MUNSTER, GO HOME *** USA 1966 Dir: Earl Bellamy. 96 mins
For the FIRST TIME EVER America’s funniest family bring their humour and antics to your screen in Technicolor. For some viewers stepping away from Black and White as the original run of The Munsters TV show (1964-1966) was shown in may feel a bit jarring, but it goes to show the faith that the studio had in producing this movie to reach a wider audience in International markets. Directed by Earl Bellamy who was already familiar with the content as he had directed a few episodes of the The Munsters TV series, MUNSTER, GO HOME follows The Munsters as they travel from America to England after Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) gets a letter telling him of his inheritance following the passing of his Uncle, Lord Cavanaugh Munster, thus making Herman the new Lord Munster of Munster Hall. Once they reach England, Herman meets his cousins who are less then happy that he has got the Lord title, especially cousin Freddie Munster (Terry-Thomas) who should have rightfully got the title. Now Freddie Munster, Grace Munster (Jeanne Arnold), Lady Effigie Munster (Hermione Gingold) and another entity only known as “The Griffin” will do everything they can to scare off Herman and his family back to America, allowing Freddie and co to claim what they should have already. There is a few side plots throughout including Marilyn Munster (Debbie Watson) falling in love with rich English man Roger Moresby (Robert Pine), whos family have a centuries old disdain for anything to do with The Munsters family. There is also “The Secret of Munster Hall” which turns out to be clever trick to keep the locals away from the mansion and finding out about the money laundering scheme in Munster Halls basement. We do see Herman and Grandpa Munster discover this counterfeiting ring. “The Griffin” devises a plan where it will take Rogers place in the race which “The Griffin” knows Herman, who has now taken the whole Lord thing to his head, will take part in the annual race knowing that he will do it for his family honour and “The Griffin” will aim to take care of Herman once and for all. This devious plan aims to make it look like Roger Moresby has killed Herman Munster and making the family rivalry continue, leaving the money laundering scheme to continue undetected.
For those unaware who The Munsters are this feature film does a good job of introducing the family to a new audience, but also walks the thin line of not alienating its core audience who know The Munsters back story already. All the main cast from the original series return except for Pat Priest who played Marilyn Munster in the TV series after Beverley Owen left after 13 episodes. With the studio wanting to have a younger star play Marilyn Munster they brought in Debbie Watson. Other then this casting change, the change from Black and White to Technicolor, this movie is very much The Munsters through and through. The humour from the TV series is there and this of course gave The Munsters fans a chance to see the DRAG-U-LA dragster in colour. Plus this movie has a wonderful cast featuring some of Britain’s best character actors of the time, Terry-Thomas and Hermione Gingold, a horror fans favourite in John Carradine playing the butler Cruikshank and of course the original remaining cast members of The Munsters that the series fans had grown to love. Unfortunately this movie did very little to wet the appetite straight away for more The Munsters mayhem whether that be in America or international markets as it would be a bit of a box office bomb but has become a bit of a Halloween movie staple. It wouldn’t be until 1973 with the one hour animated TV movie The Mini-Munsters, which featured Al Lewis voicing Grandpa, the only original member of The Munsters cast to return. Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster), Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster) and Al Lewis (Grandpa) did reunite one more time as The Munster family in the made for TV movie The Munsters’ Revenge (1981), Eddie Munster and Marilyn Munster would be recast for this movie. The Munsters would once again return to television screens between 1988 and 1991 with a whole new cast but keeping the vibe from the original show. While MUNSTER, GO HOME isn’t the film that audiences were possibly hoping for from this monstrous but hilarious family it is a fun film that serves as a suitable introduction to The Munsters and being a standalone film without you having to know much about The Munsters TV series. With Rob Zombie’s take on The Munsters introducing new audiences to this strange family it looks like a new generation will have their own version of The Munsters to enjoy and if they don’t enjoy that one there is plenty of other The Munsters movies and TV shows to check out.
Review by Peter ‘Witchfinder‘ Hopkins