October 8, 2022
$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.
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.