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I loved the original Munsters series from the 1960's. I also enjoyed the
reunion movie from 1981. However, I cannot say I enjoyed The Munsters Today
from 1988. So before I saw this film in 1996 I was a little
But it's a magical film which will be loved by kids and adults alike. As the title suggests, it's set during the fantastic Christmas period where The Munsters get up to all sorts of fun. Oh, and they also receive a visit from many other creatures throughout the world (I think I spotted The Creature from The Black Lagoon at one point).
The cast all do a great job. It's hard filling the shoes of the great actors from the 60's series but the cast do a wonderful job of recreating the magic (if only all TV remake movies could do it). The film has many funny scenes throughout.
Fans of the original series, I recommend you check this out. You won't be disappointed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I liked the original Munsters series on TV; Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis,
Yvonne DeCarlo, and Butch Patrick were perfectly cast in their parts.
Unfortunately the Munster's Scary Little Christmas has none of the wit
and charm of the original series. With the exception of Ann Magnuson's
Lily, all the other actor's playing Munsters are pale imitations of the
This movie is so bad it can't even work on a pseudo-nostalgic level, as the acting, and especially the writing is so bad that one can't revive any affection felt for the original characters. It is written as if it were targeted for 6 year olds. Even Santa is an unsympathetic superficial caricature. The Santa in the Dudley Moore Santa Claus movie had more personality, heck, the Santa in "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" had more personality and depth! *SPOILER ALERT* (as if you could spoil something this rotten) When the elves turn Santa into a fruitcake, you don't care; on the other hand, when Herman casually mentions that their pet, Spot, ate the mailman, I was more upset!
The only other redeeming qualities of this film are Elaine Hendryx's (Marilyn) legs.
Skip this and watch the Christmas episode of the Munsters' first season instead.
About what you'd expect from the weirdest family in southern california. As Eddie displays negative emotions toward the holidays the family attempts to dredge him from the depths of the Christmas doldrums. Along the way Grampa tries to help Santa with his gift giving by concocting a magic potion for the jolly one but is hindered by a pair of pesky elves. As all this is going on Mrs. M and Eddie enter the house decorating contest with an unusual decor, much to the chagrin of an obnoxious, competitive neighbor. Pretty lame, but still some silly fun.
Updating a classic TV show in a feature film adaptation is tricky
business. On the one hand you want to satisfy the fans, but on the
other you want to make it accessible to the new generation. This has
been successful many times. 'The Addams Family' and 'The Brady Bunch'
movies and their sequels performed well and received mostly positive
reviews. Other examples such as 'The Dukes of Hazzard' and 'Wild Wild
West' didn't fare so well. Why? Neither of those films seemed to have
any heart in them, especially the latter which is little more than an
overblown mess. Still this has become a popular trend, so it's no
surprise that Universal has made attempts at resurrecting their own
monster family show 'The Munsters.' Though it was made for the small
screen, 'Here Come the Munsters' did well enough to lead to this
Pros: Fun performances from the cast. Plus the actors playing the monster family do a fantastic job of emulating the original cast. Does a good job of capturing the spirit of the series. Nice job done on the production design. Fantastic make-up effects work. Has plenty of that corny, but endearing humor the series is known for. Fast paced. A good score, featuring a nice updated version of the original theme. Fans of classic monster movies should get a kick out of seeing some of their favorites appear.
Cons: Nothing here you haven't seen before in hundreds of other movies or shows. Some of the supporting players really overdo it. Though all the subplots do add to the fun, the story is a bit all over the place.
Final thoughts: A fun and cute update of the series. Won't change the world and is not a great technical achievement, but will certainly put a smile on your face and liven up a dull day. Also fans of the series and characters should be pretty happy because this movie really respects it's legacy.
My rating: 3.5/5
Get ready for some holiday spirits as the first family of fright
rallies to show melancholy Eddie Munster (Bug Hall) some of the holly,
jolly magic that only Santa (Mark Mitchell) can bring.
With no one from the original cast involved, and not even the second cast, you might think this would be terrible. And for some people, it might be. Grandpa's makeup is pretty questionable, and only Lily really looks close to the way she should.
But the actors involved are mostly notable and not just bums off the street, and the overall humor is pretty good -- the yard decorations, the bikers, the fruitcake. I think this is not necessarily a must-see Christmas film, but far better than some of the rubbish out there.
When you hear "The Munsters" you instantly think Fred Gwynne (Herman)
Al Lewis (Grandpa) and Yvonne DeCarlo (Lily). The three iconic
characters that define the original First Family of Fright are the
three most difficult to recreate.
Since previous reviews have spelled out what happens in this made for television movie, I'll focus my comments on the cast.
Sam McMurray as Herman Munster. Of previous actors to play the role since Fred Gwynne, Sam McMurray does a fairly good job of bringing the bumbling goof-ball Herman back to the small screen. A number of scenes bring a smile as that old familiar Herman appears like a mirage through McMurray's acting. Unfortunately his delivery of some of Herman's most memorable outbursts seem canned and without heart. While other moments seem over acted to the point of being out of character.
Not to be held against McMurray, the make-up team lacked the ability to transform him into Herman as Steve Johnson did with Edward Hermann in "Here Come the Munsters." In this incarnation Herman's facial color is bright minty green and the contouring seems to appear and disappear between scenes, leaving him looking flat and without character. McMurray also is not nearly as tall (only 6'2) as either Fred Gwynne or Edward Hermann who were both 6'5. Even with the platform boots and flat top head prosthetic McMurray did not tower over his costars as he should have.
All things considered Sam McMurray gets seven stars out of a possible ten.
Sandy Baron as Grandpa. With all due respect to the late Mr. Baron, he was the worst element of this television movie. Baron's portrayal of Grandpa was so poorly delivered it actually brings a cringe. Ignoring the poor script for Grandpa, Baron delivers almost every line nearly out of breath and completely out of character. His facial expressions and mannerisms come across the screen as a painfully forced, terrible Al Lewis impersonation. Making matters worse his poorly applied make-up included a monstrous, out of proportion nose prosthetic that stood out like a sore thumb. None of the magic or charm of Al Lewis' Grandpa was invoked by Baron.
Sadly Sandy Baron gets one star out of a possible ten for his out of touch portrayal of the lovable, cantankerous Grandpa.
Ann Magnuson as Lily Munster. Yvonne DeCarlo defined Lily Munster and made her what she is. From her facial expressions, body language and personality DeCarlo made Lily iconic and impossible to cast. That is until Ann Magnuson.
Magnuson stands out as the highlight of this entire television movie. In every scene involving Lily, Magnuson channels DeCarlo's charm, charisma and matriarchal appeal. Magnuson managed to achieve what seemed impossible. She became Lily, to the point where every scene she appeared in, she stole completely. If Magnuson is guilty of anything, it is playing Lily so well, it only showed how poorly the rest of the cast embodied their characters.
While the make-up team failed miserably on Herman and Grandpa, they excelled on Lily. Her make-up remained constant through out the film and though not quite blue enough as the original, Magnuson glowed as the daylight resistant Vampiress. While a liberty or two was taken with her gown, and the length of her hair was not quite long enough. None of these small variances upstaged her presence. Dare I say she was a 'dead' ringer for Yvonne?
Ann Magnuson gets ten out of ten stars for her haunting recreation of a classic television icon.
Bug Hall as Eddie Munster. Butch Patrick acted exactly how you'd expect the prepubescent wolf-boy son of Frankenstein's Monster and a Vampiress to act. It appeared Hall could have captured the original feel of Eddie if his direction had been better. Once or twice he emulated Eddie but it soon faded. I'd blame the director for this problem.
Yet again the make-up team fell far short of capturing the skin tone and proper hair for Eddie.
Unfortunately Bug Hall gets five out of ten possible stars for his unmemorable portrayal of Eddie Munster.
Elaine Hendrix as Marilyn Munster. While Marilyn was portrayed by Beverly Owen in the first season of the original series, replaced by Pat Priest in season two Priest is unforgettable as the blond, 'unfortunate' member of the Munster clan. Hendrix's portrayal of the bombshell Marilyn fell flat. Her physical appearance simply did not embody the jaw dropping effect of Priest. While her acting was not bad, it simply was not memorable. At no point in the film did the familiar Marilyn feel come across.
Wardrobe failed miserably with dresses that were too short for the modest beauty that is Marilyn.
Elaine Hendrix gets five out of ten possible stars for her forgettable portrayal of Marilyn Munster.
The Munster Mansion. The Munsters home is just as important of a character as the cast. Sadly the crew failed completely in capturing the original look of the home. The interior sets bared no resemblance to the original, which would have been relatively easy to create. The only recognizable element was the staircase and Spot. Sadly Spot looked terrible as well. The exterior looked too much like the home from The Addams Family. They would have done better to use stock footage or shoot a model as was done in "The Munsters Today" television show.
All elements combined the show gets five out of ten stars. The only redeeming quality in this film is Ann Magnuson as Lily Munster. Fans of Lily will love every moment she is present on screen. For this reason alone this TV movie should be seen.
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