For better or worse, Rob Zombie feature-length version of The Munsters is just about what you’d think. It’s not so bad as hoped… however it’s not the best. Based on the 1960s-era TV show with the identical title, it retains a lot of the original kitsch and goofiness but with a length that can be exhausting.
An “origin story” of sorts, the film starts when Lily ( Sheri Moon Zombie) meets Herman ( Jeff Daniel Phillips). Lily is still at the Transylvania castle, along with her dad and the Count ( Daniel Roebuck) (who will always be my grandpa for me). She is on an evening out with her boyfriend, Mr Orlock ( Richard Brake), who, unintentionally, is a clone of the vampire of Nosferatu, but he does not cause Lily’s blood to run through her ice-cold veins. In the meantime, a mad scientist doctor.
Wolfgang (also Richard Brake), along with his unlucky assistant Floop ( Jorge Garcia), makes Frankenstein’s monster-looking creature which Floop calls Herman Munster (“Like the cheese”). The creature was thought to be created using one of the minds of the most intelligent man on earth. However, rather, it was made by his brain, created by the dumbest man on earth and his brother Shecky, a horrible stand-up comedian. This is the reason why Herman’s never-ending list of jokes about dads.
However, when Wolfgang presents his creation on television, Lily discovers Herman and is in the first time they meet. She tries to meet him in a club in which Floop attempts to make him into the next big thing in rock. It’s romance at first sight for Herman, and after a brief relationship, they tied the knot. The day before the wedding, however, her troublemaker brother, a wolf (?) identified as Lester ( Thomas Boykin), appears and asks Herman to sign an agreement to the castle to settle his gambling debts with Zoya ( Catherine Schell), the Gypsy who was engaged to the Count.
That’s all there is to it. There isn’t any real conflict. There are no stakes. I have many issues with this “movie.” It just continued to go on. The end was abrupt. It’s the kind of story which you don’t realize that it is devoid of tension or surprises until you’re writing it down when you reach the final scene and realize you’re just explaining what, in the majority of films, is an act one.
“The Munsters could easily last 45 minutes. The film is jammed with unneeded scenes, many of which are too short and poorly cut to form a short story. For instance, there’s an entire scene in which the Count attempts to make an ideal man for Lily if he isn’t a fan of Herman; however, he messes up the spell and ends up being the chimp-man. The entire scene lasts about five minutes, and there is no reward and little point.
The entire Zoya/Lester story seems like it was pushed to justify the reason to explain the reasons for their departure from Transylvania without tangible reward. In all honesty, I’m not sure if Lily ever had any sister Lester in the television show. I’m assuming this was done to establish the idea that she’s got the genetic code to have a baby werewolf if she and Herman later become Eddie; however, it’s not a way to explain the origin of the DNA from a werewolf to be Lester was derived from!
Without focusing on the narrative and the structural elements typically sought-after in films, The Munsters has certain positive things to be said about the film The Munsters. For instance, it’s visually stunning to behold. Every scene is flooded with red, blue-green and purple neon light colours. It’s not subtle, either. The colours are perfect for an extravagant set design, each corner of the scene being stuffed with creepy props and clever signs. It could be unsettling in the hands of anyone else, but somehow Zombie manages to make it all work. Maybe it’s the colours which make the entire thing seem like an illustration book.
I discovered Sheri Moon Zombie’s character in the role of Lily to be a good actress Sheri Moon Zombie was fine; nothing extraordinary; however, she was not bad. Daniel Roebuck was equally good as the Count. He was not as jolly as the TV’s Grandpa. The standout, however, for me, was Jeff Daniel Phillips as Herman. He was just as funny and wacky in the same way as Herman I had grown up watching on TV. He also made dad jokes that caused me to laugh out loud.
It was the ideal Herman Munster. A special mention must go to horror royalty Cassandra Peterson, who was hilarious as the Munster’s realtor, and Dee Wallace, a part-time announcer for TV. The original Munsters star Butch Patrick (who was the character Eddie) and Pat Priest (who was Marilyn) also had voiceover appearances in the movie.
In the end, The Munsters is not a great film. However, it’s a great film to use at the back of the Halloween celebration. It’s best used as a visual asset. One that you could only wish to watch a few minutes of dialogue; however, it’s best used as background art.