Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972) — In which gorillas, Huck Finn, and Thumbelina feature

“Unless you have a nice man to take care of you, terrible things can happen.”

Justin’s rating: Melts your dessert, not your heart

Justin’s review: ‘Tis the week before Christmas at Mutant Reviewers, and all year long I’ve been compiling a list of weird and unusual holiday films to put into this week. And what movie offers a stranger kickoff than the infamous Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny?

I may have bitten off more than I can chew, because this is not a movie. This is a CIA interrogation device deployed to assault the eyes and ears of all terrorists who made Santa’s “naughty list.” In the annals of bad Christmas movies, this is the best one to employ at a holiday party just to drive everyone away and give them twitchy nightmares for two months, minimum. It’s better than a gift card, I say!

So as I describe the plot of this film, please don’t think that I’m stroking out midway through. It’s flat-out bizarre, perhaps most of all for its tone, which comes across like a middle school theater teacher directing her first motion picture and assuming that we’d be just as much of a captive audience as all her other performances.

At the start, Santa Claus has been abandoned on a beach in Florida due to his sleigh getting stuck in the sand and his reindeer going, “Welp, guess we’ll head home without you. PEACE.” After pondering his situation for what feels like 45 minutes, Santa then sends a telepathic siren’s call to local Florida children and, why not, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. They all come, bringing him a virtual petting zoo of animals to work on the sleigh, including a pig, a sheep, and a gorilla. Well, a guy in a gorilla suit. On a hot, sunny beach in Florida. That couldn’t have been a fun filming day.

None of this works, so Santa embarks on Plan B, which is to sit the kids down and tell them a story. This morphs into a second movie — complete with its own opening credits, I swear — about Thumbelina. You know, the fairy tale that has nothing to do with Christmas whatsoever. This is done, in part, to show off a Hans Christian Anderson amusement park and to reuse another movie the director made that nobody wanted to watch.

Have I mentioned that all of this is also dotted with musical numbers? Which are horrible? As you would expect for anything sung and produced in the 1970s?

Once this long, long, long interruption is over and Santa finally shuts his trap, he’s rescued by the titular Ice Cream Bunny who rides in on a small fire engine and hauls Jolly Saint Nick to the North Pole. The end. Enjoy your everlasting puzzlement.

Neither of the movies, if you want to call them such, do anything right. They both feature horrible sound, lethargic acting, nonsensical developments, and no connection to each other. It’s all terrible, just terrible. It’s the sort of thing that, if your kid made it in school and brought it home for you to check out, you’d have to struggle to keep your face from falling in disappointment due to the realization that your child will never go anywhere in life or make anything more than minimum wage.

Santa, my Christmas wish is to take this movie away.

Didja notice?

  • Nothing like kicking off your movie with a horrible kids song
  • Santa’s gonna get a heat stroke in Florida
  • And now a kid jumping off a roof and probably dying
  • Santa has the ability to summon kids telepathically
  • Tom Sawyer in his hawaiian shirt
  • A beach gorilla
  • Pigs are surprisingly bad sleigh pullers
  • And now we’re at an amusement party with a… second movie?
  • It’s hard to bring a tea kettle to boil when you put it on a chest of drawers
  • Enjoy the mother’s massive face on a green screen.
  • Terrifying kid bugs
  • And now a matchmaking mole
  • Think they ran out of funds for the bird costume
  • Those kids are never getting this day of their lives back
  • And now Santa is stripping
  • The horrible bunny costume

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