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  Munster, Go Home! Monster Times
Year: 1966
Director: Earl Bellamy
Stars: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, Debbie Watson, Terry-Thomas, Hermione Gingold, Robert Pine, John Carradine, Bernard Fox, Richard Dawson, Jeanne Arnold, Maria Lennard, Cliff Norton, Diana Chesney
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: A hearse pulls up in front of 1313 Mockingbird Lane and the undertakers get out, open the back and take out the corpse inside as a bystander respectfully removes his hat - then is mightily alarmed when the body turns out to be alive, green and nine feet tall. He is Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne), the owner of the house, getting a lift back from work; he walks through the front door to be shocked by the face looming out of the shadows towards him, but it's okay, it's only his wife Lily (Yvonne De Carlo), and she has news for him. The rest of the family have gathered in the living room for a reading of a will belonging to Herman's late uncle: what will it say?

It will say that in a style reminiscent of the British sitcom movies that were about to arrive with a vengeance in the next five years, this particular comedy family were going on holiday. The deceased was an English Lord, you see, and he has insisted that Herman take on his title, so the Munsters all pack their bags and leave for the United Kingdom, or that's the idea except judging by that sunshine beaming down they are in the Californian district of Britain. Shroudshire is its name, blessed with a very strange variety of accents, although some are authentic, such as the one belonging to the main bad guy, Terry-Thomas playing cousin Freddie Munster.

Although he is in the film for about half the running time, maybe more, everyone's favourite cad seems underused, called on to overact in some bratty gags but sidelined for much of the action, despite it being Freddie's plans that get carried out. Before all that occurs, the family of the title have to reach their destination which means a lot of luxury cruise based antics (well, Herman is rich now) as they try to blend in with the other passengers. The biggest difference between this and the television series was not so much the more ambitious plot, but the fact that it was shot in colour so we could see the bright green (actually more a pale blue) of the main cast's makeup without having to take it on trust.

Well, the main cast apart from Marilyn, who here was played not by the series regular Pat Priest, but by Debbie Watson, stepping in because her bosses wanted someone younger in the role, and she was being built up for stardom which as it turned out never really arrived. Watson's appearance in the movie has been a sticking point for many of the show's fans, but she does not disgrace herself by any means, and provides a perky presence who takes care of any romantic business as it seems to have been judged that Herman and Lily are beyond such sentimentalism. Well, not quite, as they are quite touched when they settle down in their country house to find Freddie's attempts to scare them away remind them of home comforts.

Munster, Go Home! does feel like a ninety minute episode, as the budget looks to have been the same, but if the laughs don't quite come as regularly as you might like, the same easygoing, broad humour is very much in place. Al Lewis as Herman's vampiric father-in-law Grandpa (who would never dream of biting anyone, we're sure) has the same great rapport with Gwynne, and you can tell they enjoyed sparking off each other during the routines the writers offered them, while Butch Patrick as son Eddie has a fun bit with Terry-Thomas when he wants his werewolf doll to be kissed goodnight. It all builds to a harebrained scheme that sees Herman entering a car race in a converted coffin which is at least bright and eventful, if not exactly taxing, something that could apply to the rest of the film as well. There were worse transitions from the small screen to the big, even if this effort's natural home was television. Music by Jack Marshall.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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