Kent Baker approaches his son Jeremy in their driveway and begs him not to eat an ice cream bar. The boy ignores him and eats the ice cream... and Kent melts into a puddle of ice cream. Elsewhere in the night, an ice cream truck drives through the fog.
Kent's friends attend his funeral along with his wife Darlene and his son, and Papa Joe talks about how Kent was part of the local gang as a child, along with the other neighbor kids. Also in attendance is Layne Banixter, who has recently moved back to town with his family. A seedy-looking man is watching from the woods. After the funeral, Darlene lashes out at Layne, saying it should have been him who died. As Layne drives back from the funeral, he remembers as a boy watching Buster, an ice cream driver dressed up as a clown, performing tricks. Layne returns home, noticing that the temperature has dropped outside. His wife Angela and son Toby greet him, and his son wants to know if he has any ice cream for him.
That night, Layne goes to the bar where another of the old gang, Toot Embry, is drinking himself into a stupor and talking about another man, Skip, who died in a car accident... despite the fact the car was parked and there was nothing there but his clothes. Toot notes the funeral was closed-coffin because there was nothing but Kent's clothing to bury, and it's all happened since Layne has moved back to town. Layne and Joe talk about the old days then Layne heads for home. He notices a boy and girl standing in the street, each holding a quarter. Driving past them, his windows frost over and he almost hits his son on the lawn. His son Toby seems entranced and is also holding a quarter, and talks about waiting for the "man in the truck." Layne takes Toby inside and tries to reassure his wife.
Out on the street, a clown drives an ice cream truck and gives a treat to a boy. A young man, Buck Treadway, is driving the drunken Toot home when suddenly Toot yells for him to pull over and he runs off the road and starts vomiting. The boy takes the ice cream treat and starts eating it, and Toot starts to collapse then melts into a pile of ice cream. The seedy looking man from earlier is there and runs off after being spotted.
Layne and his wife make sure their daughter Marylyn is safe at a sleepover and end up in bed. Afterward, Layne talks about having flashbacks to his childhood where the local kids got ice cream from Buster, a mentally handicapped man. Layne and the other members of the gang looked on, including the local bully, Virgil Constance. The gang approach Buster and while Layne tries to befriend him, Vince blows smoke in Buster's face then pulls off his clown nose to reveal a burnt stub. In the present, Layne just says that Buster eventually died, Virgil remained a delinquent, and Layne figures he's still after him and the others. He and his wife are interrupted by Joe, who calls to tell him about the incident with Toot. All they find are Toot's clothing and ice cream, and the boy from the bar reveals that he saw the seedy-looking guy, which Joe identifies as Virgil.
The next morning Angela asks Marylyn if she went anywhere, and Marylyn denies it but said she had a dream where she went outside to get some ice cream. Angela has determined that a lot of parents dozed off that night and their children wandered outside. That night, the temperature drops 50 degrees in a matter of seconds and Layne dozes off in the living room. Toby walks outside and Layne wakes up and tries to stop his son, who is entranced and insists on going outside with a quarter to get ice cream. Layne sees his daughter Marylyn is already outside, and a dazed Angela holds Toby while Layne goes outside to stop his daughter. She fights briefly before collapsing, and Layne sees Buster's ice cream truck drive through the mist before fading away.
Layne goes back in the house and finds an ice cream wrapper stuck to his shoe. Angela demands to know what really happened to Buster and Layne reveals that Virgil got the rest of the gang to distract Buster and bullied Layne into releasing the brakes on the ice cream truck. It started to roll downhill while Buster tried to pick up his coins, and the clown was run over and killed.
Angela wonders if Virgil is responsible but Layne believes that Buster is back from the dead and tells Angela to take the children to her mother. He finds Virgil in a auto scrapyard, soaking in a tub. Layne tries to convince Virgil something is going on and asks him what he saw in the park with Toot. Virgil finally says he was driving to meet a girl when he saw Buster give a boy the man-shaped ice cream treat. He then followed Toot and saw him melt, that "Buster got him." Virgil figures Buster is back for revenge, and he's safe because although he's slept with a lot of women he doesn't think he has any children. Virgil figures that Buster gives his "special" ice cream to the victim's children, and when they eat the ice cream the parent dies. A furious Layne starts to attack Virgil but hears a ghostly voice chanting "We all scream for ice cream." In the streets, Buster hands an ice cream treat to a young girl, Virgil's illegitimate daughter he doesn't know he has. The girl eats the ice cream treat and in the tub, Virgil's skin pulls off as Layne looks on in horror. In a matter of seconds Virgil is nothing but ice cream floating in the water and on the floor.
The next morning Angela wakes up to find Layne brooding at the window. He asks her to take their children to her mother, then goes to see Papa Joe. The ice cream company has been closed for 20 years and Layne wants to know if anyone hates him enough to kill him. Papa Joe warns that it won't do any good and he's as guilty as the others, but Layne is concerned for his family. Papa Joe agrees to help and they return to Layne's place to find that Angela hasn't left. He insists that she leave and she finally goes with Toby and Marylyn. Layne then checks the yard sprinklers and the lights with a remote.
As Angela is driving out of town as the sun goes down, the windows freeze over, and the ice cream truck pulls up behind them. The entranced children run outside but Angela's door is frozen. Buster appears in the window, terrifying her.
At his house, Layne takes normal ice cream out of the freezer and puts it in the wrapper he stepped on earlier. On the street, Buster gives an ice cream treat to Papa Joe's kid and promises him revenge. Papa Joe is driving home when he melts and pours out of the car door.
Layne tries to call Papa Joe without success and the temperature outside drops to below zero as Buster pulls up in his truck. Layne picks up a cooler and goes outside to confront Buster, who has a bucket filled with what's left of Papa Joe. Layne believes that his children are gone but Buster reveals that they're behind the truck. They come out and Layne tries to hold them back while turning on the lights and sprinklers. The water causes Buster to freeze and Layne grabs an axe, but tries to apologize. However, Buster revives and his touch burns. Toby and Marylyn come for the ice cream bar but they fight over it. Layne uses a hose on Buster and then a bucket of water and a super-soaker, but he's only able to hold him back as he advances with an axe. Layne knocks over the cooler and the ice cream treat falls out. Buster starts to strangle Layne but Toby spots the new treat, picks it up, and opens it. It's an ice cream treat in the shape of Buster. Toby eats it... and Buster melts away. Angela arrives but there's nothing left of Buster but his nose.
Later, Layne closes up Papa Joe's bar for the last time. He and his family get in the car to move to a new town, but as they leave, Layne hears children chanting "We scream for ice cream" in the distance... Share this article with your friends