Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot of “Halloween” removed the mystery behind Michael Myers.
Instead of a mysterious “shape” that kills out of rage, Myers becomes an abusive young man with a penchant for wearing the mask of William Shatner.
The writer/director’s reboot of “Munsters” performs a similar service. The series initially contrasts the vampire family with its Normal Rockwell neighbors, and hilarity ensues.
You won’t find much fun in “The Munsters,” now available on Blu-ray and Netflix. The reboot, which is technically a prequel, basks in the sweat of creative failure while ignoring the humorous sample of the source material.
Rarely do so many performers burn so many calories for zero laughs. Less than 0, more precise.
Jeff Daniel Phillips stars as Herman Munster, created by a mad scientist who brings together different parts of a human. He’s just revived when he has a prophetic date with Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie, the director’s muse).
It’s love at lightning, that makes Lily’s grandfather the Count (Daniel Roebuck steps in as Al Lewis’ iconic vampire).
Will Grandpa find a way to separate this love couple? Will werewolf Lester (Tomas Boykin) trick Herman into making a deal he will quickly regret? Can the characters introduced in the first level disappear without leaving a trace?
The plot of “The Munsters” is like several episodes of a sitcom put together, with no particular plot that is important to our interests. Yes, Grandpa hated Herman at first, but it was hard enough to make a movie.
The arrival of Grandpa’s vengeful ex is similar and hardly worth it to us.
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Movie grace? Phillips and Sheri Moon Zombie share a strange chemistry, undeniably two lovable Munsters. Their infectious spirit holds several parts of the film together, even if it’s clear the material is pure filler shouting for the editor’s blowing torch.
Zombies have chosen to bathe nearly every scene in ugly neon lights, making sure nothing on screen is scary or worth watching in the movie. That gives a PG-rated game, but it also makes the entire production look like a video transition.
Content barely helps.
You will sit, stone-faced, waiting for that elusive first laugh. Zombies and accomplices. Try everything to make us grin, from the goofy blurs to the fast-paced action and cartoon sequences.
The movie pushed its micro-budget into our faces. In many ways, it’s like a product of another era – even before the ’60s inspiration. The comedy is the crude Borscht Belt, musical cues so loud you’ll be bald that it’s coming. from a silent movie screening.
The film uses a few black-and-white montages, but they don’t add funny plot or plot.
It’s still hard to mistakenly shoot the Zombie “Munsters”. The cast is so giddy, so eager to do anything for their director, that it makes the process of piling into production feel so cruel. It’s a literal punch down.
Phillips nailed Fred Gwynne’s signature smile and stomped his feet, while Sheri Moon Zombie roamed the screen like her predecessor, Yvonne De Carlo. It’s all in vain, as the story barely moves forward and the script brings one grocer on top of another.
Some jokes are meant to be old and dusty, of a variety of winks, winks, nudges. It’s hard to tell them apart from the “fresh” pile.
We get the usual range of Easter eggs, from Phillips’ name check “Vehicle 54, Where Are You?” (Gwynne’s previous hit sitcom) for the supporting characters in the show’s original run to visit.
Those with keen eyes will notice the original “Munster” Pat Priest and trimmed, as well as the voice of Butch Patrick AKA Eddie Munster.
“The Munsters” feels like a strong high school work, with ample space and serious makeover budget (by academic standards). Even so, even the best backgrounds and monster scenes are turned into trash by the Zombie’s lighting scheme.
On this day in 1964, Munsters first aired!
This is one of the best scenes of the show and the lesson still applies to this day! pic.twitter.com/YHv3UVqvRJ
– Scooby-Doo History (@scoobyhistory) September 24, 2022
The director of “The Devil’s Rejects” and “31” isn’t known for humour, and “The Munsters” isn’t going to turn the tide on that assumption. He’s stomped on all the cleverly light lines, with vibrant soundtracks or swashbuckling directions.
At least he didn’t go down the path of sobriety or get rid of the show’s PG roots. You will hear a joke about gay sex but it will fly over the heads of children.
In fact, kids are the best audience for the reboot, eager to see the garish colors, monstrous costumes, and “Barney-level” yuks.
“The Munsters” does not directly introduce a sequel or an extension to the series, but the final moments suggest such a scenario. Now, that’s scary.
The Blu-ray edition features Rob Zombie’s audio commentary along with the hour-long feature film “The Munsters: Return to Mockingbird Lane”. The latter allows the writer/director to dive deep into his or her creative process.
Hit or miss: The first trailer for “The Munsters” hints at a production failure. The film practically does nothing to counter those thoughts.