Release Date(s)1966 (March 31, 2020)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Shout/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: C+
The success of The Munsters during its initial run on TV from 1964 to 1966 was such that it prompted Universal to produce a movie. It would feature almost all of the current cast (aside from Marilyn who has been portrayed by a number of different women since the show’s inception), but would also feature the beloved undead family in full color for the first time. Though it was a box office disappointment, it did help the show’s chances for eventual syndication.
Herman has inherited title and fortune from a wealthy dead relative in England, meaning that the family must pack up and travel there, not knowing that the other members of his British family, jealous of his inheritance, plan to either do him in or scare him and his family away. Their presence would also disrupt a secret illegal operation within Munster Hall’s walls. Meanwhile, Marilyn becomes infatuated with the young man of a rival family who despise the Munsters and challenge them to a drag race, of which Herman is convinced to eventually take part in.
For all of its simplistic charm, Munster, Go Home! is a long-form, mediocre episode of the original show, complete with the Benny Hill type sped-up running away by strangers who are horrified by the sight of the Munsters, as well as the show’s simple dissolve transitions. It never rises above or below it’s source in terms of quality, outside of the novelty of seeing these characters in Technicolor. The good news is that Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, and Butch Patrick are all present and accounted for (with the role of Marilyn taken over by one-and-done Debbie Watson). In addition, the new cast members include familiar faces like John Carradine, Terry-Thomas, Hermoine Gingold, Bernard Fox, Robert Pine, and even Richard Dawson, of all people.
As a bonus, this Blu-ray release also includes the latter TV movie The Munsters’ Revenge from 1981. According to the artwork, it has been taken from a new 2K scan of what one can assume either the original camera negative or an interpositive element. Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis, and Yvonne De Carlo reprise their roles (with K.C. Martel standing in for Eddie Munster and Jo McDonnell taking over for Marilyn) in a lifeless case-of-mistaken-identity story in which Herman and Grandpa must clear their names as they’ve been accused of terrorizing the city. The pratfalls, the goofball moments, and the dead humor (no pun intended), not to mention the obvious age of the actors, bury this one too deeply for redemption.
The presentation of Munster, Go Home! on Blu-ray, courtesy of Scream Factory, appears to be taken from an older master of the material. Even so, it’s a strong effort in terms of its color palette. As previously mentioned, the film was shot in Technicolor and many of the bold hues and varieties of saturation are on full display. The interiors of the Munsters’ home are awash in greens, pinks, and blues, and their visit overseas is ripe with potent swatches of red and green. Grain levels are a bit on the chunky side, and there’s a slight softness due to the age of the scan. Black levels are decent, giving shadow detail enough room to breathe, while overall brightness and contrast levels are ideal. The material is in great shape as well. It’s stable and mostly clean, aside from occasional speckling.
The audio is provided in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD with subtitles in English SDH. It’s not a bombastic track by any means, but dialogue exchanges are clean and clear, while the film’s zany mix of sound effects, particularly during Herman’s and Grandpa’s sillier incidents, are reproduced well. The score is the most boastful of all, given an ample amount of space and actually outshining all of the other elements. It’s also a clean track, free of any leftover hiss or distortion.
The following extras have also been included:
- The Munsters’ Revenge (HD – 1:36:14)
- Audio Commentary with Butch Patrick, Rob Zombie, and Justin Beahm
- Cast Radio Interviews (HD – 17:59)
- Radio Spots (HD – 4 in all – 2:26)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:49)
- Munster, Go Home! Still Gallery (HD – 125 in all – 11:53)
- Munster, Go Home! Behind the Scenes Still Gallery (HD – 39 in all – 3:49)
- Munster, Go Home! Poster Still Gallery (HD – 53 in all – 5:08)
- Munster’s Revenge Still Gallery (HD – 67 in all – 6:27)
The audio commentary with Butch Patrick and Rob Zombie is a lively discussion about the history of the film and Butch Patrick’s work on it, with Justin Beahm occasionally stepping in to ask questions during quieter moments. It’s an excellent commentary as the three address many facets of both the show and the film, and actually surpasses the film in terms of entertainment value. The interviews include Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, and Debbie Watson promoting the film in a series of separate radio appearances. After a few radio spots and the original theatrical trailer, there is an extensive set of still galleries, covering everything from promotional photos, behind the scenes stills, marketing materials, posters, and lobby cards.
Both Munster, Go Home! and The Munsters’ Revenge coming to Blu-ray are a real treat for die-hard fans who have been patiently waiting from them to make the leap to high definition (here’s hoping that the original series is not far behind). Their Blu-ray debut is a nice release, even if the films themselves aren’t all that terrific.
– Tim Salmons