Ya know what, I will give credit to Rob Zombie, not many filmmakers would dare to try to remake a horror classic and then later take on a beloved television series as a film. For a guy that has taken the very safe route on his last couple of films, he definitely put it all out there.
I just wish I had THE MUNSTERS was successful and not just, well, awful.
Let’s be honest here, it’s not easy to remake properties. As many remakes are out there, very few of them are good, let alone successful. It’s always easy to lean on those established properties but the fact is that it’s hard to coax lightning to strike twice and while people may be forever nostalgic, tastes change. Nostalgia takes us back to a different time, and rekindling that fire isn’t easy. There’s a reason The Munsters haven’t reappeared successfully before. They have tried, but it’s a product of a time and place and it just doesn’t hit the same now. I admit, I was always an Addams Family person, but the kitsch and tone of those shows looks like it’d be easy to recreate but is miserably hard. That the two Addams Family movies worked so well is almost a miracle. You can see the love in the MUNSTERS movie, you can see how much he wanted to recapture the things Zombie loved about the show but, well…
This is an origin story. We are getting the story of how Lily met Herman. We begin with Lily as a lonely vampire, desperately looking for love. Her father, the Count, wants to marry her off to a nice, rich vampire but she wants to find love on her own. Enter a doctor trying desperately to create the perfect being, made up of parts of talented and brilliant artists and thinkers. Unfortunately for the doctor, his assistant nabs the wrong brain and gets the dimwit comedian and not the genius. Here comes Herman. Considered an absolute failure by his creator, Herman strikes out to find his own way in the world and becomes a musician with a band. Lily, having seen him on television at his unveiling, tracks down Herman at a gig and the two are immediately smitten. Against her father’s wishes, Lily and Herman begin a love affair that will change them all.
I can see why they decided to go with an ‘origin’ story here because then it doesn’t override or undermine the original television show but adds something we hadn’t seen before. You get MOST of the characters fans loved and nods to other weirdies that are right up Zombies alley. This is a movie with a huge heart but no brains. It falls utterly flat and is almost unwatchable. I hate saying that because it’s become all too easy to hate on Rob Zombie and his films but it’s just a bad, bad movie.
In trying to ape the tone of the original, the gags don’t work, the schtick falls flat, and none of it really connects.
The actors are all decent in their roles, though it’s clear they are generally trying to capture what came before them and not forge new ground. I get that and understand it. I wish there were more room for them to add their own flavors but fans want the past, not something new, and this is soaked in the past and needs a diaper change.
The direction feels flat.
The writing is awful.
The camera work didn’t work for me.
The film’s color is overcranked to the point where it looks haphazard.
It’s almost like there’s TOO much style here.
The music is even crummy.
The costumes are great.
The makeup is fantastic.
Jeff Phillips and Daniel Roebuck are great in their roles and really bring it.
I won’t talk trash on Sheri Moon Zombie because she’s a decent actress, she’s just hampered by trying to recreate such a famous character and can’t really make Lily her own.
It’s clear Zombie didn’t have much of a budget and it shows. They did a yeoman’s job in trying to overcome the budget limitations and I don’t blame that at all for the film’s failure but instead blame slavish need to try to recapture the charm of a sitcom from the sixties. Maybe Addams Family still works because it came from comics that were timeless, or maybe it’s just an easier property to revisit. I’m not sure.
It really pains me that the movie falls so flat because I am always pulling for Rob Zombie as a filmmaker and think he has a lot of talent that just hasn’t really gotten fully utilized. This one is on him though, completely, just like the last two and that makes two bad movies in a row and three stinkers in a row total. Four if you want to count LORDS OF SALEM.
He still has talent and vision and I give him total credit for trying to get out of the box he’s been trapped in his whole career of making and remaking HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES type films, but he needs something to shake the cobwebs out. Something simple, something about characters and style and sets that can get him back into the groove.
For now, I can’t recommend MUNSTERS at all.
It’s just not good.
And that stinks.
*I offer this, I dunno that there’s another way to adapt this than to try to match the tone of the original. ‘Updating’ it would fall short too in my mind. I think you’ll either dig on this as a sweet taste of nostalgia or hate it*
1 .5 out of 5