Horror 365, Movie 96: The Banana Splits Movie

One banana, two banana, three banana, four.

Where do I even start with this? A fondly remembered bit of my youth becomes a gory horror movie. That’s deeply sick. It’s twisted. It’s in very poor taste. Yes please, where do I sign? The premise is that those goofy 1968 furballs are a present-day thing. Only they’re not costumed characters; they’re animatronic.

The protagonists are Harley, his mom Beth, his half-brother Austin, and his friend Zoe. Harley’s favorite show is The Banana Splits, and his favorite character is Snorky. Of course. Cuz Snorky is fucking adorable. Anyway, Beth has scored tickets to a taping of the show for Harley’s birthday. His dirtbag dad, Mitch, presents the tickets to Harley, stealing Beth’s credit.

Off to the show where we meet the other characters, many of whom are awful fuckers who coulda been lifted right out of Willy Wonka’s factory. These include a Toddlers & Tiaras type stage dad, a rat bastard exec, and a drunk actor who hates his animatronic cast mates. There’s also a production manager and Paige The Page. How cute is that?

And now, the plot complications. First of all, this is, surprise, the last taping of the show. The exec gets promoted and decides The Banana Splits are old news, so it’s time to move on. Second, while Drooper gets a software update, some onscreen code turns red making his eyes light up red as well. Jinkies. Yeah yeah, that’s Velma, but they’re both Hanna-Barbera properties, so sue me.

It’s unclear how Drooper’s bad programming manages to affect the other three. It’s equally unclear why the Splits dance around like people onstage but move like stiff, jerky robots offstage. But the whole idea is so goofy, who cares? Just strap in, go for the ride, and bring on the carnage (which is appropriately comic-bookish but still over the top splatteriffic. I gotta admit I laughed a couple times).

And yet, there are some creepy moments to offset the goofiness. I mean, any time you recontextualize childlike stuff and render it even mildly evil or threatening, it becomes instantly unnerving. It’s a little like the whole uncanny valley idea. It’s the basis for Five Nights At Freddy’s for instance (Sidebar: supposedly Warner Brothers wanted Five Nights At Freddy’s, but it had already gone to Blumhouse where is has apparently stalled).

The voice acting is top notch and completely true to the original characters. If Fleegle sounds familiar, it’s because he was first voiced by Paul Winchell on television–the guy who was also Tigger. Eric Bauza does all the voices and is completely true to the original characters (maybe Fleegle is a little Ernie Sabella/Pumbaa-like, but not overly much).

It’s kind of a Child’s Play remake meets Chopping Mall. Tra la la, La la-la la (which is how the song actually goes as opposed to how they do it in the movie, jus’ sayin’).


SKULLS- 8
BODIES
8 onscreen
1 stumbled across
18 offscreen–A pile of adults in a corridor. I couldn’t really/didn’t really wanna count them. I left that due diligence to James A. Janisse over at Dead Meat
For rent on Apple TV+, Google Play, Prime, YouTube, Vudu

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