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An important part of Kings Island’s roots is back. After being mostly absent for more than four decades, the fun-loving furry fictional rock band of the late 1960s and 70s, The Banana Splits, has found its way back to the screen in 2019. This time as murderous robots.
I’m going to let you read that again.
One Banana, Two Banana, Three Banana, Four…
The original live action comedy kids television series directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, ran for 31 episodes on Saturday mornings from 1968 – 1970. The second season featured live action segments filmed at Cincinnati’s Coney Island amusement park. The show’s opening credits featured The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana). Written unofficially by N. B. Winkless, Jr.- the creator of the Rice Krispies “Snap, Crackle, Pop” jingle.
As the show’s creators were looking to create a full-length TV movie for ABC in 1972, Kings Island’s and Hanna-Barbera’s owner, Taft Broadcasting, coordinated filming of Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park at the brand new Kings Island amusement park. It was a perfect fit. The show’s characters were even featured in the park’s most interesting and expensive original ride, the approximately $2 million Enchanted Voyage boat ride, which also starred scenes with other Hanna Barbera characters.
If you are a Kings Island fan, the Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park is absolutely worth watching. You’ll recognize the sound of the background music which is synonymous with other Taft Broadcasting productions of that era including Brady Bunch and Scooby Doo. Plus, you’ll see historic film footage of the park that’s widely different than the shot variety found in The Partridge Family’s I Left My Heart in Cincinnati episode, or The Brady Bunch’s Cincinnati Kid episode. Here’s a sample:
The Terrifying Transformation of The Banana Splits?
Maybe turning the Banana Splits into a horror movie wasn’t too much of a transformation after all.
In Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park, a little girl is lured away from her Hocus Pocus amusement park tour by a red balloon (Stephen King’s It, anyone?) and kidnapped by a witch who wants to turn her into a witch. Okay, take away the fun music and that sounds horrifying.
Then consider that the series had things that every horror writer dreams about, like sunglasses on the main characters to hide their blank and expressionless eyes. Or, puppet-like mouths that unreliably move with the show’s voiceover talent. Add in a comforting character from childhood (a la Chucky in Child’s Play, or the clown doll scene in Poltergeist), and you’ve got yourself the makings of a nightmare.
Now that I think about it, you might consider the show creepy, even by today’s standards.
Fast forward to 2019, and an alternate world where the Banana Splits television show was never cancelled.
The movie’s producer, Blue Ice Pictures describes the Banana Splits Movie with, “(a) boy named Harley and his family attend a taping of The Banana Splits TV show, which is supposed to be a fun-filled birthday for young Harley and business as usual for Rebecca, the producer of the series. But things take an unexpected turn -- and the body count quickly rises. Can Harley, his mom and their new pals safely escape?”
Watch the trailer:
Did you hear that sound? It was William Hanna and Joseph Barbera collectively flipping over in their graves. In Hanna’s memoir, “A Cast of Friends,” he described The Banana Splits as likeable and funny, and “you could tell that (the show’s characters) cared about each other.” They wanted to create feel-good shows, and I’m pretty sure they would have objected to the death by lollipop scene.
At the same time, what else do you do with defunct intellectual property like The Banana Splits that outlived its appeal years ago? You reboot it, of course! While you may not be a fan, there’s something satisfying about seeing the Banana Splits re-imagined in a way that only Hollywood could do.
If you’re looking for a cheesy horror movie to watch this Thursday night after the kids have gone to bed and trick-or-treating is over, this might be the one for you. The Banana Splits Movie is available for rental on Amazon Prime Video, or if you have the SyFy channel check your local listings and DVR it.
Do you remember the Banana Splits show, or the ABC movie filmed at Kings Island? Were you at the park when they filmed it, or do you remember their scene in the Enchanted Voyage? Let us know in the comments section below.
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