The Munsters Is a Disappointing Revival of a Classic Franchise

I was really excited about The Munsters. I know, I know, there were a lot of reasons to be skeptical about this film, like the uninspiring trailer and the fact that it was made for Netflix (although, to be fair, not exclusively for Netflix), but when I want a movie to be good, I tend to be very optimistic about it. And since I’m a huge fan of the original Munsters TV show, I really wanted this film to be good. I kept my hopes up even when most people lost faith in the project, and after finally getting the chance to watch it, I’m sad to say that my optimism was pretty misplaced.

The Munsters was directed by Rob Zombie, and it stars Jeff Daniel Phillips, Sheri Moon Zombie, Daniel Roebuck, Sylvester McCoy, and Richard Brake. It’s set mostly in Transylvania, and it tells the story of how the Munster family we all know and love came to be. When it begins, Lily is looking for a husband, but she can’t find anyone suitable for her. Then, out of the blue, she sees a man named Herman Munster on TV, and despite the protestations of her father, the Count (known in the TV show as Grandpa Munster), a whirlwind romance between them ensues.

As I said, I wasn’t a big fan of The Munsters, but it’s not all bad. In fact, it actually gets a bunch of things right, so let’s start with the movie’s strengths. First and foremost, the visuals in this film are excellent. The set designs are beautifully macabre, the lighting enhances that feeling exponentially, and the makeup for all three main characters (Herman, Lily, and the Count) is spot-on. Simply put, this movie looks great, so even though I didn’t like it overall, I was at least able to enjoy it as spooky eye candy.

Orlock showing a picture of a rat

On top of that, the movie also features a bunch of little nods to classic horror films from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and as a huge fan of that classic era, I really enjoyed those callbacks. For instance, before Lily meets Herman, she goes on a date with a vampire named Orlock who loves plagues and rats, a clear reference to the vampire in Nosferatu. There’s also a subtle nod to Bela, the werewolf that bites Larry Talbot and turns him into the Wolf Man, and I caught references to Dracula and Frankenstein as well.

Unfortunately, though, that’s about all I can say on the positive side. Everything else about The Munsters is pretty disappointing, but there are two big weaknesses that really stood out to me. To begin, while the characters look great, they don’t feel like the Munsters I remember. For example, in the TV show, Grandpa was known primarily for his spells and potions, but he doesn’t go down into his lab for the entire first half of the movie.

Similarly, while actor Jeff Daniel Phillips has Herman’s signature laugh down pat, he just doesn’t have the same charm that Fred Gwynne brought to the role. The only one who feels close to right is Lily, but even then, there’s one big problem with her: Sheri Moon Zombie’s performance isn’t very natural. She comes across more like someone trying to imitate Lily Munster than the actual Lily Munster, and that took me out of the film quite a bit.

What’s more, since most of The Munsters takes place in Transylvania, it loses a big part of what made the original series so great. See, in the show, they’re a family of monsters living in a normal American neighborhood, but they don’t realize how weird they are. They think they’re normal, and that makes for some hilarious comedy.

The Munster family

But for most of this movie, they’re just like everyone around them. This version of Transylvania is full of monsters, so we don’t get the same kind of humor that the TV show gave us. To be fair, Herman, Lily, and the Count do eventually move to America, so we do get some of that signature misfit humor at the end of the film. However, we only get about 20 minutes of it, so it’s way too little way too late.

All that being said, none of those issues killed the movie for me. Sure, they were disappointing, but I could’ve forgiven them. As they say in sports, winning cures everything, so if The Munsters were funny, those problems would’ve been little more than minor quibbles. But unfortunately, it wasn’t. I honestly don’t think I laughed a single time throughout the film’s 110 minutes, and that was the real nail in the coffin for me. This is primarily a comedy, so being funny is its first priority. And since the movie fails at that, it fails overall.

So at the end of the day, I’m sad to say that The Munsters left me sorely disappointed. It’s totally unfunny, and it doesn’t have the nostalgic feel I was expecting. Sure, it gets some things right, like Herman’s signature laugh and the way the characters look, but it’s missing a lot of what made the original TV show so great. So if you’re looking for a fun revival that will bring you back to the days when you used to watch The Munsters on TV (whether during its original run or in syndication), you’re not going to find it here.

The Munsters is currently available to stream on Netflix, and you can also watch it at home on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray.


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  1. This version was so bad you have to laugh at it and know its so much corneir then rhe original but you need to watch it just for that reason

  2. Well it’s nice to see someone else that thought this movie sucked very disappointing but costumes and makeup were excellent and was really hoping to see the monster mobile

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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