The Munsters

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Comedy;
$19.98 DVD, $22.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG’ for macabre and suggestive material, scary images and language.
Stars Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Daniel Roebuck, Richard Brake, Jorge Garcia, Sylvester McCoy, Catherine Schell, Cassandra Peterson, Tomas Boykin.

Dick Dale surfer twang meets gothic horror in writer-director Rob Zombie’s The Munsters, which essentially serves as a prequel to the classic 1960s sitcom of the same name.

There isn’t much of a story to speak of beyond the connective tissue of plot threads that lead the characters into where they are on the 1964-66 series. In that sense, it works better as a nostalgia factory than a coherent film, though it is quite fascinating to watch with its broad performances, bright colors and neon sets.

Among the most notable story points we get to see is the creation of Herman Munster (Jeff Daniel Phillips), the affable Frankenstein’s Monster-esque head of the family on the show. Among the film’s best gags is that his creator wanted to steal the brain of a brilliant astrophysicist, but his dimwitted assistant instead stole the brain of the scientist’s brother, a wannabe comedian.

Herman’s bad jokes and naivete end up catching the eye of lovelorn Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie), who falls instantly in love with him, much to the chagrin of her father, the Count (Daniel Roebuck). After a whirlwind courtship, Herman and Lily are soon married, but find themselves on the bad end of financial improprieties by Lily’s wolfman brother, Lester. So Herman, Lily and the Count (who is yet to be “Grandpa” as he’s called on the show) head to Hollywood in search of fame and fortune.

The film plays more like Zombie’s homage to the same classic horror movies that influenced the “Munsters” TV series to begin with, through the filter of his hard rock sensibilities. Among some of the fun horror history references, one of Lily’s early suitors turns out to be Count Orlock, the Dracula ripoff from 1922’s Nosferatu.

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The Blu-ray includes an interesting hour-long behind-the-scenes featurette that presents the making of the film through on-set footage showing makeup tests and the shooting of certain scenes, giving some perspective on the creative intent of the film.

Also included is an insightful commentary track with Rob Zombie, who discusses the challenges of filming abroad during COVID, as well as making a “Munsters” film that honored franchise lore without being a retread of the TV show.

‘Getting Grace’ Is a Family Affair for Director

Getting Grace is not only a family film, but for director Daniel Roebuck (who also stars) it’s also a family affair — starting with the title character.

The film, due on DVD Nov. 6 from Random Media, follows Grace, a teenage girl dying of cancer who crashes a funeral home to find out what will happen to her after she dies. Along the way, Grace ends up teaching the awkward funeral director, Bill (Roebuck), how to celebrate life. Not only did Roebuck star in and direct the movie — his feature film directorial debut — but he helped rewrite the script by Jeff Lewis, infusing it with his own experience.

“Grace, as written, is my daughter Grace, who’s never been sick, thank God, but the personality of the kid is my daughter,” said Roebuck, whose face will be familiar to audiences from his long acting career. “My daughter, I watch how she interacts with the world. Sometimes people are a little bit afraid of her, but she always wins them over.”

He lifted an actual incident about his daughter for some dialog in the film about parent teacher conferences and how some teachers found her a pleasure and some hard to teach.

“My actual ex-wife said, ‘Some people get Grace and others never will,’” Roebuck says, noting the same line is recited by Grace’s mother Venus in the film. “That’s how it became Getting Grace.”

Roebuck’s daughter, who wants to be a filmmaker, was a production assistant on the film. But she’s not the only family member involved in the project. Roebuck’s son Buster plays him in a flashback in the film, his wife is one of the producers, his father appears in the movie, his mother’s voice is in the movie, and his brother in law, Cory Geryak, an experienced director of photography, shot the film.

Roebuck also angled his way into shooting Getting Grace in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pa. Bethlehem, founded in the colonial era, took a hit after the collapse of the steel industry, but the city has been able to remake itself as an art hub with such events as Musikfest.

“I just liked that Bill, the character that I played, was old-fashioned in the story and he had to change,” Roebuck said. “I thought that Bethlehem would be the perfect backdrop.”

One scene in the film was shot in “the oldest continually operating book shop in America” located in the city, Roebuck noted.

Roebuck also looked outside Hollywood for his cast.

“Those kids, not one of them had ever been in a movie, and a few of the adults had never been in a movie,” he said.

That includes the titular character played by newcomer Madelyn Dundon.

“She’s terrific,” he said. “She’s a force of nature. She’s something else that kid.”

The film has been well-received by audiences, including those in his hometown, Roebuck said, noting that it elicits big laughs (it’s a comedy after all) and has also inspired people, with at least one viewer saying it helped him handle a cancer diagnosis.

The film, of course, is about getting grace in more than one sense.

“It’s an allegory for God’s grace. That’s what it is to me,” Roebuck said. “I wanted it to represent something greater, which is that God’s grace is available to all of us whether we recognize it or not.”

Special features on the DVD include “Making Grace,” a behind the scenes featurette in which Roebuck looks back on the casting and filming of Getting Grace in his hometown, including interviews with the cast and select cast auditions; Getting Grace Lehigh Valley charity premieres, featuring the cast at three premieres benefitting local charities; commentary from Roebuck; a deleted scene; and the theatrical trailer.

Family Film ‘Getting Grace’ Due on DVD Nov. 6 From Random Media

The family film Getting Grace will come out on DVD Nov. 6 from Random Media.

Directed by Daniel Roebuck, the film follows Grace (newcomer Madelyn Dundon), a teenage girl dying of cancer who crashes a funeral home to find out what will happen to her after she dies. Instead, Grace ends up teaching the awkward funeral director, Bill (Roebuck), how to celebrate life.

Getting Grace also stars Marsha Dietlein Bennett, Dana Ashbroo, Duane Whitaker, Alexa McFillin and Diane Wagner.

The film won four Northeast Film Festival awards, including  Best Feature, Best Director, Best Actress and Audience Choice.

Special features include “Making Grace,” a behind the scenes featurette in which Roebuck looks back on the casting and filming of Getting Grace in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pa., including interviews with the cast and select cast auditions; Getting Grace Lehigh Valley charity premieres, featuring the cast at three premieres benefitting local charities; commentary from Roebuck; a deleted scene; and the theatrical trailer.