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SDCC 2019: Banana Splits Movie writers spill on how you make a kids' show terrifying

By Josh Weiss
The Banana Splits Movie

Hiya, kids! Today's episode is brought you by the letter "M" for ... [dramatic music]... Murder.

Blue Ribbon Content and SYFY revamped The Banana Splits at this year's San Diego Comic Con with a special panel moderated by our very own Mike Avila. Based on the beloved '60s-era cartoon created by Hanna-Barbera, the live-action Banana Splits Movie puts a horrific spin on the colorfully classic characters by having them go berserk and butcher anyone unlucky enough to come across them. Co-writer Scott Thomas talked about how it was really just a matter of changing up the soundtrack to turn a kid-friendly property into an all-out festival of suspense and terror.

“If you took scary music and put it over an episode of Barney, it’s [pretty terrifying]," he said.  “When everything goes wrong, it becomes this sinister, dark thing.”

“It’s not meant to be funny... but if it is funny, it's because it’s absurd," added Thomas' fellow screenwriter, Jed Elinoff.

Blue Ribbon's Peter Girardi, a major fan of the franchise who had attempted to reboot it several times in the past, came to realize that turning these warm and cuddly mascots into horror icons was pretty much a no-brainer.

"The more we looked at it, the more I started to think, ‘They’re creepy!’" he said.

Banana Splits SDCC 2019

Set in a world where the series was never canceled, The Banana Splits has become an insanely popular multi-camera kids' show with a live studio audience. When producer Rebecca (Sara Canning) learns that the show is being canceled by a new network big shot with grand plans for "cool and edgy" programming, her main characters (Chuck E. Cheese-esque androids) set off on a gruesome killing spree.

"[It's] visceral and gritty," Canning explained, going on to talk about how the movie's look is split up between the eye-popping TV sets and the more dreary and dingy backstage areas where a Banana Split may be waiting to (and excuse the pun) split you in half. Similarly, Thomas made mention of how those aforementioned sets (he compared one to Nick's Double Dare), once so fun and exciting, become blood-soaked and deadly as the tone eventually shifts for the darker.

The main robotic maniacs — Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky (all voiced by Eric Bauza) — showed up at the very end to close out the panel. They were originally voiced by Paul Winchell, to whom Bauza paid loving homage.

“I think he [was] like the human equivalent of bagpipes," he said. “He was one of the greats and irreplaceable, but what an honor it was to be asked to [be a part of this]... I love horror movies... I couldn’t say no.”

Directed by Danishka Esterhazy, The Banana Splits Movie arrives on digital Aug. 13. The DVD and Blu-ray go on sale Aug. 27. The film airs October 12 at 9/8c on SYFY.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of SDCC 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.