Think of a classic children’s television show from yesteryear. Now imagine what it would be like if said show was reworked into a horror movie.
Now imagine if that reworked movie featured Fleegle, Drooper, Snorky and Bingo – the lead stars of the 1968 television show, The Banana Splits. Now stop imagining, because the film exists and it is the 2019 horror flick, The Banana Splits Movie.
Yes, you read that correctly, the once beloved children’s TV show about a fictional rock band, has been reimagined for a new generation. And as far as the director, producers, and studio are concerned, this generation has no time for psychedelic tomfoolery and colourful characters, there is only time for blood, guts, and the occasional moment of black comedy.
Directed by Danishka Esterhazy, The Banana Splits Movie is a dark take on the Hanna-Barbera characters you and your parents (or maybe even your grandparents) grew up on. Gone is the trippy fun and frolics of the show, and in its place is a macabre tale about malfunctioning robots.
In the movie, Fleegle, Drooper, Snorky and Bingo, are animatronic creations and the stars of a hit television show, not too dissimilar to the series that aired in the real world back in 1968. However, unlike the real world where The Banana Splits only ran for two seasons, here the show is still on the air entertaining kids in 2019.
But when the show gets cancelled, the Splits don’t take it too well and the once obedient robots become sentient. The fearsome foursome then goes on a murderous rampage, killing anyone who crosses their path in increasingly humorous ways.
Bizarre? Yes. Unexpected? Kind of.
What I find surprising about The Banana Splits Movie is the fact that Warner Bros. signed off on this premise. Sure, this isn’t the first time classic Hanna-Barbera characters have been reimagined in a brutal way – DC Comics’ Scooby Apocalypse and Wacky Race Land were also dark reworkings of H-B properties – but this is the first movie to take this track.
On the one hand, if you’re going to test the waters, then you might as well do it with a 50-year old show rather than something more current. On the other hand, do audiences of today care enough about the Banana Splits to justify using these characters in this way?
Here lies the rub and the biggest question I have about this whole project: Who is this film aimed at? Having watched all 89 minutes of it, I really have no idea.
I guess the important question though is, does it work? The answer is yes, in part it does work. This is mostly because the idea of the Splits turning into sinister killers doesn’t seem that far-fetched.
Regardless of whether you were a fan of the original series or not, the Banana Splits always did seem a little creepy. The characters looked like something conjured up during an acid-induced nightmare, so turning them into horror icons isn’t too much of a stretch.
And the Splits are the meat of this movie, because when they are allowed to let loose the film really hits its stride. Sure, the characters could have done with a little more personality but they make the film enjoyable, and when they are on screen the film has its best moments.
Where The Banana Splits Movie falls down is pretty much in everything else. The cast of characters (i.e. the victims) are not particularly interesting, the direction is largely uninspiring, and the story is too simplistic.
OK, so I wasn’t expecting a complex narrative, but I was expecting something a little more involving. The basic premise of the Splits going crazy and killing people is more or less the full extent of the movie, and yet there could have been something more here. Heck, even the setting could have been tweaked. Why was this film not a creepy period piece, set during the late ‘60s or early ‘70s?
For me, The Banana Splits Movie has a lot of potential, but it just doesn’t push itself enough. And while there are shades of Killer Klowns from Out of Space (1988) and Chopping Mall (1986), two classic horror films which I really like, The Banana Splits Movie is nowhere near as good.
Not bad, but nothing special. This is middle-of-the-road stuff which doesn’t really enhance the Splits brand, but it doesn’t embarrass it either.
If you happen to be a long-time fan of The Banana Splits, you love slightly under developed horror movies, and you’re into low budget special effects, then this movie is for you. For everyone else, just stick on an old episode of the show and get freaked out whenever Bingo flashes his teeth.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by It’s A Stampede! to read this review for The Banana Splits Movie. For more content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.
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