“…one of the strangest and most baffling pieces of outsider art that Mike, Kevin and Bill have ever riffed.”–Rifftrax ad copy for Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny
DIRECTED BY: R. Winer, (Thumbelina)
FEATURING: Jay Ripley, Shay Garner
PLOT: Santa’s sleigh is stuck in the Florida sand. After a series of animals fail to dislodge it, St. Nick tells the assembled children the story of “Thumbelina,” visualized as a movie-inside-the-movie, which also has its own wraparound sequence about a girl visiting the “Pirates World” theme park to view a series of fairy tale dioramas. Eventually, a creature known as “the Ice Cream Bunny” rides out of Pirates World in a firetruck and rescues Santa.
- Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny was selected to go on the List of the 366 Weirdest Movies in the 5th Readers Choice Poll.
- Thumbelina, the movie-within-a-movie that is actually longer than the Santa Claus story itself, is directed by Barry Mahon, the nudie-cutie specialist responsible for such erotic atrocities as Cuban Rebel Girls, Fanny Hill Meets Lady Chatterly, and The Diary of Knockers McCalla.
- Director “R. Winer” never worked again (or if he did, he used a different pseudonym).
- Pirates World (the park’s official name has no possessive apostrophe) was a pre-Diney World theme park in Dania, Florida that closed sometime between 1937-1975. The Thumbelina insert footage was produced by Pirates World, and the Ice Cream Bunny also drives through the park on his way to rescue Santa.
- There are reports that some prints of the film contained a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk rather than Thumbelina as the movie-within-a-movie.
- The uncut VHS version of the movie runs 96 minutes, while the Legend/Rifftrax DVD version has a run time of 83 minutes due to the omission of a few Thumbelina musical numbers. According to some reviewers, on an alternate VHS release Thumbelina is presented after the Santa Claus plotline has resolved, as a bonus feature.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: The first question is, which movie should the indelible image come from: the Santa Claus wraparound, or the Thumbelina story that actually takes up most of the runtime? As much as we like (by which I mean, shudder at) the image of the furry black monstrosities (flies?) in white bibs and striped swim trunks who hop around the yellow toadstools hunting Thumbelina, we have to go with the title creature (not Santa, the other one). The Bunny is a nightmarish apparition, half mothballed-Easter mascot from a defunct department store, half Frank from Donnie Darko. Your blood will run cold as you watch him dance a happy jig and pat a shivering blonde tyke on the top of her pony-tailed head.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: It’s got a sweaty Santa stranded in Florida, a guy in a gorilla suit, an Ice Cream Bunny (whatever that is), Thumbelina, and scenic footage of Pirates World. Not weird enough for you? Well, how about the fact that Tom Sawyer (in a Hawaiian shirt) and Huck Finn (with a raccoon) also show up? They may be intended as symbolic stand-ins for the audience, because they seem totally nonplussed by the proceedings. When I initially reviewed Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, on a sudden whim as a way to fill a column on December 25, 2011, I wrote: “Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is weird enough to make the List, but the fact that it can only be endured by injecting Novocaine directly into the part of the brain responsible for processing continuity would make Certifying this movie a public health risk.” Rejecting our nanny-site policies, readers overwhelmingly spoke out in favor of honoring Ice Cream Bunny as one of the weirdest films of all time. Your wish is our command, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Clip from Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny
COMMENTS: When someone like me, who’s watched They Saved Hitler’s Brain multiple times—voluntarily, not as part of a CIA Continue reading 183. SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY (1972)