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The Munsters

Rob Zombie’s early years were like the other young Americans. Growing in Haverhill, Massachusetts there wasn’t much to do, so he would watch television like the other children on his block. It’s important to keep in mind when thinking of the history in America as a specific living experience, and not as an abstract set of images and symbols that only existed as three TV channels. Zombie likely watched “The Munsters,”” the show that was passed through the hands of various people until it was eventually created by “Rocky and Bullwinkle” creators Allan Burns and Chris Hayward often throughout the week. “The Munsters” had been designed to be a sort of an homage to “Leave It to Beaver” (whose producers were also the hosts of “The Munsters”) but using character designs borrowed from the parent company of NBC, Universal which meant that they didn’t be tasked with rights issues. In the end, The Munster family would attempt to survive week in and week out; cope with small issues such as first dates or bigger ones like intolerance. They also, as with “The Brady Bunch” following them, had briefly-lived moments of fame. If you grow to be a child within Haverhill where there’s just three television channels, you’ve probably seen every show of “The Munsters” at school, and this show that was meant to be something to entertain you may become more important than its creators would have realized. Zombie was a gore film fan as a teen and he was never able to forget “The Munsters.”

The humor that was the hallmark of sitcoms, its larger-than-life performance by Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis and the cartoon sound effects that were pulled from the same closet that “Bullwinkle”s editors had abandoned them, and the vision of Universal monsters running with the joneses of Mockingbird Lane’s suburbs–all of it influenced everything Zombie created afterward. In everything from his musical videos, to concert and cartoon films and his infamous Tom Papa stand-up special to his famous horror films there’s always an unspoken late-night sitcom rerun fashion, charming humor that often serves as an ironic contrast to the violence and murder of his works. The most recent film is a tone-deaf and astonishingly faithful to the spirit of the show called “The Munsters” (technically the sixth film created with the characters) is an example of a missing piece in his work as a director it’s a sweet and sometimes hilarious film that is mostly about the idealized world of the ’60s’ most popular culture icons, a cutting of the real world’s fabric so that we can step right into Zombie’s fantasies of his past, seated at the television.

We begin with Doctor. Henry Augustus Wolfgang (the always fantastic Richard Brake, lately of “Barbarian”) as well as Floop, his half-wit Assistant Floop (Jorge Garcia) They are at the moment making the doctor’s most ambitious test yet: creating the perfect human being from the dead bodies of the greatest geniuses of the last century. The doctor is in theoretical good luck today since Shelly Von Rathbone (Laurent Winkler) one of the most famous philosophers of our time is just passing away. However her twin brother Shecky (Jeff Daniel Phillips) who is a terrible stand-up comic has also passed away and is buried at the funeral home. Floop takes the brain of the wrong brother, and, when Henry presents his creation on live television He discovers that he is no chance of being an unimaginably gifted genius capable of acting like Brahms or even speaking flawless French but rather a sloppy person (also Phillips) who loves laughing at himself and his jokes. While Henry is horrified by the show but there’s another viewer who is completely captivated. The undead and unmarried Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie) is also living in the same community within Transylvania in the same neighborhood as Dr. Henry and the creature has endured a series of awful first dates in an attempt to find the perfect partner. When she first meets the creature, who Floop refers to as Herman Munster, she’s instantly attracted. Herman is found and they begin an hurried relationship, while her father, the count (Daniel Roebuck) is snarky and attempts to disband them. He views Herman as a snobby and ape who isn’t worthy of his beautiful daughter. Naturally, they fall together after Herman has a mishap and sells the estate of his family for one of theCount’s violent lovers, Zoya Krupp (Catherine Schell). They’re forced to relocate to America and If the Count doesn’t wish to be left behind and be a better father-in-law and in a hurry.

The most intriguing aspect of “The Munsters” is that it is able to create captivating, thrilling mise-en-scenes and still adheres to the kind of preteen-friendly aesthetic that was prevalent in Halloween-themed shops and commercials from the 1990s. Zombie’s colors seem to draw inspiration from the handful of instances where The Munsters would appear in color (as in the film of 1966 “Munster Go Home,”” in which there’s an appearance by the Munsters’ hot rod Dragula as the name of the most well-known song by Zombie) and also from ads for toys that can be made at home. It should prove unwieldy (especially as it’s the envelope in which sitcom humor is delivered) and to some it may, but few movies this year have as much color in every composition, nor as much care put into navigating the beautifully-silly-but-expertly-crafted sets. Zombie, as the director of Photography Zoran Popovic employ every trick they can find and are both unflinchingly and slyly (stab zooms to create jokes, shaky handheld dutch tilts in chaotic scenes) as well as firmly anchored (the camera is essentially floating around hallways and down staircases). The film is stunningly beautiful that puts every whim in the form of the cards in a deck. The score composed by Zeuss comes straight from the library of sitcoms and makes sure that each comic beat is given the appropriate horn smack. It’s like a stunning crossover between the top-rated TV lineup and an edgy Euro horror comedy from 1977.

Naturally, this extends to the stage also. Everybody here is committed with all of their bodies to this tiny idea. Sheri Moon Zombie infuses Lily with a kind of character, refusing to let a circumstance however dire she is in, depress her. Phillips has been Zombie’s psychotic utility player for years and is able to play both the conniving and recklessly narcissistic in equal measure. Phillips’ Herman Munster is a more contemporary and slightly more aggressive approach to the character than the one Fred Gwynne played (with regard to Phillips but nobody was ever going to beat Gwynne’s version of the character that has made him famous) However, the essence of self-aggrandizement and churlishness remains. Phillips appears to be having fun playing the role of a creature in full of nervous pleading for approval and enjoying himself with every joke and remark.

Daniel Roebuck makes for a ideal substitute to Al Lewis, the magnificent old codger who ran for the mayorship in New York as the delegate from the Green Party. The supporting players Schell, Garcia, Sylvester McCoy, Cassandra Peterson (who is known as Elvira the mistress of the Dark) as well as Tomas Boykin all bite right into the comical tone, not afraid of the huge volume their director has asked for them. Richard Brake, as usual is the hero who is a riot in a dual character as the inscrutable crazy doctor as well as when the vampire in Nosferatu style. Lily who is on a date. Zombie always allows Brake enjoy himself more than other directors and both are delicious scenes for Brake to carefully but fervently consume. The film also features tiny scenes with the earlier “Munsters” cast members Pat Priest (Cousin Marilyn) and Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster).

The film’s entrance in the same vein as Zombie’s previous films (beyond its incredible self-consciousness) is in the way it mixes with old symbols, much like they Munsters themselves are delighted to discover dead bodies buried in the front yard of their house in Mockingbird Lane. The script of the film is woven from various “Munsters” plotlines and the plot’s references include a lot of double jokes. For instance, the musical number in which Herman is joined by Lily perform Sonny as well as Cher’s “I Have It You, Babe.” It’s an allusion to the kind of show you’d see on TV in between reruns “The Munsters” and “I Dream of Jeannie” however, it also gives an homage to Bill Moseley’s character as a character in “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Part 2.” Moseley is the an infamous spree killing Otis Firefly in Zombie’s “Devil’s Rejects” trilogy. In the first film directed by his close friend Tobe Hooper, the actor was as a sadistic veteran who covered the plate of metal in his head wearing the look of a Sonny Bono hairstyle. It’s not a big difference from the method Zombie normally works, however, instead of being a sense of comfort for those who have been who are endoctrinated to counter the constant negative vibes that he creates in his horror films, here is in line with the purpose of the film: remembering things while creating new ones.

The review I gave of “3 From Hell,” I compared Zombie to Howard Hawks, who by the time he was done with his career was constantly reusing ideas since it was obvious that his preferred milieu was. “The Munsters” is a re-telling of one of Hawks notorious comedies, “A Song is Born” or “Man’s Most Favorite Sport?” which despite its insignificant plot let the director enjoy situations which revealed the most the human condition to him. Molly Haskell related Hawks’ characters to Adam and Eve and the characters figuring out what they will and cannot tolerate of each the other, navigating their mismatched senses until they discover ways to connect with one another. Zombie’s “Munsters” film tells the story of Adam and Eve characters of a distinct kind. By telling their story as an old-fashioned love story and the funny bits that are like the most hilarious jokes ever made an unwavering commitment to the story is revealed. Every concept is given the amount of attention it deserves as Zombie strives to be a true representation of numerous things at once the cast of his beloved regulars, his passions as a creator and a consumer and the TV show he’s adapting, the years his childhood self was glued to the television set that shaped his personality (not because of the fact that TV play a significant role in this film’s plot) Unconsciously, he’s making plans for a life that loops back to the present.



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