Clint Howard became a b-movie horror king in the 90s, appearing in two Silent Night, Deadly Night films (blog here), Leprechaun 2, The Dentist 2 (blog here), Humanoids from the Deep (blog here), and these three films.
Clint has a pretty minor role in this one as a patient at the mental institution in which the film takes place. Other patients include iconic actors like Irwin Keyes and Geoffrey Lewis. The doctor from Elm Street 3 is a nurse this time, but the demotion doesn’t stop her obsession with quiet rooms and group therapy. Here she is with a blurred Clint in the background.
Malcolm McDowell is the star doctor in the film. When his new patient, played by Pamela Gidley (Highway to Hell, Aberration), dies in his care, he tries to cover it up and make it look like a suicide…but the body disappears. Malcolm puts the entire staff and the patients to work looking for her, but she can’t be found. However, she keeps appearing to Malcolm as a walking corpse, causing him to slowly descend into madness!
Disturbed at first seems to be a serious thriller, but the dark humor starts to creep up on you and by the end you might find yourself giggling, especially at Malcolm McDowell’s brilliant performance. There’s also a delicious twist.
Interesting to note that one particular moment in the movie is a perfect example of the way in which gays have been used as punching bags in film. Pamela Gidley’s character is in therapy and says, “The only people I can trust are faggots. And I hate faggots.” The line adds absolutely nothing to the movie and is completely pointless, especially considering there are, well, no faggots in the movie!
When a group of troubled teens is chaperoned into the woods for the weekend, it can only mean trouble. The teens include a young Seth Green, Alfonso Ribeiro (breaking free of his clean cut Carlton image), and Ami Dolenz of Witchboard 2, and Pumpkinhead 2. Their chaperones include the other Bosom Buddy and the mother from Pinocchio’s Revenge.
Meanwhile, Clint Howard is concocting steroid-filled marijuana plants…that effect ticks. And so we get a gross out rubber bug feature loaded with slimy larva, giant bugs that squirt blood when you squish them, and people with oozing sores and puss-filled facial growths. Eventually, everyone ends up in one cabin together, surrounded by big tick swarms that need to be taken out with fire.
This is the way to go if you want icky cheap creepy crawly fun with a cast of familiar horror faces.
ICE CREAM MAN (1995)
Clint Howard at last stars…as…the ice cream man! This is about as good as 90s cheesy exploitation horror gets.
Freshly out of a mental institution after seeing the ice cream man hit by a car as a child, Clint is now driving an ice cream truck himself…one filled with bugs, mice, and Clint’s special ice cream ingredient: body parts.
At first, with Clint behind a barred window, everything in the truck beyond looking dark as night, and innocent children as the victims, the movie feels like it’s going to be really creepy. But it ends up a campy trash flick, with Clint’s wacky performance giving it most of its spirit.
As he kills kids and tries to dispose of the bodies, all the while having trippy dreams about being in the mental institution, some local kids play detective team to prove he’s a killer. But the local detectives—Jan-Michael Vincent and hot hot bionic son Lee Majors II—who are actually investigating the missing kid cases, don’t believe them.
The finale of the film gets totally insane, in a stupid good way. The detectives end up in a bogus mental institution being chased by the patients that still live there, and the ice cream man chases kids around with heads on a stick. He also clocks the detectives with ice cream scoopers. Great mid-90s crap, for sure.
The cast also includes Olivia Hussey of the original Black Christmas and Psycho IV, David Warner of From Beyond the Grave and The Omen, and cutie American Werewolf David Naughton—as served in a cone in the pic above.