping from the VHS as I popped it into my VCR.
Randy Smith (Brooks) owns an ice cream parlour in a small city. Not content that the business is as lucrative as it could be, he decides on a huge revamp, which incorporates two of America’s most favourable pleasures. Out go the long white overalls of the female employees and in come skimpy mini-skirts and cleavage exposing boob tubes and a new moniker for the flirtatious workforce. Now business is looking good for the ‘scoopettes’ as they entice male customers with their revealing outfits and cheeky one-liners, which include, ‘Enjoy every lick!’ All is going swimmingly for Brooks’ industry master plan until a psychopathic killer with a cardboard box on his head begins killing off the scoopettes with a carving knife. Will any of them live to whip up a tasty bank balance from their ice cream careers? Or will they melt into B-movie obscurity?
Having watched throughout my life nearly 800-slasher movies, I must admit that I have grown accustomed with various directors’ interesting approaches to padding out a 90-minute runtime. Edwin Brown’s The Prey became notorious for its inclusion of wildlife footage, whilst many titles opt for nonsensical and un-plot related character building. Zemrak on the other hand seems content to continually repeat identical shots of his exceptionally endowed ‘scoopettes’ preparing ice cream. To be honest I am making Ice Scream sound a lot better than it actually is, because watching semi-attractive porn rejects prepare a king cone becomes very boring… very quickly. They strut around trying their best to ‘act’ whilst customers enjoy a screw ball or a vanilla swirl – usually plucked from the waitresses’ cleavage. Sounds like good fun, and it is… for a while, but the good parts don’t last. It’s also worth noting that for a synopsis so focussed on the female anatomy, it’s a massive surprise that there’s no nudity at all.
The dramatics from the cast are what you’d expect from college drop-outs picked up because they agreed to prance around in tight shorts and boob tubes and Conrad Brooks hams his way through the runtime like his preparing to become the hottest purchase at the local delicatessen. There’s supposed to be a bit of a mystery element, but it’s virtually non-existent and I am positive that everyone will guess the identity of the madman by the close of his first screen appearance. The murders are sparse and bloodless and it sometimes feels like it is trying too hard to poke fun at itself, when a more sinister approach may have made it more enjoyable. Ice Scream seems to take place in a dimension far from planet Earth, because even after the deceased workers and their limbs are discovered littering the parlour, Scoopettes still remains open all hours for business!
This is most definitely a tongue in cheek tribute to the legend of Edward Wood and his zany efforts from forty-years earlier. Unfortunately its comedic attempts fail to cover up the stench of rank amateurism and the audience never seem to be on the same wavelength as the director, which means that it’s pretty much a failure. There’s no doubt that this will have a fan base because it is so obscure and tough to locate, but the only fun to be had will be in the search for an original copy. When you finally receive it you will kick yourself for trying so hard. Unfortunately this is not even bad in a funny kind of way, it’s just bad. To add insult to injury an equally dire remix was released in 2008, which I will review when I manage to get over this…
Final Girl: √