Masters of Horror: We All Scream for Ice Cream (TV)
Directed by Tom Holland
Original Airdate: January 12th, 2007
Masters of Horror has gone political, farcical, and just plain scary. In this installment, they go for the icon that causes fear in even the most jaded of horror fans: Clowns. As someone who finds the pasty-faced buggers more than terrifying, I was looking forward to this episode with great anticipation. When I found out that it was written by legendary horror icon David J. Schow, I was even more thrilled. Topping it off, being directed by the director of Child's Play and Fright Night, Tom Holland, I thought there was no way this one could miss. Throughout this episode, I thought it was going to end on a great note and be the quintessential MoH episode. And I was wrong.
"We All Scream for Ice Cream" is a typical revenge tale. The angry ghost of a retarded clown ice cream man (nope, not kidding on that one) returns to the night, drawing out the children of the juvenile delinquents who caused his untimely demise. He gives them magical ice cream which, when eaten, causes their fathers to convulse and melt in a puddle of what appears to be bloody ice cream. As with most revenge tales, one of the little miscreants has terrible regret about his role in the dead clown's death and therefore decides to fight his fate as a technicolor puddle. Of course, no one believes him until it's too late.
First, let's focus on the strengths of this episode. All the actors involved did a good job with the script they were given. Especially well performed was the part of Buster the clown, who was played by William Forsythe. Also, as should be expected by the director of Child's Play, the children in this episode are as creepy as in any movie I've ever seen. The other parts were performed adequately. This film also marks the first time I can remember ever feeling sorry for a clown in a horror movie.
However, there is quite a bit wrong with this episode that kept it from fulfilling its potential. First off, it may have been the camera angles, the lighting, or some other technique which was not used, but it just wasn't scary. While one might think a phantom ice cream truck driven by a demon clown, preying on the children of a neighborhood sounds scary, it just came off as a regular truck surrounded by dry-ice smoke. Camera angles could have been used to tell the story, lighting could have been used to build the tension, but the director preferred to use straight-on camera angles and normal lighting that made the truck about as frightening as a Yugo in suburbia.
Another problem came from the writing, which is a shame because Schow is capable of so much more. Without giving too much away, there are plot holes that are large enough to drive an ice cream truck through. There are also points made in the script that seem to have been thrown in for no good reason. Apparently, Buster the clown wore his red clown nose in life because he didn't have a real one. Interesting point? Not really. There was no other mention of the noseless wonder, just one instance where one of the mean little bastards that eventually wound up killing him ripped it off and managed to freak out all the little kids standing around.
The ending also made little sense. The ending will probably have even the easiest of us to please sitting up and saying "what the..?" What could have been a colossal battle between good and evil, a bout for the redemption of one man or the revenge of another, a real knock-down-drag-out between man and clown, turned into a ho-hum ending that leaves a bad taste in viewers' collective mouths. In fact, up until the last ten minutes of the episode, I had high hopes. When it was over, I checked to see if perhaps I'd sat on the remote control and switched to some other channel. No such luck.
There just seemed to come a point where Schow gave up and started throwing in horror movie clichés out of boredom. For example, there was the "boo" scene in which the clown popped up beside a car and scared overacted hell out of one of the former thugs' wife. There was even the "The End?" style ending in which the evil clown's voice is heard on the wind, even after he's been vanquished. He even goes so far as to pop up in the last shot of the episode, leading viewers to believe that this might not be the last appearance of Buster after all.
There comes a point where one should ask the Masters in the MoH title a simple question: "You're not really trying, are you?" They've all proven themselves time and again with classics in the genre. Now, when given the chance to show their unfettered vision, they're resting on their laurels. There are a few good points, but for the most part this episode, like so many others this season, is a disappointment.
2 out of 5
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