So you’ve got no idea who The Banana Splits are, huh? You’re probably not the only one. They were a really popular group of characters that had their own series from 1968-1970, created by Hanna Barbera and Sid and Marty Krofft. They were goofy and had a series of shorts and one heck of a catchy theme song. But, by 2019, they were forgotten…until SyFy had the weird idea to bring them back for…a horror movie?
Hey, why not? It’s not like bringing back a traditional Banana Splits TV series would’ve stuck the landing. Not with today’s TV tastes. And so, we have The Banana Splits Movie, a splatfest that brings back the four characters as they film a round of their live TV show, with robots filling in for live actors in the suits. And, in pureFive Nights At Freddy’s fashion, things go from bad to worse rather quickly.
The film follows Beth Williams (Dani Kind) as she takes her kid Harley to a taping of the show in time for his birthday. Also in tow is her 19-year old kid Austin, her somewhat uncaring hubby Mitch, and Harley’s somewhat friend Rebecca. There’s a few others around as well, including a parent that wants nothing more but his kid to get on the show, and a couple that live to do livestreams from the show set.
To go further into the story would kind of ruin it, but, yep, there’s some shades of Freddy’s as the Splits get a mind of their own and start offing members of the audience. And, surprisingly enough, it works. Granted, those who grew up with the characters may feel they’re somewhat ruined here, but considering that they haven’t been relevant in, what, 30 years or so…why not?
Director Danishka Esterhazy keeps the blood flowing creatively, using the show’s set in a number of fun ways. One particular scene has a fun little segment with an obstacle course that ends rather unexpectedly, with a few bloody chuckles to be had. Let’s just say you may think twice about going in a ball pit again.
The writing, however, can be a little cliché. You can see that some of the characters simply deserve to die, like the douchebag husband who makes it clear how douchebaggy he really is, especially when Beth tries to get him involved. It’s a little too evident, even for most horror flicks.
Fortunately, the movie’s fun vibe doesn’t let up. Kudos to Eric Bauza for being a good sport and giving the characters some fun voices to play around with, even as the splatters continue to add up. It does go a little over-the-top at the end, but then it settles back in – and nicely suggests a sequel. Here’s hoping they bring in H.R. Pufnstuf to do some damage the next time around.
The movie doesn’t go down as a classic, but it works surprisingly well considering it’s based upon, well, a kids’ TV show from the 60’s. This could’ve been a disaster in the wrong hands. But it plays out much smoother than expected, with some fun, bloody moments and a great performance from Kind that keeps things afloat, even as everyone cheeses it up around her.
Sure, the story can be flimsy at times; and some characters just ask for it and even defy logic. (If a car chases you down a ravine, can’t you just jump safely onto the sides and watch it coast by…?) But the Banana Splits Movie has a better time with the material than expected. And you can’t do that with everyone. Just ask the Bugaloos. 4/5 Psychotic Wheel Spins.