Horror goes through ebbs and flows, with it riding trends perhaps more so than any other genre. For a strong period, slasher films were all the rage, before found footage became the staple, and in the late 2010s “elevated” horror came along. Now, the new one is “imagine a children’s property, then make it horror”.
The trendsetter for this slightly creatively bankrupt subgenre is 2019’s The Banana Splits Movie. Taking the famous Hanna-Barbera variety show The Banana Splits from 1968 and twisting it into a splatterfest massacre, it is undoubtedly the film to blame or thank for the likes of Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, as well as the unauthorized Grinch parody The Mean One.
While it set up a trend for the industry, it was far from original itself. Lambasted at the time for almost certainly ripping off elements of online sensation Five Nights at Freddy’s, it did manage to escape much disdain thanks to its actual quality. Directed by Canadian filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy, she has made a name for herself in Canuck horror discussion thanks to this film and several others.
The cast are not particularly well-known, unless you’re very familiar with Hallmark movies. Dani Kind plays the lead, while five-time star of Schitt’s Creek Steve Lund is the only other name of note in the cast. Despite this, both give excellent performances in a knowingly ridiculous movie.
The film follows the now slightly tired trope of animatronics coming to life and killing people, which feels so overdone just three years later it’s astonishing people remember it fondly still. A very similar film was produced very recently in Willy’s Wonderland with Nicolas Cage, though without half the charisma of The Banana Splits.
Whether or not we should be thankful of this new trope is hard to say so far. Once Blood and Honey hits cinemas, we’ll learn if this is actually worth becoming its own subgenre. The Banana Splits Movie is available to stream for free on Fubo.