Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is a 1972 musical fantasy film composed, shot, edited and directed 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.
Different prints of the film feature one of two films-within-the-film (that takes up a majority of the film itself). They are Barry Mahon's previously filmed 1970 adaptations of Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina or Benjamin Tabart's Jack and the Beanstalk.
Poor acting and production values have garnered Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny a cult following.
In Santa's workshop in the North Pole, Santa's elves sing about Christmas nearing and Santa's absence. Meanwhile, on a beach in Florida, Santa's sleigh has become mired in the sand, and his reindeer have flown away to escape the heat, leaving him stuck. Santa sings a song bemoaning his troubles, then falls asleep.
Several local children hear Santa calling them telepathically, and run to him. Santa awakes and explains his predicament. One boy asks why Santa does not fly back to the North Pole on a plane, he explains that he cannot abandon his sleigh and needs their help pulling it out of the sand. The kids bring him several animals, including a pig, a sheep, a donkey, a horse, and a gorilla.
Meanwhile, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn watch and comment on the action from a distance.
When all the children's attempts fail, Santa encourages them not to give up hope, and tells them a story about a girl who visits the theme park Pirates World and hears the story of "Thumbelina" as an example. A previously produced film of Thumbelina plays, complete with its original credit sequence, and runs longer than its frame story (alternative prints of the film use another Mahon adaptation, Jack and the Beanstalk, as Santa's story).
After the story, Santa encourages the kids to "always believe". One girl tells Santa that her dog, Rebel, can do anything. The kids leave. Santa takes off his coat and falls asleep once more. He wakes up and puts his coat back on when the kids return in an antique fire engine, singing about how they will help Santa. The engine is being driven by the titular Ice Cream Bunny, whom Rebel has summoned. The Ice Cream Bunny offers to drive Santa to the North Pole and they depart. The children realize Santa's sleigh is still stuck in the sand and wonder what to do, before it teleports to the North Pole, waiting for Santa's arrival.
Narrated by Dorothy Brown Green (uncredited)
|Jay Clark||Santa Claus|
|Charlie and David (uncredited)||Fighting kids|
|Kathy (uncredited)||Skateboard girl|
|Mike (uncredited)||Skateboard donkey boy|
|Kim Nicholas (uncredited)||Donkey girl|
|Robin (uncredited)||Rebel's owner|
|Sandy (uncredited)||Boy jumping off roof|
|Archive footage: Thumbelina|
|Pat Morrell||Mrs. Mole|
|Bob O'Connell||Mr. Digger|
|Sue Cable||Flower girl|
|Mike Yuenger||Flower prince|
|Archive footage: Jack and the Beanstalk|
|Dorothy Stokes||Jack's mother|
|Chris Brooks||Honest John|
- On the United Home Video release with Thumblina, the closing Bookended segment and the fairytale story has been swapped places. The result is the ending of the opening segment fades out and fades in at the start of the closing.
- On the "Rifftrax" DVD edition from Legend Films, the fairytale story is shortened by 12 minutes, in order to accommodate the riffs.
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