[I’m not even gonna put a quote in the quote part. Not one line in this film is worth it.]
Genre: Strange Homages To Classic TV
Release Date: 2022
Where I Watched: Netflix
Gist: Oh c’mon. You wouldn’t be reading this review if you didn’t know the Munsters. But you know the already settled family at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. How’d they get there? This film’ll show you.
Talky talk: I was stoked when I heard Rob Zombie was going to do a spin on The Munsters. But now I’m just disappointed. I appreciate his attempt, and it’s obvious by his attention to detail that he’s a huge fan of the original series, but this Munsters is weird in a bad way. Scenes feel stretched out for no reason except to pad the run time. Dialogue is clunky, and while the actors try their best, jokes don’t land, and are drawn out until any bit of humor is beaten out of them. (See: previous sentence.)
This Munsters starts off with the literal creation of Herman. And oh c’mon – the brain snafu from Young Frankenstein is practically ripped off wholesale. Plus, the use of Creepshow-esque comic book shock panels to drive home Big Moments only serve to remind me that I could be watching something that’s actually good. Don’t get me started on the absolute waste of Cassandra Peterson. I understand she’s not all Elvira, all the time. But her character feels like either an overdrawn cameo, or a waste of an opportunity. No wait; it’s both.
In trying to remain faithful to the original TV show, this film ends up being overly silly, throwing everything at the audience, hoping something sticks. Spoiler: nothing does. Munsters doesn’t feel retro, but out of touch. Definitely a made-for-TV aesthetic, but I think that’s intentional on Zombie’s part, rather than a lack of effort. He wants it to hark back to the original TV show, but with a Susperia ’77 color palette in terms of visuals and art direction. Again, something that only serves to remind me that there’s better stuff out there, waiting for me. I think the best I can say about the plot is that rather than an overarching story, it feels like you’re binge-watching Rob Zombie’s interpretation of a handful of Munster episodes that don’t really have much to do with each other, except be set in the early phases of the Lily and Herman relationship/marriage.
The issue isn’t that Zombie doesn’t get horror. His horrorhound status is bona-fide, and has been for decades now. It’s that as a director he dials things up to 11, assuming that excess is best. That can work in horror, but in a comedic homage to a TV show, it ends up feeling like…overkill. Then there’s the ending. That’s how they’re ending it? Like part one of a two-part TV episode? Cut to the black and white “reimagined opening credits” Zombie first teased us with earlier this year, which made this movie feel like a lot more must watch that it actually is. I seriously doubt there’ll be a sequel to this sad trombone of a film. And oh my God that final end credit song is just painful to listen to. A recap of the story beats that’s just as bad as MIB2‘s ending. Well, at least Zombie didn’t write in any rap. So I guess that’s a plus.
Munsters could have been so much better, and I’d guarantee you that Zombie’s vision isn’t truly seen on screen. Maybe his ideas were too amorphous, and/or he wasn’t able to get exactly what he wanted onscreen, so as things progressed, he tried to mix a bunch of ideas together and hoped for the best. I’m trying to be kind here, y’all. I did enjoy how Herman and Lily found Spot, though. Just too cute! (And the rubber Spot prop is one moment of homage to the OG show that’s actually fun.) So I left y’all with a nice thing to say. I’m a goddamn saint.
Come for: Curiosities sake
Stay for: Something to watch if you’re wanting bright colors to trip you out after an edible.