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The Munsters – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

If ever there was a divisive filmmaker over the last 20 years, perhaps it be that of Rob Zombie. His output has been very much of the love it or hate it mold. Regardless, he’s proven he can be one of the more interesting creators and definitely has a vision and voice. Which in the corporate algorithm, safe moviemaking landscape, that’s something I’ll always take a chance on for better or for worse. His latest effort is an update on the classic television show for which he is a big fan – The Munsters. And those who scoffed at him doing the film clearly don’t know much about the guy as he’s a huge fan of the series and if you listen to the commentary track on the Munster, Go Home! Blu-ray, you’ll see just that. I’ll admit skepticism after seeing the trailer, but I still wanted to remain optimistic on the film knowing Zombie’s passion for the material. The Munsters arrives on Blu-ray on September 27th and comes with a commentary and one-hour making of documentary. Paid Amazon Associates link is at the bottom if you’re interested in owning a copy.

Film

From writer/director Rob Zombie comes the strangest love story ever told. Lily is just your typical 150-year-old, lovelorn vampire looking for the man of her nightmares . . . that is until she lays eyes on Herman, a seven-foot-tall, green experiment with a heart of gold. It’s love at first shock as these two ghouls fall fangs over feet in this crazy Transylvanian romance. Unfortunately, it’s not all smooth sailing in the cemetery as Lily’s father The Count has other plans for his beloved daughter’s future, and they don’t involve her bumbling beau, Herman. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll howl at the moon as The Munsters make their way to Mockingbird Lane!

Rob Zombie’s prequel/origin film for The Munsters wears its heart on its sleeved and genuinely cares about its characters and material, but doesn’t quite reach much in the way of success. Its a very stylish affair, but its a bit overlong with jokes and scenarios that don’t land frequently enough. At many times its either just a bit too silly or not funny and tends to have pop culture references/gags that are quite dated to a degree where many might not remember or be kind of over it. That said, some do stick and the actors are pretty fun to just watch have fun and chew the scenery. There was a bit in the opening scene of the film that did actually have me chuckling pretty good. Alas, there was never a bigger chuckle and the laughs didn’t resound at a good rate.

That’s not to say the film isn’t trying. There’s a pretty fine effort here to make a film against what I’m guessing is a very low budget and a pandemic. Zombie makes the best of it with a very psychedelic cartoon aesthetic to the film. Its bursting with colors, far out camera movements and big, hammy performances on screen. Whereas, watching the trailer on my phone, I thought Zombie might be going for something and missing the mark, here when I see it on my home theater system, I can see that he is very much succeeding for what he is going for. I’m sure there are people who are going to accuse it of looking or being cheap, but I’m also going to gather that they aren’t really understanding or connected with what is influencing Zombie.

The film’s primary cast is the focus and they all have a certain chemistry with one another from having worked on plenty of Rob Zombie films together. They are all having plenty of fun, but part of the film’s folly is that they might be having too much of that. And a lot of the film is one of those that is trying for a joke or a gag with every line it seems. One of the fun things in this movie is that they all play other cameo-like characters in the film and its a treat when those pop up. But there are some supporting characters that were fun to see in something like this. Obviously, I’m going to point out Sylvester McCoy as I’m a big Doctor Who nerd. I was surprised at just how much of the film he was in the film and that they gave him plenty to do. Catherine Schell is also a treat for the first half of the film, as is getting to see Cassandra Petersen. Richard Brake might be the standout here as he gets something rather different for him his jokes might just land the best of all in the film of anyone.

Its not as if the cards aren’t on the table for this film to work, it just doesn’t quite get there. I feel like the spirit of The Munsters is seeping through some of the cracks as is the fun you can have with Rob Zombie’s films. The Munsters look, feel, effects and makeup all don’t wan tot try and be too modern and keep a nice 60s look it and I very much appreciate it. The film is indeed a bit long, though its about 1 hour 42 minutes without the credits. While I don’t believe this to be some under appreciated gem, I do think people are going to go overboard in maligning it and it certainly isn’t that bad, it just kinda misses. And that’s a much harsher judgement in comedy than other genres. However, this is one does feel incredibly family focused for all ages, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it became some sort of “isn’t bad, ack shully” cult classic like Hocus Pocus by a generation of children today down the road.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Munsters comes to Blu-ray and look rather gorgeous. It has a layer of what I’m assuming is simulated grain that really helps this look a lot better than what the trailer suggested. Colors are well saturated and burst off the screen in this very sharp, crisp and finely detailed picture. The film has a distinct and modern psychedelic look to it that I think might be divisive for those who don’t understand the type of stuff Zombie is pulling inspiration from and putting into practice.

Depth:  Depth of field is very strong here, with this looking like quite a big film even though its shot in small places. There’s a nice pushback, spacious appeal to interiors and good sense of scale. Movements are natural and smooth with no problems arising from rapid action crafting a blur or jitter.

Black Levels:  Blacks are pretty deep and close to natural without having the sort of digital gray look to them. Patterns, texture and detail are easy to discern even in some of the darkest corners of the frame. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  This is a very vivid and radiant film and the colors pop off, whether it be lighting, a garment worn of the makeup in the film. It has some good saturation and contrast to really lift up off your screen and glow in some nice corners.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and well displayed even with respective makeups one from start to finish. Facial features and textures are clear as day and the prosthetics and facial coloring looks pretty flawless.

Noise/Artifacts: None

Audio

Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 DTS

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: The Munsters comes with a 5.1 track that more than does the trick for what we are doing here. Vocals seems to have the favor in this mix, though things do weave in and out with good balance. Some of the sound effects could be a little louder but I think much of it is thought in a comedic way and goes with a lower volume. Overall, its good enough to more than get the job done.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer provides some solid bump and rumble for things like electricity, crashing, smashing, stomping and the bass and drum in the score/music.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a little bit of a front heavy mix, though there is some nice ambiance and build coming from the rear channels. There are some decent unique contributions and building in concert elements to be found as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. And as mentioned up top, are the more prominently displayed element in the mix.

Extras

The Munsters – Collector’s Edition is a 1-Disc Blu-ray set. It does not include a redeemable digital code.

Audio Commentary

  • with writer/director/producer Rob Zombie

The Munsters: Return To Mockingbird Lane (HD, 1:01:52) – A very detailed production diary that begins with a Jeff Daniel Phillips make up test in February of 2020. We get to see every aspect of the film with scouting, costuming, shooting, Zombie’s direction, set conversations, test shoots and a lot more. There are some musical montages and such woven around in.

Summary

The Munsters isn’t the outright failure I’m sure its going to be proclaimed/exaggerated to be. There’s a genuine vision to it as well as an honesty with moments of charm and a game cast in the overlong film that are appreciated. Universal brings it to Blu-ray with terrific presentation elements and an outstanding hour long documentary/filmmaking journal on making the film as well as a great commentary from Rob Zombie. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with a digital copy at this time. For those looking to own it, this is a pretty good package at a rather easy going price.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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