Review: ‘The Munsters’ 2022 (a bunch of cornball hooey)

Imagine a cast of competing late-night horror hosts collaborating to make their own in-character zero-budget feature film. Actually, that would have been a better idea.

After abandonment by his grave-robbing creator Dr. Henry Augustus Wolfgang (Richard Brake), experimental failure Herman Munster (Jeff Daniel Phillips) is encouraged onto the Transylvania entertainment circuit by Wolfgang’s lab assistant Floop (Jorge Garcia). Herman’s headline performance is attended by Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie), a vampire looking for Mr. Right who has her sights set on a flat-headed monster with bolts in his neck. While Lily’s father The Count (Daniel Roebuck) takes exception with the pairing and sets out to ruin the relationship, Lily’s brother Lester (Tomas Boykin) working for local loan shark Zoya (Catherine Schell) is looking to take advantage of the situation… and at some point the action ends up on 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

There’s no doubt writer/director/rocker Rob Zombie loves “The Munsters,” and being granted the rights to make another reboot/origin story was a dream come true. From the first stills and trailers, however, fans and viewers questioned yet another full-color, feature-length reinterpretation of the monochromatic monster 1960s sitcom. Okay, so zero people were surprised when Zombie cast his wife Sheri as Lily Munster, but that left a lot of roles open and plenty of possibilities, including cameo parts for Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson, Sylvester McCoy, and Catherine Schell. Later identified as bypassing theaters directly to Netflix and home Blu-ray, the fandom waited in wonder: how bad could it be, or could Rob have something truly unique up his sleeve planned for his passion project?

Somewhere between feeling like an overlong television pilot and a kid’s shows drowning in nostalgia, Rob Zombie’s film is a checklist of things associated with The Munsters that, unlike Herman Munster himself, never adds up to more than their individual parts. Roebuck nails “Grandpa” with a more sinister take, Phillip’s Herman has his heart in the right place, and Sheri does her best cosplay of Lily, but the random scenes never gel to cement the pieces together. A better approach might have been to outright pit Grandpa against Herman until almost destroying everything to provoke a reconciliation, but the meandering narrative focused on puns and sight gags generate a couple of smirks but mostly cringe, falling utterly flat by the time the credits appear. Even Grandpa’s absent Dragula couldn’t have saved it.

All of this comes down to the age-old question: who was this for? Kids these days expect more sophistication; if you want macabre nostalgia cranked up to modern standards, “The Cuphead Show” on Netflix oozes with it. Adults looking for wholesome programming like movies on Hobby Lobby endcaps wouldn’t seek this out, so it’s pretty much just fans of the original… and that series already exists. After Zombie’s own “Dragula” video, it’s surprising he didn’t keep the innocence and go all-in on the demented visuals without any explanation. Sylvester McCoy’s Igor is a delight and a nice sparring partner for The Count, but Jorge Garcia’s Floop has too little to do other than play second banana; Peterson’s part is barely longer than shown in the trailer, where all the best parts already are.

The animated credits suggest something more interesting than the final cut, further proof the original actors are what made the 1964 source material work. The Munsters was conceived as a television series, a product of its time, with far less to draw upon than something like the 1938 debut of The Addams Family cartoons, which can still be reworked when new creators stick to the core ideas. About the only way to bring back The Munsters in a modern form honoring the original might be to crib on What We Do In the Shadows, because the television version has already nailed that formula with all the elements intact.

The Munsters 2022 is rated PG for macabre and suggestive material, scary images and language, and creating a ready-made installment of MST3K.

One skull recommendation out of four


7 comments

  1. Munsters is a work of art. Like the flintstones meets creepshow. Your review makes no sense. Youre a rob zombie hater and you know what? Scream isnt a horror movie is a bs murder mystery. Scream sucks!!!!!!

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  2. I loved Rob Zombie’s rework of Halloween; it showed knowledge and a willingness to take years of stories and retell them as if it had been that way since the beginning. Rob’s sequel, however, went off the deep end.

    The Munsters gets a reboot every few years, but feel free to watch any episode of the original series. There was an opportunity for a great intro to these characters (which has been touched on before), but it falls very flat at exactly the points it needed to step up. “A bunch of cornball hooey” is a quote from Zombie’s incarnation of Grandpa himself, and I agree with him.

    Happy you enjoyed it; go buy the Blu-ray in stores to get all the extras! 💀

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