‘The Munsters (2022)’- Movie Review: Was Rob Zombie’s Latest THAT Bad?

Taking a break from the trashy R-rated horror movies he’s best known for, from House of 1,000 Corpses to the unnecessary Halloween remakes, it appears writer/director Rob Zombie is toning things down for a change to bring us his take on a modern adaptation of The Munsters. This is something much different when Universal has him doing a colorful origin story of the beloved 1960s family television sitcom created by Allan Burns and Chris Hayward. Part of me wasn’t the least bit interested in watching this since I had a hard time believing the trailer we got last summer was for a real movie. It didn’t look very good since it looked like a fan film.

Not that I expected high art for a movie with a straight-to-home video release and is currently on Netflix. But considering my distaste for similar movies Dark Shadows and the animated Addams Family movies, there was some hope to see what Zombie can do with a property he grew up watching. We could be in for an unexpected change of pace for the musician turned director. But as much as I tried to keep an open mind when pressing play, I desperately wanted to turn it off 30 minutes in and never look back. So yes, this reboot is an utter disaster.

In Transylvania, vampire Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie) is living with her father, The Count (Daniel Roebuck) aka Grandpa, in a castle while trying to find the love of her life in a city of monsters. All the while, Dr. Henry Augustus Wolfgang (Richard Burke) and his hunchback assistant, Floop (Jorge Garcia), brought a monster to life through his latest experiment. That creation is named Herman Munster (Jeff Daniel Phillips), a 7-foot-tall green man, whose new brain gets mistakenly for a recently deceased comedian. Lily sees him on television and instantly becomes head over heels in love in what begins a whirlwind romance between them, much to the Count’s dismay.

Anybody who was a fan of the series doesn’t need to waste your time. Even when the approach is meant to be campy, it goes about it in the worst possible way. And I thought it was just the trailer that made it look unwatchable, but it’s the truth with the final product that’s worse than I feared. First, it will not appeal to anyone who’s a teenager or younger since I’m pretty sure they haven’t heard of The Munsters before. But, even then, they’ll be bored out of their minds sitting through this, as it shows Zombie doesn’t know the concept of a storytelling structure that doesn’t come together correctly. Was there even a plot? I don’t remember.

We don’t have their son Eddie or Cousin Marilyn (why?) when this is all about how Lily and Herman first fell in love and moved to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, which took an hour for the characters actually to get there. Was any of what happened in the entire 110 minutes the least bit interesting? No. And while I’m aware of the series, I’ve never watched a single episode. I know the catchy theme song, sampled effectively in the Fall Out Boy track “Uma Thurman.” But that’s beside the point. There was a moment when the Count said, “I can feel my brain cells dying,” and that’s how I felt the same way with each passing minute in its overlong runtime.

Part of me wants to appreciate the style tones Zombie’s going for with the colorfully vibrant production value, costumes, and makeup effects trying to replicate the non-black-and-white atmosphere of the show. And trust me, putting it in black-and-white wouldn’t have helped. But it would’ve been translated well by a different director to class things up a bit for a throwback. The entire time I felt like I was watching a fake movie with no sense of purpose being made only for him. Frankly, I got annoyed with the style of its crazy editing, poor transition quality, and cinematography work that made it look like I was watching a low-budget television special for Primetime that would’ve bombed hard in a year like today. Was it supposed to be cheap or tongue-in-cheek on purpose? This is probably the cheapest-looking movie I’ve seen in years, and it’s not shocking to know why it wasn’t meant to be released in theaters.

The lovable enough characters you know are there, but I didn’t find any charming connection for any of them. Since it feels like they are performing in a lackluster stage play that gets worse with each scene, actors like Jeff Daniel Phillips, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Daniel Roebuck are completely at fault for not being able to make the material help them (thanks to Zombie not staying away from a screenplay) None of them held a candle to the original cast because they were miscast. You can see Phillips is trying his best, but Herman just appeared obnoxious to the inevitable end. There’s never that chemistry between Herman and Lily that made me want to grab onto every moment. Moon Zombie also can’t act, by the way. We also have Lily’s werewolf brother and a side plot of him trying to sign over the Count’s castle nobody will care about.

And if you wanna talk about a laugh-free experience, just imagine the deadpan stare I had on my face watching this at ten in the morning. All the attempted jokes with the monsters doing things out of the ordinary can work. These jokes, especially the dad puns, got stale quickly that won’t have kids laugh. The worst scene of them all (and there are so many) is when the couple walks into an outdoor cafe in Paris and ends with every person screaming and running out when they see them, including a mime. They did all of it in that outdated quick, fast-forwarding editing, making this worse. And you get the dumbest reasoning for Herman’s name, which is based on cheese? Munster cheese? Get it?!

Everything about this convinced me that Zombie is acceptable as a singer, but he can’t make a decent movie to save his life. There was no reason to update The Munsters when it won’t get a rousing response for most people. It’s good that I didn’t have to pay $6 when I watched it on Netflix for free. However, I don’t know why I spent two hours watching a poor recreation of this property that was doomed from the start. You want his love for the show to be represented well, but it doesn’t. And this proves that just because something was popular decades ago doesn’t mean it’ll fit right in now in modern times. So why didn’t this go the same route as the live-action Addams Family movies from the ‘90s? If you require something macabre to keep you in the spooky mood after the Halloween season is over, you’re better off waiting for Wednesday to at least capture the spirit better than what was attempted here. 

The Munsters is the most embarrassing film I’ve watched all year and is a strong contender for the worst. Rob Zombie’s reimagining of the classic sitcom failed to keep me entertained. Comprising flat humor, cheap-looking camera work and visuals, and a lack of charm from its main characters, don’t lay your eyes on this. 

Grade: [F]

The Munsters is now available to own on Blu-Ray and DVD and is also streaming on Netflix. Runtime: 110 Minutes. Rated PG for macabre and suggestive material, scary images and language. Studio: Universal 1440 Entertainment.

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