Rob Zombie’s THE MUNSTERS serves as a prequel to the classic TV sitcom that originally aired in 1964. Set for the most part in Transylvania, it chronicles how lumbering monster Herman and vampish Lily meet and fall in love, to the ire of Lily’s undead father, The Count.
This movie is a very different beast from the series it’s based on. For a start, whereas the original show was broadcast in black and white, this is filmed in retina-scorching colour. Actually, there is waaaay too much colour, the screen awash with vivid greens and purples. Zombie said that his intention was to have the movie resemble a live action cartoon, but it ends up looking garish.
Also, many of the laughs from the original series came from the fact that a family of monsters was living in America, and what happened when these two very different worlds collided. But here, in the Transylvania of this movie, everyone is a ghoul, so the Munsters don’t really stand out at all.
The biggest departure from the original show, however, is the character of Herman. In the series he was a dimwitted but big hearted family man, completely devoted to wife Lily and their son Eddie. But here he’s a fast-talking, wisecracking hep cat with the stolen brain of a stand-up comedian. Instead of being disarming he’s swaggering and a little bit arrogant, while still being dimwitted. Frankly, he’s just not as loveable.
Sheri Moon Zombie does a great job in the role of Lily and certainly looks the part, but best of the trio is Daniel Roebuck as The Count (aka Grandpa). His performance sails pretty close to that of original cast member Al Lewis.
A large part of the charm of the original show was that this family of monsters from Transylvania was living in suburban America completely oblivious to the fact that they were different. It just never seemed to occur to them. And despite their ghoulish origins, they were as loving and morally sure as any of their neighbours. It was actually quite a beautiful message when you think about it, because inside, where it really counts, the Munsters were in reality no different from their neighbours. But, in Zombie’s movie, when the titular family finally make it to the US and see their neighbours for the first time (devoid of their Halloween costumes), they’re horrified. It just doesn’t work.
But on the plus side, there are a few genuine laughs to be had, some good performances and some fun cameos (such as Cassandra Peterson – none other than Elvira, Mistress of the Dark herself). Also, I loved the fact that the family’s fiery pet Spot was afforded an appearance.
I watched this movie on Halloween night really wanting to enjoy it, but it had way too many flaws. Sorry, Rob. I tried.
My girlfriend’s review:
I thought it was brilliant!