Munster, Go Home!, 1966.
Directed by Earl Bellamy.
Starring Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, Debbie Watson, John Carradine, Richard Dawson, Terry-Thomas, Jeanne Arnold and Hermione Gingold.
Herman Munster inherits the title of Lord Munster and the estate of his English uncle so the family visit England but their presence isn’t welcomed by their dastardly English relatives.
TV shows very rarely make for good movies, with only a few notable exceptions such as Batman making the transition successfully. And Batman is an apt example as it was the full colour adventures of the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder that put an end to the creaky black-and-white escapades of The Munsters TV show back in 1966 after two series. As a result, The Munsters got their own movie and for the first time they were shown in Technicolor.
In this big screen adventure, Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) receives word that he is to inherit Munster Hall in Shroudshire, England and he will be made Lord Munster. Herman, his wife Lily (Yvonne De Carlo), their son Eddie (Butch Patrick), their niece Marilyn (Debbie Watson) and the vampiric Grandpa (Al Lewis) packs their bags and sail over to Blighty to claim their inheritance but their arrival upsets Herman’s cousins Grace (Jeanne Arnold) and Freddie (Terry-Thomas), who want the estate for themselves and set about trying to get rid of their American relations.
Munster, Go Home! follows most other TV shows that have been made into movies by stretching out the jokes that make up a 30-minute episode into a feature-length film. Most of the elements that made up the TV series are here – the only change to the cast is Debbie Watson replacing Pat Priest as Marilyn – and the goofy graveyard humour that made the show so delightful doesn’t become overly tiresome like it so easily could have.
Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis are the standouts here, as they were on television, and having eccentric British character actor Terry-Thomas (The Abominable Dr. Phibes) as the conniving Freddie gives the film a bit of English charm and something for the American actors to react to. However, while the film is fun and certainly enjoyable, it isn’t actually that good, in the traditional sense of the word. The flimsy plot and reliance on fish-out-of-water scenarios don’t hold up well over 96 minutes despite the best attempts of the cast to keep the spirit of the TV show going, and like a lot of TV shows turned into movies there is no laughter track, which may have helped bring a bit more atmosphere to it.
The transition to colour doesn’t do this film any favours either, probably because The Munsters TV series was a comedic tribute to the Universal monsters of the ‘30s and ‘40s and kept that vibe going by being presented in black-and-white. Understandable why they made it in colour but in doing so one of the core elements of the series was lost and it sounds like sacrilege to say it but the 1995 revamp Here Come the Munsters – also being re-released by Fabulous Films – is actually the better movie in terms of entertainment value, despite also being in colour and featuring a replacement cast. Nevertheless, you know what you’re going to get from an adventure with The Munsters and while Munster, Go Home! will have appeal to established fans it is unlikely to pull in any new ones.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★