Before this review can even begin, it needs to be stated that Rob Zombie made a Munsters movie with no Drag-U-La. He included the origin of Herman, how he met Lily, how the Munster clan moved to America from Transylvania, and even the origin of Spot, Eddie’s dragon that lives under the staircase, but no Drag-U-La. In a Munsters movie made by Sir Robert Frickin’ Zombie, a man who has said time and time again that he is a die-hard fan of the show, this somehow feels like blasphemy. It’s also the title of one of his most popular songs, so it really doesn’t make sense. Sadly, it’s par for the course in this technicolor outing, which is more of an assault on the eyes than an attack on the funny bone.
Fueled by dad jokes and a love for the original series, Zombie’s The Munsters is a prequel made in homage to the original series. But like Frankenstein’s monster, it was built by a madman who created it because he could, and never stopped to think if he should.
Debuting in 1964, the original Munsters starred Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis, and Yvonne DeCarlo as a family of classic Universal monsters living an average life in an average American town. Though the outside world saw them as creatures of the night, they perceived themselves as an All-American family, thereby giving them a wholesome charm and wit that allowed the clan to persevere through the decades in syndication.
After its initial run, many have tried their hand at remaking the Munsters, from Munsters Today in 1988 to Bryan Fuller’s Mockingbird Lane in 2012. And now there’s Zombie’s take.
Starring Mrs. Zombie aka Sherie Moon as Lily, Jeff Daniels Phillips as Herman, and Daniel Roebuck as The Count (not yet Grandpa as the movie predates Eddie and Marilyn), the movie follows the love story between Herman and Lily. There are other small subplots involving Herman’s creator Dr. Henry Augustus Wolfgang (Richard Brake) and Lily’s brother Lester (Tomas Boykin), but those just fall by the wayside without a second thought. In fact, most of the plots, jokes, and characters fall apart quickly here, so pay them no mind. They only serve to confuse and distract.
Zombie has proven he’s got talent, especially when it comes to creating horrific gore that can traumatize even die-hard horrorhounds, but comedy is clearly not his forte. With creature puns and Spirit Store camp and costume, the film attempts to recapture the charm of the original series but falls flat as it struggles to update the “jokes” for a modern audience.
There are moments where it feels like a kooky Halloween special from the ‘60s, but these die a painful death when the writing turns on itself with modern lingo. It’s hard to tell who this Munsters is for. It is not for fans of the original TV show, as their interests were clearly not taken to heart. Nor is it for fans of Universal monsters, or Halloween specials. Clearly this film was made just for Rob Zombie, his fans, and his inner circle.
Phillips and Roebuck strive to recapture the charm of the original Herman and Count/Grandpa. And Sheri is doing her best. But does anyone need to to see Grandpa leer over nudie pics in a Playghoul magazine? At one point, Grandpa says, “I can actually feel my braincells dying…” Yep. Same.
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