When I first heard that they were making a horror movie based on the 60’s kids show The Banana Splits my thoughts on it were, well, split. It could either be campy fun, or nostalgic schlock. Being the reluctant optimist I am, I was hoping more toward the campy fun category. Luckily, those hopes of mine paid off, because The Banana Splits is a gleefully gory good time.

So, what’s this bloody blast from the past about exactly? Well, it’s young Harley’s (Finlay Wotjak-Hissong) birthday and his mother, Beth (Dani Kind) gets him tickets to see a live taping of The Banana Splits. Along for the trip are stepped dad and resident jerk Mitch (Steve Lund), the surprisingly caring brother Austin (Romeo Carere) and Zoe (Maria Nash), the only other kid who really just doesn’t want to be there. There are a few other secondary characters too, most of which we get little time to know before they get sliced and diced. We’ve got the studio paige Paige (Naledi Majola), the sleazy burnt-out actor Stevie (Richard White), a couple who are adult fanatics of the show Thadd (Kiroshan Naidoo) and Poppy (Celina Martin), mad scientist Karl (Lionel Newton), the stage manager Rebecca (Sara Canning), and finally Jonathan (Keeno Lee Hector) a father who is basically trying to auction off his daughter Parker (Lia Sachs) as a child actor to the studio.

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“It’s not so-bad-it’s-good, it’s just flat out good”


Things are going all fine and dandy, that is until The Splits learn that their show is getting the ax and they go haywire. By the way, and I can’t believe I didn’t already mention this, The Splits are robots. Yes, robots, and some very comically sadistic ones at that. Now that the show has taken a turn for the literal worst, our protagonists have to find a way to escape the studio before they find themselves in pieces.

Now I know a lot of people out there are thinking that this sounds a lot like the survival horror game franchise Five Nights at Freddy’s, and to be fair, there are quite a few similarities. However, there is one main difference between the two. Five Nights at Freddy’s, with all its lore and everything, asks you to take it seriously while The Banana Splits does not even in the slightest. This is the type of movie where a guy gets an oversized lollipop shoved down his throat until his insides break and he starts gushing blood from his mouth like a water fountain, and it is so fun!


banana splits


What really works well with this movie are The Splits themselves. They may be robots just following an internal directive to keep the show going on, but they are clearly having a lot of fun. Not a single kill in this movie feels basic, they’re all creative and surprising. Not just that, but they straight up torture these people. but not in the Saw (2004type of way. It’s more in the way of… well- do you remember those kids shows where kids would have to complete obstacle courses to get a prize? Shows like Legends of the Hidden Temple (1993)? Well the torture is like that, but with the prize at the end being a comically brutal death. Which isn’t really much of a prize for the contestants, for the audience though, it very much is.

Hot at the Shop:

Hot at the Shop:

The Splits are also pretty intimidating in their own right. Whenever they come on screen, even on just the show, there’s this sinister overtone that hovers over them. You’re never sure if they’re going to do something funny, something violent, or something violently funny. It’s really a testament to how well director Danishka Esterhazy handles directing the movie. This is by no means a scary movie, and it’s not trying to be, but it does have some really well done moments of tension. There’s part of the movie where one of The Splits is chasing down a character in his little yellow car, and it’s done like it’s a scene straight out of John Carpenter’s Christine (1983).


“You’re never sure if they’re going to do something funny, something violent, or something violently funny.”


None of anything in The Banana Splits feels cheap either. Everything this movie does feels genuinely like it all exists to make the audience have a good time. The movie knows exactly what it wants to be, exactly what we expect it to be, and it delivers on all fronts. It’s not so-bad-it’s-good, it’s just flat out good. The other thing I dug was how the movie handles the brother character, Austin. I expected him to be one of those apathetic mean big brother types, but he turned out to be the exact opposite. Austin wants nothing more than for his brother to have a good birthday and for his mom to be happy, and I really liked that.

If I had to make one criticism though, it’d be some of the acting. Some of the performances, mainly by the disposable side characters, feels stiff. At times, it feels like they’re reading off the lines of the script rather than performing them. It’s not a huge problem but was for sure something I noticed. Some stiff performances aside, The Banana Splits is pretty darn great. It gives the audience what they want, and puts fun over everything else without skimping on character. If you’re looking for a new horror movie to watch with your friends while you collectively cringe and cheer at all the creative deaths, check this one out. Although, if I hear that tra la la la theme of The Splits one more time, I might actually split in half myself.

Are you planning to manically laugh your way through The Banana Splits? Have you already experienced the gory glory? Let us know what you think on Twitter, The Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook, and in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit!