Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Munsters' Revenge – review

dvdDirector: Don Weis

Release date: 1981

Contains spoilers

The Munster’s Revenge was the second cinematic outing for Fred Gwynne as Herman, Yvonne De Carlo as Lily and Al Lewis as Grandpa. Unfortunately it was some 15 years after Munster’s Go Home and sometimes it might be best to leave things alone.

marilyn and eddieBecause of the years that had passed Butch Patrick did not return as Eddie, and rather than suggest that the years had moved on the producers brought in child actor K C Martell. We also get a new Marilyn in the form of Jo McDonnell. Neither worked for me, both too sassy and, well, eighties. They lost the point of the characters – though it did mean Marilyn was more active within this show than perhaps the character had been previously. Eddie may as well have not been there for the story impact he had.

Lily and MarilynIndeed even Yvonne De Carlo is sidelined heavily in this. The producers very much concentrated on Herman and Grandpa’s antics and, in doing so, offered the film perhaps a little more life than it should have had as Gwynne and Lewis hammed it up for all their worth, capturing the two characters with their usual aplomb. Just as well, you see the story wasn’t much to write home about.

A dummy with a dummyThe Munsters are on a family outing at a wax museum. They come across a waxwork model of themselves… well, almost as Marilyn isn’t depicted but that seems obvious to Herman as the museum wouldn’t want to scare away customers. They try and get a picture with their counterparts and then the museum closes for the night.

bloodied fangsAfter everyone has gone a man enters and throws a switch. Many of the monster waxworks – including the Herman and Grandpa waxworks – come to life as they are robotic. The Wolfman, Herman and Grandpa are sent off into the night. Wolfman seems to raid a mob card game, Herman steals guard uniforms and Grandpa steals a car belonging to a couple – the waxwork of Grandpa has blood dripping from fangs.

Glen and the Phantom of the OperaThe family are getting ready to celebrate Halloween. Cousin Phantom of the Opera (bob Hastings) has already arrived and they are suitably fouling up (without realising it) another of Marilyn’s dates when the police raid the house and Grandpa and Herman are taken in. They are arguing their innocence and whilst the chief (Herb Voland) doesn’t believe them his son (and new detective) Glen (Peter Fox) does – especially when Marilyn pleads their case.

Al Lewis as GrandpaHowever, witnesses finger the two – Grandpa is astounded at the blood dripping from fangs description, he’s been on the wagon for 12 months and going to BDA (Blood Drinkers Anonymous). Unfortunately a wasp gets in Herman’s suit and he smashes the police station. The two get thrown into jail. Grandpa realises that they will have to clear their own names and eventually they escape.

Sid Caeser as Dr Dustin DiabloFrom then on in there are all sorts of escapades including dressing up as waitresses and flying off to Transylvania (for a short moment that includes an angry peasant mob) whilst they try to foil the plans of Dr Dustin Diablo (Sid Caeser) – a jewel thief who aims to steal Egyptian artefacts with the robots as he believes himself the brother of the mummy.

All in all this only works because of Gwynne and Lewis. The story is corny and the family (all told) are sidelined. We get Grandpa turning into a bat – and it is a moment of Crap bat Syndrome, with visible wire, that is actually a worse effect than those examples in the original show. Herman crosses his fingers at one point and Grandpa tells him “no crosses”.

Worth watching for the two principles, who drag this to 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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