Munster A-Go-Go

In the 1960s there were a couple of haunted house television comedies that, if for only a short time, dominated their time slots. “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family” both premiered in September 1964. The series in question asked how would a family of monsters look and act in normal circumstance.

While “The Munsters” was an original concept, and exceeded its competition in ratings, “The Addams Family” was inspired by cartoons, created by Charles Addams, that appeared in the New Yorker starting in the late-1930s.

Both macabre nuclear units are making a renaissance in 2022. Regarding “The Addams Family” more down the road.

“The Munsters” are now in vogue courtesy of a Rob Zombie reboot of the series. Herman Munster and his wife Lily live with their slightly abnormal yet pacified grandparent in a mansion that would garner repeat visits for Halloween spooky yards.

Disregard the previous history of such stalwarts of acting as Fred Gwynne, and Al Lewis (both actors had appeared in the cop comedy “Car 54, Where Are You?” that ran for two seasons starting in 1961). Add sultry heartthrob Yvonne De Carlo who’d wowed in films from the late ’40s and on, and you got a fully functioning freaky family.

The thing about Zombie’s (that’s not his real name) version is that it encapsulates the look of 1960s soap opera television with its shallow depth of focus and generic framing. More than a nod to “The Munsters” the new incarnation achieves the after-school look of “Dark Shadows.” Everything feels like it was shot with studio television cameras on sets from the mid-1960s. Zombie has mastered this slightly less than average production with a television sheen.

Currently streaming on Netflix “The Munsters” works as a casual slide-wink tribute to an oldie. But perhaps an entirely new vision emerges.

Coincidentally a television special broadcast on Easter Sunday in 1965 featured our heroes The Munsters at an aquatic park: “Marineland Carnival: The Munsters Visit Marineland.” The DVD release from MPI Home Video offers the television special as well as clips of Gwynne and De Carlo as guest on shows hosted by Danny Kaye and Red Skelton.

The special was basically a 1960s infomercial presented on a mainstream platform to cross promote “The Munsters” and Marineland, a town in Florida, with performing sea creatures including dolphins as well as professional swimmers performing athletic feats. High dives may deliver thrills but dolphin antics elicit emotions.

The Munsters are portrayed as tourists having a fun day at the marine park. The DVD also includes a new featurette with Butch Patrick; along with multiple promotional spots for “The Munsters” TV show

Fun times for all.

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