‘The Munsters’ might not appeal to everyone, but Rob Zombie has a blast

Rob Zombie has long established himself as an auteur of grind-house gore. Making his directorial debut nearly 20 years ago with House of 1000 Corpses, his work is certainly of an acquired taste. The Firefly trilogy is not without its flaws, something Zombie himself openly acknowledges, but if there’s one thing he captures consistently well – and this extends to his later filmography, too – is an era-defining aesthetic. Zombie’s work is an ode to classic horror; his appreciation for the genre is outstanding, and while his experience with reboots might have offered little assurance to fans, there’s no one better to take the reins on reviving a beloved classic sitcom.

Lighthearted macabre humour isn’t exactly the first thing to cross your mind when Zombie’s name is tossed into the ring. So naturally, eyebrows had been raised when this project was announced. Now, as someone unfamiliar with The Munsters and a regular Zombie fan, my curiosity peaked – and I’m glad it did. The prequel presents itself as a passion project for Zombie, who recruits real-life wife and frequent collaborator Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, and Daniel Roebuck to headline the wacky comedy. 

From a visual perspective, The Munsters looks fantastic. Practical make-up, props and special effects are a Zombie staple; considering his work tends to pay homage to films that relied on similar methods, a level of authenticity (and nostalgia) is preserved. Zombie goes for a full old-school horror aesthetic – and he gets it. With a fog machine and what sounds like the Halloween soundboard you’d hear in a supermarket’s seasonal aisle, Zombie brings forth a whole lot of charm to The Munsters.

But that’s where it ends, unfortunately. There is very little substance weaved within the plot and if it weren’t for the classic Hammer horror tone, we’d have tuned out long before the halfway mark. On a positive note, the characters look amazing and the cast seem like they’re having a blast; in fact, The Munsters could easily be mistaken for an excuse Zombie made up to get his nearest and dearest together for a night in the town. We’re not about to complain about that in the slightest.

Zombie’s enthusiasm carries through the screen. To see him branch into unfamiliar territory is a welcome change of pace. The Munsters isn’t going to be for everyone; however, it is a film that embraces all viewers whether they’re a fan of the original series or Zombie – or neither at all.

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