Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny
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|Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny|
|Directed by||Barry Mahon |
|Produced by||Barry Mahon|
|Distributed by||R & S Film Enterprises Inc.|
|Running time||95 minutes |
83 minutes (DVD)
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is a 1972 children's fantasy film made by R. Winer to frame Barry Mahon's Childhood Productions films for a Christmas release. The threadbare plot concerns Santa Claus's attempts to free his sleigh from the sands of a Florida beach, assisted by local children. Poor acting and production values have made the film a cult classic.
The film begins with a chorus of Santa's elves, played by children, singing about Christmas nearing and the absence of Santa. The action abruptly switches to a Florida beach, where Santa's sleigh has become (very superficially) mired in the sand. The absence of Santa's reindeer is explained by claiming that they flew away shortly after the mishap because it was too hot for them.
Apparently using telepathic powers, Santa summons local children to aid him. Most of the children's attempts to free him involve animals, including a pig, a sheep, a donkey, a horse, and an actor in a gorilla suit.
When all the children's attempts fail, Santa encourages them not to give up hope, telling them the story of a girl who visits the theme park Pirates World where she hears the story of "Thumbelina" as an example. The film then segues into an hour-long adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale (obviously filmed separately, with higher production values, and featuring its own credit sequence), which proves to have a longer running time than the framing story. Thumbelina is an independent musical film by Barry Mahon. Alternate prints of the film used in some locations feature another Barry Mahon adaptation, Jack and the Beanstalk, instead of the Thumbelina portion. The Winer film may have been used to frame other Mahon films, but it is with Thumbelina that it was presented on VHS by United Home Video.
After the story, the children summon the titular bunny, who arrives haphazardly driving an antique fire engine. The bunny volunteers his vehicle as a replacement for Santa's sleigh. Santa and the bunny then ride off to conduct Santa's Christmas deliveries. The children are left to ponder the problem of Santa's empty sleigh, which disappears before their eyes, ending the film.
On December 17, 2010, the Rifftrax movie-commentary project released Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, with their synchronous commentary, as a "Video on Demand" download. It has since been made available on DVD as well by Legend Films.
 Home video availability
The Thumbelina version was released on VHS by United Home Video, but is different from the theatrical version in that the Thumbelina film is shown after the Santa portion rather than during it.
In 2011, the film was made available on DVD as a bonus feature on the Rifftrax: Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny DVD from Legend Films. However, just like the version shown in the Rifftrax episode, the film is cut down to a runtime of 83 minutes due to the removal of certain musical numbers.