Rob Zombie's The Munsters movie has finally arrived, and we can confirm that it is a delightfully campy trip for the whole family. Out now on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital, The Munsters is — by a long shot — the most wholesome project Zombie has ever crafted. The new reboot movie is a prequel to the original series, revealing how Herman (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Lily Munster (Sheri Moon Zombie) first met. It also details how the couple came to move from Transylvania to Hollywood with Lily's father, The Count (Daniel Roebuck), also known to fans of the original series as the outlandish Grandpa.
The most important thing to know about The Munsters is that it is cheesy, low-budget fun on purpose. Certainly, we can't speak on behalf of Zombie, but as someone who has always been transparent about his love for the bizarre and ostentatious film and TV projects of the '60s and '70s, it seems fair to presume that Zombie intended on paying tribute to the classic series without approaching it in an unnecessarily over-complicated manner. After all, that would not be an honest representation of the show, and it's kind of already been tried. The longtime filmmaker bypassed gritty reboot notions and instead made a movie that looks like it could have been fully costumed by a Spirit Halloween store and produced for a public television network.
Now, while that could sound insulting to some, it is fully and sincerely meant as a compliment here. Part of what made The Munsters series so compelling and enjoyable was that it was made in an era without CGI or elaborate SFX. Every bewitching and creepy creature was crafted with simple materials. Zombie has captured that feeling here using rubber masks, retro cinematography, and lighting that is somehow both vintage and modern. It would not be a stretch to say that you could imagine horror TV hosts such as Chicago's Svengoolie or Nashville's Dr. Gangrene airing this movie during a weekend late-night presentation.
The film's main cast all do a terrific job of capturing the magic in their characters, each one bringing a very special interpretation, especially Roebuck. Al Lewis, the original actor to portray The Count, set an incredibly high bar that a handful of other actors have tried to meet over the past few decades, but none of them came near as close as Roebuck's curmudgeonly kooky performance in this movie. Phillips' take on Herman is more of a reimagining of the character through the story's specific lens — but he absolutely nails that iconic laugh — and Sheri Moon delivers an enchanting performance as Lily, expounding on how the Munster matriarch has always been the most down-to-earth member of the macabre family.
Other stars of the film include Richard Brake, Sylvester McCoy, Jorge Garcia, Catherine Schell, Cassandra Peterson, Jeremy Wheeler, Tomas Boykin, Roderick Hill, Mark Griffith, and Fred Coury. Additionally, Dee Wallace appears in a voice role, as do former Munsters stars Butch Patrick and Pat Priest. Patrick played Eddie Munster in the original series, and Preist was the second actress to portray Cousin Marilyn, after the late Beverley Owen.
Maybe one of the most stand-out elements of The Munsters is the music, overseen by longtime Zombie collaborator Zeuss, who worked with the director on 31 and 3 from Hell. Zeuss is also an accomplished heavy metal producer who, over the past two decades, has worked with artists such as Hatebreed, Queensrÿche, Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, and even Zombie himself, on two of the rockers' albums: The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser (2016) and The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy (2021). What Zuess does with The Munsters' score is quite enthralling, and the songs he crafts — like Herman's punk-musical comedy tune "I Got A Million Of Them" — are ones that will haunt your mind for weeks.
Bottom line: The Munsters is, undeniably, a labor of love that also makes for a festive kick-off to the spooky season. The film is rated PG and isn't violent or profane in any sense of the term, so Munsters and Rob Zombie fans with little ones can feel assured that if you pop this in the ol' Blu-ray player it's going to deliver ghoulish laughs, and for some will bring back fond memories of the legendary show. In addition to the film, fans will find the collector's edition release also contains a feature commentary from Rob Zombie, as well as an hour-long behind-the-scenes doc, titled The Munsters: Return to Mockingbird Lane. Those interested in picking up a copy of The Munsters can do so by clicking this Amazon link.