The Munsters (2022) – Film Review
Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Daniel Roebuck
By Sarah Morgan
As a kid, I didn’t quite understand some of the gags in The Addams Family, but The Munsters was a different matter.
Both were made around the same time in the 1960s and enjoyed re-runs on British TV in the 1980s, which was when I first saw them. I loved the adventures of Herman, Lily and the rest of the clan, which really were family fare.
Back then I was already obsessed with Dracula, Frankenstein and things that go ‘bump’ in the night, so a sitcom featuring friendly versions of such phenomena was like a dream come true. I suspect that director Rob Zombie, who’s a generation older than me, was also a childhood fan, which is why his big-screen homage has so clearly been lovingly put together.
It’s such a shame, then, that the film slightly misses the mark – at least for the show’s now grown-up fans, such as myself. I assume, looking at the lame level of some of the gags, that it’s aimed at children, and yet some of the make-up would scare younger viewers silly. It’s also rather on the long side and takes an age to get going – pruning 10 minutes from Herman’s creation at the beginning would help a treat.
But it’s not all bad. Jeff Daniel Phillips seems to be channelling Fred Gwynne, who played the same character in the TV version, as Herman, while Zombie’s real-life wife Sheri Moon Zombie makes a decent Lily. Doctor Who fans will be pleased to see Sylvester McCoy pop up as Igor, servant of the Count, aka Grandpa Munster, who’s played by Daniel Roebuck; like Phillips, he delivers an uncanny interpretation of original star Al Lewis.
The film acts as a prequel to the TV show, offering an origin story for the family, starting with Herman’s creation by Dr Wolfgang (Peaky Blinders’ star Richard Brake), who’s assisted by hunchback Floop (Lost’s Jorge Garcia) and then charting Herman’s courtship with Lily and eventual relocation from Transylvania to California.
Sadly that means there’s no running joke involving the Munsters’ ordinary, attractive niece Marilyn or an appearance by Herman and Lily’s werewolf son Eddie (although actor Butch Patrick provides the voice of Tin Can Man in the film).
The wonderful theme tune doesn’t appear to until the very end, although there’s a great homage to the TV series’ closing titles.
In short, the big-screen Munsters is somewhat less than the sum of its parts, unlike the ever-lovable Herman.