Kids’ TV programmes from the past might as well come from a different dimension. When I was a kid, there was a show about a man-sized yellow cone called Wizbit starring the late magician Paul Daniels and his wife, Debbie McGee, set in some magic-obsessed circle of hell called Puzzleopolis. Though it predated Harry Potter by some years, here was a sentient, neon sorting hat with Ronald McDonald arms and a body shape seemingly based on those conical playground roundabouts that maimed kids in the ‘70s.
It was part of a trend of failed-actor-in-hideous-costume kids’ TV that, arguably, began in the States in the ‘60s, when TV creatives Sid and Marty Krofft made The Banana Splits for Hanna-Barbera. You’ll no doubt associate the latter with such cartoon masterworks as The Flintstones, a stone-age family with then-modern sensibilities, and The Jetsons, a space-age family with then-modern sensibilities, but this was something new: a live action monstrosity designed to give kids nightmares while they spooned around their Lucky Charms sorting the delicious marshmallow chunks from the yucky nutritious bits.
The Banana Splits were Fleegle (a beagle), Bingo (a gorilla), Drooper (a lion) and Snorky (an elephant), who together formed the titular pop band. In the wake of Beatlemania, pop groups were all the rage on late ’60s kids’ TV, meaning this was the era that gave us The Monkees, The Archies and even The Groovie Goolies, who are best described as what would happen if the Scooby Doo gang found the theme park ghouls and they all had a jam session instead of an unmasking ceremony and intervention from the local constabulary.
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, presumably, was the result of someone looking at a balance sheet, realising that cartoons are expensive to make and wondering if some blokes in costumes might not entertain children just as well. And to some extent, they were onto something, but not this time – the resulting show lasted just two years.
That’s where a new film adaptation comes in, spinning a weird-ass kids’ telly show into a brand new type of horror movie. In it, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour has been cancelled, and the four lolloping pals start to take their revenge on those in the studio, piling up the bodies as they go.
On the one hand, it seems like a bizarre move: The Banana Splits have zero traction with the millennial audience you might expect a film like this to be pitched at, and particularly in Britain where the show hasn’t been seen for years. On the other hand, it looks utterly bonkers and so-bad-it’s-brilliant. Take a look at the trailer below.
It’s particularly interesting as a complete re-imagining of an intellectual property, much in the way the last Child’s Play film gave zero fucks for its original source material. We await the movie in which The Teletubbies show toddlers snuff movies on their stomach TVs, or the Chucklevision reboot in which Paul and Barry convert a basement into a torture dungeon. But not Wizbit: The Movie. Please, god, not that.
Now enjoy funtime punks The Dickies doing the Banana Splits theme before you bog off.