So, I recently purchased and watched two animatronic themed horror movies. These were The Banana Splits Movie and Willy’s Wonderland. Now, given that both featured similar villains, at least on the surface, I thought it would be a good idea to compare them and see which one was the best. And what better way to do that than to revive the Crunchyroll of the Dice format! That’s right, I’m going to play these two off in… The Battle of the Anarchic Animatronic Assault!
The Banana Splits Movie is a 2019 comedy-horror based on the 1960’ Hannah Barbera kid’s show. The story is a simple one: Harley is a big fan of the aforementioned Splits, and so, his Mum, Dad, step-brother, and classmate accompany him to a live taping of the show. Unfortunately, this taping happens to coincide with the animatronic characters software update malfunctioning, causing them to go haywire when they overhear that the show is being cancelled. The result is bloodshed. A lot of bloodshed. It’s also worth noting that the movie is rumoured to be a repurposing of one of the scripts for the Five Nights At Freddy’s movie. This is due to the film being licensed by Warner Bros – who previously held the FNaF Movie rights – and the seemingly random decision to make the Banana Splits animatronics.
Willy’s Wonderland is a 2021 action comedy horror. It tells the story of a drifter who gets stranded in Nevada after driving his car over a spike strip. With n working cash machines, he is offered the chance to work off the cost of the repairs. The job? Cleaning up the run-down Willy’s Wonderland. Between the kids that break-in and the withered animatronics harbouring murderous intent, things take a large step towards danger for the temporary janitor. Unsurprisingly, this one also had comparisons to the FNaF franchise, though the resemblance is fervently denied by the director and writer.
What this means is we have two films that play into the creepiness of animatronic mascots. But which one is the best? Let’s find out! I will now compare the two films in five categories, with the winner in each receiving two points In the case of a draw, both films will receive one point. The film with the highest total score wins. The categories will be:
BEST STORY: While neither story is a masterpiece, I will say that both were enjoyable. In the case of The Banana Splits, the primary set-up of the animatronics going made after a botched software update is a suitable enough trope. I mean, I used the same thing in the first short story I wrote as a child. It is all pretty basic though, which the characters mostly crossing over simply because they were all at the same venue.
Willy’s Wonderland also uses a well-worn set-up in the form of serial killers and satanic rituals. Where I thought it surpassed the Splits was in the way it managed to tie up why the characters are all there in a more interesting way. There was a proper backstory for the side characters, and their presence felt a little more organic in that way. For that reason, the best story goes to… Willy’s Wonderland.
BEST CAST: Now, this is an interesting category. The Banana Splits Movie actually has a decent cast featuring stars of shows like Schitt’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, and even Ren and Stimpy. The cast in The Banana Splits Movie does a decent job. Honestly, there weren’t any performances that I thought were outright terrible, and they each played their roles well.
Meanwhile, Willy’s Wonderland is primarily marketed as starring Nicolas Cage. The supporting cast is decent, but there’s no doubt that Cage is the real star here. He succeeds in being a badass lead without saying a single word and has more of a cool factor than anyone else in either movie.
The thing that tips this over the edge for one film is the in-suit performances for the animatronics. Neither film does a perfect of maintaining robotic movements in this regard. When they do though, there is a clear difference. The Banana Splits feel a lot cheesier, while the Willy’s Wonderland characters feel more mechanical. For that dash of authenticity, the best cast goes to… Willy’s Wonderland
BEST ANIMATRONIC DESIGNS: Sticking with the robotic foes, this is one of the easiest categories to judge. The Banana Splits look like the Banana Splits. There was never any indication that they were animatronics in the old series, and while the Terminator-esque glimpse we get did look cool, there’s no denying these look like mascot costumes.
The same can be said at times for the creatures in Willy’s Wonderland. The difference is, it doesn’t apply to all of them. In fact, I’d say that they all at least have a touch of the robotic to them. Willy Weasel in particular was excellently designed. For that consistency and overall look, the best animatronic designs goes to… Willy’s Wonderland
BEST SCARES: There isn’t really much to say here. If I’m being honest, either film scared me at all. If viscera creeps you out, the Splits will get you a little. If design work is more likely to freak you out, it’ll be Willy and company. For me though, the best scares goes to… Draw
BEST LAUGHS: Being comedy horrors, there should be a few laughs in both films. The truth is though, I can’t remember a single gag from The Banana Splits Movie. Meanwhile, Willy’s Wonderland did make me laugh a couple of times. Scenes like Nicolas Cage’s Janitor temporarily ducking out of a fight because it was his mandated break time, for example, genuinely made me chuckle. For having a few laugh out loud moments, the best laughs goes to… Willy’s Wonderland.
Final Scores: The Banana Splits Movie – 1, Willy’s Wonderland – 9
And there you have it! There was a clear winner here, and the scores really are fair when you compare the films. I don’t regret watching The Banana Splits Movie, but it simply isn’t as entertaining as Willy’s Wonderland. Nicolas Cage’s performance combined with a strong supporting cast and a more rounded story give it a sizeable advantage. Sure, neither film is a great horror film, but there’s certainly entertainment to be had here!
But those are just my thoughts. Have you seen either film? Do you agree with my category results? Let me know in the comments below!