Who here remembers The Banana Splits? You know, those strange-looking human-sized animals who formed a rock band kind of like The Monkees in foam, fur and rubber. To me, The Banana Splits were always decidedly creepy, with each character carrying a whiff of psychosis. Therefore, when Warner Brothers announced a Banana Splits Movie, I initially thought we would be offered a shrink-wrapped nostalgia piece of disturbing childhood memories. However, what we got instead was far more delightful. Here our furry friends become deranged robot killers, slowly wiping out their nostalgia-loving audience with glee, in what can only be described as a brave, inventive and gore-soaked return of the late sixties TV show.
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In an alternate present-day where The Banana Splits continue to dominate the TV schedules, young Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) is one of their biggest fans. Therefore, for his birthday, his mum Beth (Dani Kind) arranges a special surprise, a visit to the Banana Splits live recording. Harley is delighted, but his dad Mitch (Steve Lund) is less than enthused, as is his hormonal teenage brother Austin (Romeo Carere). But with a young school friend in tow, the family arrives at the studios for his birthday treat, unaware that this will be the final ever Banana Splits show as the singing and dancing robots bow out with a bloody spectacular.
Mixing elements of Child’s Play with Westworld, director Danishka Esterhazy creates a deliciously dark nostalgia-fest where Children’s TV becomes a nightmare of epic proportions for an audience of fans, young and old. But the real bravery and creativity come from the decision to subvert The Banana Splits legacy – something viewers will either lap up or struggle to accept as their childhood memories turn to horror.
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