Review: THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE (2019)

Now, this is an oddity. A mostly forgotten kids show that ran on Saturday morning for a couple of years, and in syndication for several more after that has been resurrected. As a horror movie. I vaguely remember the syndicated re-runs on Boston’s Channel 56 airing right before reruns of The Monkees. But it’s no joke. The Banana Splits Movie gives the old show the Five Nights At Freddy’s treatment and attempts to turn nostalgia into nightmares.

Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) is a youngster obsessed with The Banana Splits show. For his birthday his mother Beth (Dani Kind, Wynonna Earp) gets tickets to the show for him, reluctant friend Zoe (Maria Nash, Polar), his half brother Austin (Romeo Carere, Pyewacket ) and father Mitch (Steve Lund).

Little do they know this is to be the last episode as newly promoted Andy (Daniel Fox) has decided to cancel the show. It would be the last episode anyways as the software update for the animatronic figures is about to go horribly wrong. As this is happening, Austin convinces audience wrangler Paige (Naledi Majola) to let them backstage.

I was worried The Banana Splits Movie would be kid-friendly or at least watered down. Writers Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas credits are mostly kids shows and MTV’s My Super Psycho Sweet 16. Not very promising. But they have written an actual horror film and a fairly nasty one at that. People are set on fire, sawed in half, decapitated, you get the idea. The SyFy airing of this will need some serious trimming.

Director Danishka Esterhazy (Level 16, The Trials of Rasputin) is another odd choice but she delivers despite being well removed from her usual, more serious, style. Here she cranks it all up to 11 and lets Kind look every bit the hot Mom while she unleashes her inner Ripley defending her kids from the rampaging robots.

Esterhazy also makes the most out of The Banana Splits Movie’s subplots involving pushy stage dads and Instagram influencers to pump up the body count and keep the blood flowing. There’s never time for the movie to drag, something is constantly happening, and it’s usually bloody.

While it’s never overly scary, The Banana Splits Movie is a fun romp. It’s the perfect antidote to all the more serious films such as Midsommar out there.

The Banana Splits Movie is available digitally from Warner Home Entertainment and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD August 27th. It will air later this year on SyFy.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy

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