One of my favorite qualities of “Munster Go Home!” is that it advances the mythology the Munsters, and extends their family bloodline. Unlike the Addams family, the Munsters aren’t all monsters. And Herman is actually the Frankenstein monster, except he was adopted by the Munster family and given their last name, hence his namesake. That doesn’t explain why grandpa is called Grandpa Munster, but hey, this is a family with a vampire mom and werewolf son, so you have to suspend some kind of disbelief here and there. “Munster, Go Home!” was a flop initially, which is sad considering the film really lends merit to the original series. It improves on its universe while keeping everything that made the original series so lovable.
There’s even a really funny gag in the opening where Herman is driven home in a hearse and carried out on a plank. A neighbor watches convinced he’s a dead body and when Herman rises to thank his drivers, the neighbor’s umbrella pops like a bottle cap prompting him to flee. It’s one of the funnier gags in a movie filled with madcap humor and the classic Munsters characters. In a plot often reserved for later episodes in other series, this movie catches the Munsters breaking out of their Mockingbird Lane home to travel abroad. When Herman receives a will from Cavanaugh Munster in England that they’ve inherited his mansion, Herman and the family travel by boat to England. There Herman is fated to become a lord, and to amass immense wealth.
Things don’t go exactly as planned though, as Herman’s cousin wants to become a lord, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure Herman doesn’t arrive to the mansion. This includes sneaking a bomb in a basket of fruit that narrowly misses the brood. Of course everything about the Munsters’ trip involves close calls, as there are constant assassination attempts and ploys to ensure that they don’t stick around to collect on the will and make Herman a lord. With the color film, we get to see the Munsters in their full glory. The film has a bigger budget, but sadly misses some opportunities here and there. We get to see Grandpa turn in to a wolf, but never Eddie. But that’s only a small caveat in a film that features one of the funnier gags of the series. In an effort to fright the Munsters out, the extended Munster family plants a bunch of fake ghosts and props around their room hoping to frighten them back home.
Instead the props and stunts are greeted with claps and joyous laughs by Herman and Lily, both of whom mistake the pranks for loving gestures by their bloodline. Fred Gwynne doesn’t miss a beat with his reprisal of Herman Munster. His expressiveness matched with the ace make up, makes Herman a very non-threatening hero in a family of monsters. His claps of joy and ability to find the fun out of literally anything is a great character trait that plays on the Monster’s ability to be child-like in many ways. Surely he has moments of maturity, but it’s his childish temper tantrums and giddy claps that make Herman so lovable. The rest of the original cast is back, save for Lily, who is now played well by Debbie Watson. Her place here is to fall for a drag racer set to compete against Herman, all the while the Munsters fight to keep their inherited mansion and take part in the climactic drag race through England.
The Munsters were always the less threatening versions of the Addams family, but the much more charming of the pair. Whether you’re an Addams Family fan or a Munster fan depends on your level of enjoyment for “Munster, Go Home!” While the film does have its fair share of raunchy humor here and there, the movie itself is fairly harmless family fare. It’s loyal to the source material and is very much of its decade. Take for example the finale where a drag race prompts Grandpa Munster to whip out the mythos’ famed car “Dragula.” As many horror buffs know, the car only gets a small amount of screen time, but became a staple for the Munster universe prompting all sorts of merchandise. Hell, there’s even a bad ass song named after it. “Munster, Go Home!” is a fine and fun adaptation of the original series, and one that brings the brood in feature length, full color, and with the cast back in their respective roles without a hitch.