The Banana Splits Movie (Movie Review)

Last Updated on August 2, 2021


PLOT: On young Harley's birthday, his mother, brother and evil stepfather decide to take him to a recording of his favorite TV show: The Banana Splits, a musical-variety show populated by large animatronic animals. Unbeknownst to Harley's family and the rest of the audience, The Banana Splits has just been cancelled and this is their last show. But the fluffy robots aren't going down without a fight and proceed to terrorize adults and children alike.

REVIEW: Now that we've explored just about every horror movie bad guy possibility, the genre must go to extremes to come up with new and unusual antagonists to pique the interests of those who've seen it all. That's how we've come to this: The next major villains in torture porn might be a comedy troupe of oversized animals from the 60s. That's more or less the thinking behind THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE, a strange and intermittently amusing creation that, while not exactly reinventing the wheel, offers up a handful of memorable monsters that make the otherwise routine bloodshed on hand watchable.

For those of you not in the know (and I'll admit I was only barely aware of this legacy myself), the Banana Splits were on television for a brief while in the late 60s; a variety show produced by Hannah-Barbera comprised of four large instrument playing animals: Fleegle, Drooper, Snorky and and Bingo. Naturally, just guys in animal suits, but in this re-imagining (and that term really does apply in this case), the jovial singing-and-dancing characters are robots created by an oddball scientist. When we meet them, they're as benign and emotionless as can be, but one day the scientist inadvertently plants an idea into their heads – "The show must go on!" that triggers something within them. So when these oversized bots get wind that a crass studio executive is cancelling the show, their first instinct is to just kill everyone.

Though the premise is goofy and the follow-through suitably tongue-in-cheek in the early going, things get darker as the film goes on. A couple of gruesome deaths that would be at home in a SAW film really change things up and should satisfy the gorehounds, but you might say the film has some tonal problems as it reaches its climax, not quite able to decide if it's really going full bore into straight-horror territory. Of course, it's hard to take things too seriously when it's a big smiling dog doing the slicing and dicing, and any real scares will only be felt by small kids who've wandered into this movie unassumingly.

The structure of the film is more or less lifted from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, although here it's the kids who are sweet and the adults are, for the most part, depicted as vain, selfish jerks who deserve their fates. You've got the aforementioned studio exec, a whiny producer, a couple of wannabe Instagram stars, a stage dad trying to force his daughter into an audition, and our lead kid Harley's self-important step-father. (His mom and older brother are nice, as is a helpful studio page.) The kids are likable enough and the adults, unappealing as they are, are all played fairly well – the most memorable being Richard White as Stevie, the Banana Splits' disgruntled human co-star. Truth be told, most of the cast is fairly forgettable, but in a movie like this you're here for the red stuff and the silly-looking stuffed animals that spill it.

The end of the movie (not really a spoiler) leaves room open for a sequel, though it's hard to see how much more can be done with this premise. This is the definition of a one-joke movie, and the joke wears thin by the time this one is over, so it's doubtful it will be novel a second time. (Maybe the Banana Splits square off against H.R. Pufnstuf.) As it stands, THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE is passable entertainment, an 89-minute bunch of nonsense that some might deem a guilty pleasure. I didn't feel guilty for the handful of times I smiled during the thing, but I can't say I'm enthusiastic about revisiting it any time soon.

THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE is currently available on Blu-ray and VOD.

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.