Of all the second season "Masters of Horror" episodes I was most looking forward to, "We All Scream for Ice Cream" was near the very top of the list -- mainly because I consider myself a big fan of Tom Holland's work. If you're a fan of stuff like "Fright Night," "Child's Play," "The Temp," or "Thinner" then you're probably a Tom Holland fan, too. Combine that with the involvement of genre-friendly screenwriter David Schow, and that added up to a mini-horror movie I wanted to see.
Unfortunately their collaboration turns out to be a horror story as obvious as it is familiar ... and rather unintentionally silly as well. The plot (which somehow arrives with a straight face) is this: A bunch of former pals are being magically stalked by a clown-faced ice cream vendor whom they accidentally killed thirty years earlier. If that's not goofy enough for you, wait until you get a load of the killer's method of dispatch: He gives voodoo-doll-shaped ice cream bars to his victims' children -- and daddy just melts away like the world's biggest banana split. Again I'll remind you that none of this is played for laughs. Or maybe the attempt was there, but the material (to say nothing of the execution) is never once amusing on purpose.
"Oz" standout Lee Tergesen sleepwalks through a vanilla-flavored role, while the always-busy William Forsythe pops up (unrecognizably) in killer clown regalia. Between Tergesen's laid-back performance and Forsythe's over-the-top squealing, the tone of the piece is all over the place. And scary? Not once. By the time you get to scene six, you know precisely where you'll be by scene 15. And that's no fun, even with the broadly strange "ice cream transformations" that pop up from time to time.
Despite being based on a short story by John Farris, the episode is overwhelmingly beholden to two other sources: Stephen King's "It" and Wes Craven's original "Nightmare on Elm Street." Between the 'nostalgic horror that needs to be forgiven' and the 'parents being punished for long-ago sins by way of their children' themes, there's very little here that the horror fans haven't seen before.
As always, Anchor Bay brings a stand-alone "MOH" episode home with a fairly wide array of special features. Holland and Schow provide a lively audio commentary, plus there's a 14-minute "making of" featurette entitled "Sweet Revenge." Also included is an 8-minute piece on the sticky FX work called "Melt Down," a DVD-ROM accessible script, and a photo gallery. But really, this one's not much more than a rental ... if that.