Working in a video store was a great way to get exposure to great art. Almost every day I was on the job in my younger days I would either see a new film that or would interact with someone who would share their insight about a film or filmmaker. Not all the films I would come to enjoy would be considered high art. Heck, some of them were downright poorly made. But I found those poorly made one to have a charm that would bring me back again and again to them.
One such film is 1972 holiday classic, “Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny”. We had one dust-covered copy of this on VHS in the store that was very rarely touched and so one day we decided to put it on the store’s TV. I was instantly charmed by the movie, my co-worker on the other hand, was close to suicide by the 20 minute mark.
The film was made by R. Winer and was supposed to be used as a framing device for the work of another guy I never heard of named Barry Mahon. What this means is that this film contain another entirely unrelated film smack dab in the center of it. In this video I had access to, and I am not sure if there are other version, the story jumps to “Thumbelina”. If that sounds crazy, it is because it is.
Let me fill you in on the plot of the “main” feature. “Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny” starts with Santa crash landing on a Florida beach. There he meets some kids who try to help him free his sleigh from the sand. When all the attempts to knock the sleigh loose fail and the kids feel dejected, Santa tells them a story that segues into an hour-long version of “Thumbelina”. 30 minutes into “Thumbelina”, you might want to scream, but stick with it (or fast forward), because the Ice Cream Bunny will show up as promised and steal your heart.
Who/what is an Ice Cream Bunny? I am really not sure, but he does drive an antique fire truck when he shows up to take Santa on the rest of his journey. They drive off together down a very non-photogenic road and then the sleigh inexplicably disappears and the movie ends. MERRY CHRISTMAS!