Tuesday, September 27, 2022

[Review]—Rob Zombie's "The Munsters" is a Dreary Gothic Romance

After the disastrous trailer for Rob Zombie's version of The Munsters circulated online over the summer, was anyone anticipating it? Horror aficionados generally dislike Rob Zombie's movies, largely due to his wife, Sheri Moon, being cast in all of his films and his frequent usage of redneck characters with offensive dialogue. If you don't believe me, read the comments on any article about a Rob Zombie movie. Yes, there are a few trolls, but as I've already stated, most horror enthusiasts dislike his films. Maybe, with the exception of The Devil's Rejects, which has a modest fan base.  

I might be the odd one out, but I enjoyed every Rob Zombie movie that has come before. Yes, I even like certain scenes in Halloween II. However, that movie is far from my favorite; that honor belongs to the underappreciated film, Lords of Salem, in which Sheri Moon Zombie stars as the protagonist. Regardless of what other people may think, she provided a superb performance.

It's no secret that Rob Zombie has always loved The Munsters. He even used the drag racer "DRAG-U-LA" from the original 1964–1966 comedy as the inspiration for his 1998 song and breakthrough single, Dragula. The Return to Mockingbird Lane behind-the-scenes featurette and Zombie's commentary on the Blu-ray both demonstrate how passionate Zombie is about The Munsters. However, his interpretation of The Munsters is eccentric and will undoubtedly enrage lovers of the original series.

The Munsters is now available for viewing on Netflix and can also be bought on Blu-ray, DVD, and digitally. I watched the movie last week thanks to an advanced Blu-ray disc, and let's just say that by the time the credits rolled, I was speechless, and not in a good way. Because of the PG-rating, a first for a Rob Zombie movie, I was anticipating it to be arbitrary in Rob Zombie's typical manner without the blood and profanity, but I wasn't expecting a slooooowly, humorless narrative that somewhat, sorta, matches the vintage television series. 

Everything appears to be appropriately Gothic, including the scenery, costumes, and makeup. The Count, also known as Grandpa, is a standout among the two other roles that Daniel Roebuck portrays (at least the ones I noticed.) While Jeff Daniel Phillips does a fine job portraying Herman Munster, nobody will ever be able to match Fred Gwyn's iconic portrayal of the role. The outlier of the group, Sheri Moon, though, gives a lifeless, doorknob-like performance as Lily. While I don't like to call attention to an actress's age, Sheri is in her early 50s in this prequel, which makes her look a little too old for the part. She also has no resemblance to Yvonne De Carlo (who played Lily in the original series). In my opinion, a younger actress with more acting experience should've played Lily, but it's a Rob Zombie film, and he's going to cast his wife no matter what anyone else thinks.

The plot is weak. Herman's backstory and relationship with Lily take up most of the 110-minute runtime. There is a ridiculous subplot with Lester, Lily's werewolf brother (Tomas Boykin). To cut a very long story short, he owes money to the gypsy Zoya Krupp (Catherine Schell) and unintentionally contributes to losing his family's castle. Accompanied by their newly transformed bat servant, Igor, and their reptile companion, Spot, Herman, Lily, and The Count set out for Mockingbird Heights to begin a new life. THE END!

Additionally, neither Marilyn nor Eddie Munster are depicted in the film. Not even a mention of the characters is made. Pat Priest and Butch Patrick, the original stars, make voice cameos in other roles.

Although The Munsters is blatantly gruesomely bad, I respect Rob Zombie for trying something new and stepping outside his comfort zone. I adore the Gothic atmosphere, settings, outfits, and makeup, but everything would have looked better if filmed in black and white like the original series. Rob Zombie stated that Universal Pictures disallowed him from shooting in black and white, which was a mistake on their side since the movie would have looked much better but still wouldn't have prevented it from being a complete failure. Simply put, the script is terrible. The Munsters should have faced a challenge or villain, but all we get is fluff.╌★★½✰✰


  1. Agreed! Great review. I just watched it and did an online search to see if I was alone in thinking that Mrs. Zombie can’t act. She’s horrible. The movie is awful. But she somehow manages to elevate its awfulness.

    1. I find it strange that critics have given Sheri's portrayal of Lily a pass; even a few YouTubers felt she was good in the role. To each their own, but she was awful as Lily. I'm not sure what accent she was attempting, but it was terrible. Sheri herself, however, is not the film's weakest element; rather, it is the storyline and the awkward pace.


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