Welcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where what you flush, I flaunt. Our month long celebration of Christmas continues this week with the 1972 cinematic lump of coal, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.
What’s The Plot?
Santa Claus’ sleigh becomes stuck on a Florida beach somehow and enlists a diverse group of local children with no real personalities to try and help him. They try and fail to force a variety of barnyard animals to pull the sleigh, Santa tells a longwinded story about Thumbelina (or Jack & The Beanstalk, depending on the print) , and then the Ice Cream Bunny (who?) cranks up in his vintage firetruck (what?) to give Santa a lift to the North Pole (WHAT?!).
Who Made This Beautiful Garbage?
Pirates World, a regional amusement park utterly crushed by Disney opening their Florida park nearby in 1971. The film seems to be an extended ad for the place, filmed in and around the park presumably using costumes and props they had on hand.
The park closed forever in 1975 and is now a condo complex.
Five Reasons to See It
- The Ice Cream Bunny nearly tosses the kids from his firetruck and/or runs over their dog multiple times during the extended sequence of him driving to Santa’s rescue.
- Santa’s story about Thumbelina takes the form of a completely unrelated film dropped unceremoniously into the middle of this one. In it, a teenage girl has the story of Thumbelina narrated to her by an attraction at Pirates World.
- The Thumbelina film was directed by one of the real life World War II prisoners of war who escaped from Stalag Luft III and inspired The Great Escape. Which has no bearing on the film’s quality despite being really fascinating trivia.
- Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, apparently agelessly immortal, watch Santa’s predicament from the bushes without ever interacting with the plot. Their theme music is “Old Man River” played on kazoo. Yes.
- “What is that? What is that I hear? Where’s it coming from? I hear a siren, but I don’t see any fire, I don’t see any smoke. Whenever there’s a siren, it means there’s a fire, but I don’t see any smoke. That siren. Where is it coming from? Where’s that sound coming from?” – Santa, talking to himself like a crazy person and desperately vamping for time.
This movie is awful, and inexplicable, and awful, and cheap, and awful. It was obviously made by desperate amusement park employees with what they had on hand and a budget of five bucks. In short – amusing as hell. It’s also available in full on YouTube, so give it a look. There’s also a RiffTrax version available, if you’d prefer some intentional comedy to get you through the dull bits.
NEXT WEEK: We travel south of the border for 1959’s Santa Claus.