• Munster, Go Home! (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: March 31st, 2019.
    Director: Earl Bellamy
    Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Debbie Watson, Butch Patrick. Terry-Thomas, Hermione Gingold, Richard Dawson, John Carradine
    Year: 1966
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    Munster, Go Home! – Movie Review:

    When director Earl Bellamy’s 1966 film begins, Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) comes home from work one day to learn that his uncle has passed away at his home in England and bequeathed his entire estate, including ‘Munster Hall,’ to Herman. Intrigued by the idea of being the new ‘Lord Munster,’ Herman gathers the family – wife Lily (Yvonne De Carlo), his son Eddie (Butch Patrick), his niece Marilyn (Debbie Watson, replacing Pat Priest who played the character in the original TV show) and, of course, Grandpa (Al Lewis) – and they split their California home and head to jolly old England to check out the scene. Along the way, Grandpa screws up his meds, takes the wrong pill and turns into a wolf, only to get locked in the ship’s cargo hold.

    Upon their arrival, they receive a less than warm welcome from Lady Effigy Munster (Hermione Gingold) and her son Freddie Munster (Terry-Thomas), the later of whom is quite upset that Herman was named the new Lord Munster in his stead. Meanwhile, Marilyn hits if off with a race car driver named Roger Moresby (Robert Pine), who made her acquaintance on the ship’s journey across the Atlantic, only to learn that his relatives, his father Squire Lester Moresby (Bernard Fox) in particular, have a bit of a ‘Hatfields/McCoys’ thing going on with the Munster family. While Effigy, Freddie and his sister Grace (Jeanne Arnold) unleash a plan to get rid of Herman and company, Herman himself winds up getting behind the wheel of Dragula and competing in a car race and working alongside Grandpa to uncover the truth about Munster Hall and what’s really going on in the basement there.

    If you dug the TV series that this was spun off of, it’s a very safe bet that you’ll get a kick out of this charmingly goofy film. Director Bellamy, who directed seven episodes of the original series, has a good feel for how to pace this and how to keep the tone right. Like the original TV series, the movie relies on a hammy mix of sight gags and puns for most of its humor but there’s a lot of very good-natured entertainment to be had here. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t get old over the ninety-seven-minute running time thanks to a decent script that keeps the story moving along nicely, even if almost all of the jokes are of the ‘fish out of water’ variety.

    The performances are what you’d expect. Gwynne is lovably dopey as Herman, and he’s a lot of fun to watch here, particularly in the racing sequences. Lewis is the perfect old rascal as Grandpa and De Carlo makes for an alluring vampiric matron. Patrick plays troublesome young Eddie well and Watson is a perfectly fine, if fairly vanilla, replacement Priest. The movie-specific cast members are also fun. Terry-Thomas does a great job as spoiled brat Freddie (you’ll laugh every time he says ‘mumsy’!), and Gingold delightfully snooty as his mother. Robert Pine is kind of bland as romantic lead Roger, but that’s got more to do with how his character is written than anything else. Also be on the lookout for small roles for John Carradine as the English Munsters’ man-servant, and Richard Dawson as a local thug.

    Munster, Go Home! – Blu-ray Review:

    Munster, Go Home! comes to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and their first color appearance (the original TV show was black and white) looks pretty decent. Some of the darker scenes are a little bit too dark but otherwise the Technicolor photography is reproduced rather nicely here. Green screen effects are obviously just that, but you can’t fault the transfer for that. The elements used were clearly in very nice shape as there isn’t much in the way of print damage here. Detail is pretty decent, if not reference quality, and there’s good texture here as well.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono mix. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. No problems here at all, the audio is clean and properly balanced. The dialog is easy to understand, the score sounds pretty decent too.

    The biggest of the extras on the disc is the inclusion of the bonus made for TV movie The Munsters’ Revenge from 1981, presented in 1.33.1 fullframe and taken from a new 2k scan. Audio is handled by a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono option. Optional subtitles are provided in English. Directed by Don Weis and released in 1981, this one features Gwynn, De Carlo and Lewis in their respective roles with Eddie Munster now played by K.C. Martel and Marilyn Munster played by Jo McDonnell.

    The plot of this feature length, ninety-six-minute movie is simple enough. A wax museum owner/mad scientist named Dr. Dustin Diablo (Sid Caesar) sets up an exhibit based on The Munsters, even creating robotic versions of some of them, like Herman and Grandpa for example… that he then uses to steal a massive amount of jewels. This, of course, leads to the media and the general public at large believing that the real Herman and Grandpa are the thieves in question, at which point the Munsters have to set out to solve the case and clear their name.

    This is an amusing picture featuring most of the original cast members. Not a classic, but worth seeing for fans of the series thanks primarily to the chemistry that exists between Gwynne, Lewis and De Carlo. The three of them are quite good here, though some might be put off by the replacements used for Eddie (Butch Patrick was just too old to play the part here) and Marilyn (who had been replaced prior – but again, people age when characters do not). Not every gag works, in fact, only a slight majority do, but there are moments here where the sixties’ Munsters magic is noticeable and in those moments, you can’t help but smile. De Carlo is noticeably underused and Caesar is mostly just flat out bad here, but Gwynne and Lewis get enough screen time to make this watchable, if never great.

    The disc also includes a new audio commentary with actor Butch Patrick and musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie. They talk about how and why the movie came to exist as a promotional tour to get The Munsters TV show into syndication, how the ratings on the show weren't great, the locations and sets used on the shoot (and how the Munster's house on the Universal lot has an interior now), how and why Debby Watson came to be replaced by Pat Priest, how and why horror movie fans have come to love the series so much, the cars used in the film, how Butch's purple suit was new for the movie and how he got along with Watson, how Rob Zombie came to know and love the series after getting a Munsters model kit, Al Lewis' notoriously crazy persona, how as a child actor he wasn't really involved in the promotion of the movie or TV series, how the show did in the ratings, and how with the movie having been out of circulation for so long fan response to this and other Munsters material has been insanely positive. It’s a fun and very fast-paced track absolutely packed with information.

    There are some other extras of note here as well, including eighteen-minutes’ worth of vintage cast radio interviews courtesy of Kevin Burns. Fred Gwynne goes first and speaks about the makeup require for the TV series versus the movie, the differences between the show and the movie, and how his makeup allowed him to retain his anonymity when going out in public. De Carlo is up next, talking about bringing beauty to the role of Lily Munster, the makeup that she had to use in the series, her car used in the show, what the film can offer that the series couldn’t. After that we hear from Al Lewis about what makes Grandpa an odd character, differences between shooting the show and the movie and how Grandpa has set himself up to be surrounded by women even more beautiful than those seen in the James Bond movies! Lewis is a kick and a real treat to listen to. Last but not least we hear from Debbie Watson about career advice, the importance of getting an education, the teenage rebellion of style and taste, her thoughts on what makes the Munsters TV series as funny as it is and what it was like doing her first on-screen kiss in the movie.

    Rounding out the extras are some radio spots for the feature, a theatrical trailer and some impressive still galleries pertaining to both films on the disc. Menus and chapter selection options are also provided.

    Munster, Go Home! – The Final Word:

    Munster, Go Home! is a pretty fun watch and Shout! Factory has done a nice job bringing the movie to Blu-ray with a great commentary and a complete second feature as well. The presentation is pretty solid and the extras quite interesting. Plenty of family-friendly entertainment to be had with this one!

    Click on the images below for full sized Munster, Go Home! Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Colourized Munsters are so odd-looking!