We All Scream...
When we see Gregory Tudor, The Ice Cream Man on our street! Gregory is a role that Clint Howard is still recognized for, so is it really any wonder that 20 years later he and director/producer Norman Apstein are looking to the fans to help make a sequel to The Ice Cream Man, one of the great creepy cult hits of the 90's? They recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the sequel called, Ice Cream Man 2: Sundae Bloody Sundae.
I knew the instant I saw the campaign Clint Howard was some one I wanted to talk to! You see beyond some of the more recognizable characters that most attach him to, hes actually carved out a very long and successful career, over the years. He is an often under rated in my opinion, with numerous roles in various cult films like Rock n Roll High School, House of the Dead, Austin Powers Series, Carnosaur and The Wraith just to name a handful. Many times despite his very unique look, he is isn't even recognizable in the characters he plays. In fact looking back at his career it was honestly shocking how many fantastic films hes been a part of, well beyond those of his older brother Ron's, mega blockbusters, but he plays his characters so well you often don't even realize its Clint, and that's one heck of an accomplishment for any actor!
He's a bit of a counter culture icon, with everything from his conservative views in a predominantly liberal leaning industry, to his involvement over the years in serious cult films. Hell he even fronted a new wave band in the 80's, The Kempster's that played live for a few years and had obvious punk style roots. Truly Clint is an interesting guy, who I could chat with for hours, but on this day, with early pre-production going on for Ice Cream Man 2: Sundae Bloody Sundae, it was easy to pick a topic of conversation!
Well Norman and I have remained friends over the years, socially. I respect him, and here a few months ago he had come to the realization of something that I understood because of me doing personal appearances. The Ice Cream Man has a place out there. The Ice Cream Man, as silly of a movie as it is, left a mark on a lot of people, and Norman realized this. He asked me, “hey how would you like to do one of these Kickstarters? And let’s see if we can drum up some interest in doing ICM2”. I thought it would be a blast! I had fun doing the first one, I was in a completely different space in my life but, I certainly enjoyed the first one. Coming back and teaming with Norman to create a new fun horrifying movie seems like a pretty good idea and it sounds like a pretty good way to spend 6 months!
How did you become involved in the first one, and when you guys where making it did you really have any idea that it would go on to such cult status?
I got a phone call from my agent telling me I had an audition for a movie, I didn’t really think about anything other than do I have enough gas to get there. Originally it was just a part, a good part for this very odd character in this very odd kind of kid’s horror movie. I didn’t have any conflict, so I went to the audition and Norman met me. He told me, since then, he immediately he knew that I was going to be the guy to play the Ice Cream Man, but I didn’t know that, you know four or five other guys where in the room and they looked pretty good to me, anyway, that is how it started.
Then we went off and made the movie it was just a blast to make. It very much reminded me of those experiences I had working on Roger Corman films, very memorable. The thing about independent film making, guerilla film making, is it strips away all of the veneer of the job and just allows you to do the job without a lot of BS, there is no fruit baskets in the dressing rooms, but who the hell needs a fruit basket? I eat my fruit at home before I come to work.
Thats a very refreshing perspective for someone of your background.
Well I know that there is fan interest, you see the campaign being shared on social medias, and people sort of reminiscing about the original. I believe part of the allure with that one was the phenomenal cast, yourself obviously included, then you add names like Hussey, Naughton, and Bergman, and there was some real wow factor! I cant help but wonder as a fan, can we expect any role reprisals past yours as The Ice Cream Man?
I couldn't answer that right now, but Norman and I do recognize the value of keeping identifiable people, unique identifiable people in a movie like this. There are show business people that consider it stunt casting, but I wouldn't. I think that its finding unique interesting people to help tell the story.
Olivia was a wonderful wacky choice. She is wonderful. I've known her over the years and she is a great gal. If we can figure out something for Olivia to do I know that Norman and I would be the first to thrust our hands in the air and say yea yea she is the one! But there is lots of other opportunities too. I mean It’s been 20 years and I know a lot of other kooky characters so I think that it’s safe to say any kind of sequel to the Ice Cream Man would include a lot of interesting character casting.
Norman and I, we don’t want to do a kids movie. We may have to have some children in the movie, because who else is going to follow an ice cream truck? But the central characters to our movie are the characters that were children in the first ICM. So those characters are alive, but after 20 years a lot of times people have changed careers, moved out of state, or have just disengaged from the industry. All those kids, are now adults in life and the movie, and if they were interested in coming back to be part of the picture we would certainly consider that.
It sounds like you and Norman are possibly teaming up to do the scripting for Ice Cream Man 2, or are you guys looking at bringing Dobkin and Davison back for writing duties?
Norman had bought the script off this kid Dobkin, who wrote it when he was in college, and I think Norman did a pretty significant rewrite, so no Norman and I would hire somebody. We would try to find some young hungry writer that is willing to do some heavy lifting. Of course Norman and I, acting as producers, would be editors of the story, and we have some wonderful ideas. We have some wonderful fresh ideas, I wish that I could explain them to you but I’m not going too (chuckles), ways of making it multi-layered and multi-dimensional. The original movie, outside of Gregory’s dream sequences in the asylum played linearly, and we’re not sure we are going to do that this time. Although Norman was not real proud of the insane asylum sequences, whereas I thought they were a hoot! I think we need to expand on those scenes in the insane asylum.
Well yeah, listen let us not shy away from the booby hatch! I don’t know, I just found it to be great! Even talking with you briefly on the phone and remembering the movie, remembering the story … We were a lot younger, and it’s not a great movie, we can make it a lot better. But there was so much about it that just curled a little smile in the corner of your mouth, you know it was not designed to be campy. It was just designed to be kind of, you know I don’t know... I like the sense of humor but I think that if we aim for campy, hmmm. Its gonna miss, like back in the day when they tried doing the campy funny versions of Dracula, like Leslie Nelson (rest in peace) and Frank Langella, I believe, did a version where they tried to make Dracula funny No, No, No, No! Ice Cream Man slits throats and he doesn’t do it while singing.
No, Gregory as the Ice Cream Man is an inherently creepy character, sort of leering and uncomfortable.
Yeah, we’re not Phantom of the Opera, this is not a musical. We promise the fans there is no singing (laughs)
Regarding the funding, why did you guys choose crowd funding? Are you hoping to crowd fund the film entirely, or is it as an additional source of budget for the film?
Well there are several reasons, one is it works occasionally. It’s also a wonderful, way to get the audience temperature on a project, if done correctly in terms of getting the word out. Norman and I don’t want to waste six months of our lives doing something that lacks response. We are both to the points in our careers where we want to rattle some cages. The kickstarter, the action and the activity on the kickstarter website, through that business model it gives us a pretty good gauge of what we are looking at, the response is robust, but the fact is it’s a relatively small piece of the pie. Cult horror movie making is not a big bullseye, there is no denying it’s very rare when some small horror movie can cross over and do big business.
Right and that’s part of cult standing it starts out slow and over the years it grows into something that is so much bigger than what people expected initially.
Yes! Norman and I don’t have a script, but we both are experienced in the film maker world especially here in Los Angeles, pulling some favors and designing on the cheap. There are some simple things which will keep a budget down. Some of this sounds very simplistic but it really is true, very few sets, very few actors, very few children and no animals. You have to go in saying you’re going to shoot fast. If you are going to make movies in today’s economy with today’s money, you have to figure on shooting it in 15 days. That is guerrilla film making at its finest. Norman and I believe that we can assemble a team that can do it. It can’t be Ben Hur, it can’t be something that involves thirty or forty locations. It becomes, from a production standpoint, impractical but with modern technology, modern equipment, it is amazing what you can do in three or four days of work, if you work hard.
I’ve seen people shoot an entire 11 episode TV series in like 6 weeks. They planned it and it was brilliant how they planned. Its called Birthday Boys (IFC), they sort of wrote it not word for word but they had an idea of what every sketch in their show was going to be, then then went out to schedule it. They loaded their equipment into the Herald Examiner building for eight days, they didn’t have to use teamsters, everything was on the cheap and then 5 days somewhere else and so on... They cut it all together and they have 11 episodes that IFC is able to show! It’s a great example, it shows in today's day and age it is all very do able!
Speaking of production are you guys currently thinking more along the line for CGI for effects or are you sticking with the practical effects used in the original?
I am sure the fans will be glad to hear that the effects are truly part of the charm and fun of the original!
I appreciate that, and it’s all in good fun! God help the people that take this stuff too serious. Horror movies to me, are a wonderful variation of entertainment. I tell you what, there is nothing more fun than watching a horror movie every once in a while. It’s really great to get some of those old fashioned frights, some blood, some of those effects where your girlfriend turns away from the t.v. that’s fun stuff.
I've always thought fear is one of the great equalizer. It crosses all bounds, borders, ethnicities… It’s one of those things that we all experience basically the same way. I think that's part of the appeal of the genre.
Sure and its fun too, this Ice Cream Man thing came along and it just seemed to be like a no brainer. It gives Norman and I a wonderful chance to hang out and who knows where it’s going to go, but one thing that I have learned about the motion picture business is you just follow the bouncing ball. Just follow it, maybe it ends up getting stuck underneath a couch and you can’t follow it any further but when you have a project or an idea its best if you just keep following it to the end.
It sounds like you guys are very early in the pre production stage so this is probably premature, but can you give any idea when you could possibly be going into full production or a tentative projection on release date?
Well a release date would be way premature. You know guerilla film making is kind of interesting, you don’t really have to worry about anything. You do however, have to find a good place to shoot, that's really important. Finding a place that is like a studio, you know, a warehouse or something, where you can load your equipment, you can build a couple of sets that you need, and you can be there for an extended period of time. Meaning if it’s a 15 day shoot we need to find a place to work at 10 of those 15 days. Then some of the timing of when we go into production is when the sites available. We certainly can’t afford to call Universal Studios on the phone and say we need stage 27 book it, it's shoe string and guerrilla film making. Production start will also depend on peoples availability.
But that being said, we would definitely want to do it sooner than later. It’s not a foot race but it’s not one of these things that needs to percolate for a year or two either. I believe that Norman and I could pull this together in maybe 3 months. So I would expect spring time filming.
Oh I don’t know, maybe …
That would be awesome! And you say that in a way that leaves me very hopeful! (chuckling)
I appreciate that, I do vow that The Kempster's will never perform live again (laughs)
I read that you had compiled a CD of the bands music, and am curious is the CD still available?
Well we did it when we were angry young men you know and I am not an angry young man anymore. I know when to quit unlike some in rock and roll, but I listen to it all the time.
I’m very fortunate, our lead guitar player kept archives of all of our rehearsals and performances. Most of the time the recordings are just horrible, you know the p.a. system was bad or the acoustics weren't right. He would just put down his little Walkman stereo recorder on a cocktail table or put it somewhere in our studio rehearsal room, you know so we could hear ourselves. And I have all those tapes. I managed to put together a couple of CD’s of The Kempster's, one of them is available and then one just in my personal archive. When I get around to it I can certainly can burn copies and maybe put out a second Kempster’s CD.
How can fans like me get their hands on a copy of the first CD?
Well at this point they cant really (laughs). Lets see how can I put this?? I am too lazy to launch any sort of website! So the answer is no I can’t say (laughs). I have a bunch in my garage, its something you can just come over to my house I would make a pretty good deal if someone wants to buy ten, they could have ten really cheap! (laughing) One of these days I will figure out how to put it on Amazon. for now I would rather worry about making movies than about putting out a Kempster's Cd, but people can contact me on Facebook. You can send me a message and if someone REALLY wants a CD well, there is a pretty good chance that it can show up in the mail.
I would love one sir! I enjoyed the songs I was able to check out online and was disappointed I couldnt listen to more. It was very cool stuff indeed!
Oh yeah? Well thank you, and you know what? Be patient with me, but I will send you one.
That would be fabulous sir, thank you!
In ending this I have two questions for the Ice Cream Man himself…
Is Butter Brickle still your favorite flavor Gregory?
(eerie pause) I uh, I like all kinds of Ice Cream (very creepy and then just goes quiet, still as a dark night)
And just what exactly is in a Sundae Bloody Sundae, Ice Cream Man?
Well... there is a lot of stuff in a Sundae that you don’t even want to know, you just don’t even want to know… Your relatives could be in my Sundae…