A boy named Harley and his family attend a taping of The Banana Splits TV show, which is supposed to be a fun-filled birthday for young Harley and business as usual for Rebecca, the producer of the series. But things take an unexpected turn - and the body count quickly rises. Can Harley, his mom and their new pals safely escape?
I have seen a lot of horror movies over the years with many different premises. It is very rare to get a brand-new idea for any movie, let alone a horror film. Yet The Banana Splits Movie did just that by adapting a children’s show from the 1960s into a horror-comedy. Conceptually, it is such a strange idea. Not Sharknado strange or WTF-did-I-just-watch strange, but just strange. How many people today still remember the original Banana Splits show? It has been almost 50 years since it went off the air. But that is part of why this movie works too. It is not like anyone else is doing anything with this franchise.
The Splits themselves are dated enough that modern viewers may not even realize this was once a real children’s show. I myself would not have realized that if a few reviews I read had not mentioned as much. So, in this version, the titular Banana Splits are animatronics instead of people in costumes. I know what you are thinking, we are all thinking it: Five Nights at Freddy’s. Maybe there is a connection there, maybe not. No one who worked on this film has confirmed or denied that.
There were two areas where this movie suffered. Unfortunately, they were big ones. The first was the lack of humor. Despite being labeled a horror-comedy, there was not much comedy here. Aside from the concept of children’s show characters going on a murder spree, there is no real attempt at humor. It felt like they were trying to pull off a low-key style of humor but just fumbled the ball. The other thing was the acting. Considering the horrific life-or-death situation, the characters did not seem very afraid outside of their death sequences. The actors seemed to really try when they were about to be knocked off, but there was no general sense of fear.
Ultimately, The Banana Splits movie was just another mediocre horror film. If you, like me, enjoy mediocre horror films, then this is for you. But it is not a film likely to appeal to a wider audience. When you boil it down, this is a low-budget slasher. The bad guys are just robots instead of people. Maybe it is different for people who watched the original Banana Splits show, but considering it is a 50-year old program there are probably not many people still around who fit into that category.