By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
* Spoiler Alert
Home Video Release
August 27, 2019
Scheduled to air on Syfy channel on September 21, 2019.
Childhoods will certainly be ruined for anyone who grew up watching The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (TV Series (1968–1970) and have no intro before seeing the new movie. Every adorable aspect we loved from the classic is turned upside down in the 2019 film which reimagines the beloved bubblegum pop band variety show as heavy metal horror mayhem. I wondered what’d this film would be like if the Arabian Nights popped into existence to save the day….
Newcomers won’t be as affected, but I can’t buy into the thought robots are inside the suits which made the anthropomorphic band come alive. Fleegle (guitar, vocals), Bingo (drums, vocals), Drooper (bass, vocals) and Snorky (keyboards, effects) looked a bit gaunt when the real production had actors in huge body costumes and voice over veterans provided the goofy voices.
While I’m open minded enough to see how this slasher film can reinterpret the beloved program, I’m sure show creators Sid and Marty Krofft are rolling in their graves. The original performers who played the characters–Daws Butler (Bingo) and Paul Winchell (Fleegle)–whom I have great respect for–certainly wouldn’t approve. The idea of ‘bots infected with malicious code and going renegade is nothing new. Their intent is justified when it activates when word of their shows cancellation spreads amongst staff before a live taping of the show.
One big fan is Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong), a young boy who tries to survive the mayhem. His belief in the Banana Splits as good is the only redeeming aspect to a tale about animals (robots) going wild. Mother Beth (Dani Kind) and step-father Mitch (Steve Lund) should be glad. Half-brother Austin (Romeo Carere) and friend Zoe (Maria Mash) should also be happy as it’s rare for an entire clan to survive a horror film.
I was hoping for some satire, and the idea of why the show got cancelled missed the boat. If only could more was done to poke fun at the television industry than to have victims run around in a nearly empty studio lot. More could have been done with Andy (Daniel Fox), the vice president of programming responsible for axing the show, but it’s not always easy to demonize this world. The final product ends up being a Terminator movie. Some remarks have been made about how similar it is to the video game Five Nights at Freddy’s. The whole idea is to literally give new meaning to “splitting” people apart in more ways than one; at least the gore delivers.
Thadd (Kiroshan Naidoo) and Poppy (Celina Martin) are also rabid fans and the insanity sends the girl over the edge. She’s ready to become Rita Repulsa from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and runs away with the what’s left of the cuddly Splits in tow. If by some miracle a sequel is made, I’d love to see how this character develops. Despite having my childhood ruined, the J-horror enthusiast in me is piqued and wants to see where a sequel can go.
3½ Stars out of 5