Rob Zombie’s The Munsters must include Herman Munster’s perfect message to audiences to channel the nature of the whimsically morbid sitcom. Based on the original TV series, The Munsters promises to be a modern take on classic characters. While Zombie’s promotional materials are a homage to the past, the question remains if he’ll remember the most important lesson the Transylvanian-American family had to teach.
Premiering in 1964, The Munsters had a new take on the classic Universal Monsters, removing them from their traditional role as horror movie villains. Starring television icons such as Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, and Al Lewis, below The Munsters’ sitcom jokes and creepy aesthetics, it was about a loving family with some strange ideas of what was considered “normal.” After its cancellation in 1966, The Munsters later had multiple movies, spinoffs, and reimaginings, cementing their place in pop culture.
Satirizing sitcoms and reflecting the era’s social changes, for something considered so wholesome and campy, The Munsters were groundbreaking with messages that are still relevant today. Ideas such as families aren’t one-size-fits-all, and the concept of “normal” being relative became part of a kooky gothic TV movement shared with The Addams Family. However, the entire series’ credo can be summarized in The Munsters, Season 1, Episode 19, “Eddie’s Nickname,” through Herman Munster. If Rob Zombie is to honor what made the show great and reinforce why the Munster family is still needed today, the secret is in Herman’s iconic speech about acceptance, self-worth, and content of character.
For a family of classic universal monsters, the cast are more human and insightful than most initially expect; it’s what helped make characters like Herman, Grandpa, and Lily so timeless, sympathetic, and fun. They faced more than their share of challenges from people who didn’t quite understand their offbeat lifestyle, which sometimes came with discrimination. In the previously mentioned episode, young Eddie Munster struggled with his self-image after being bullied for it. Attempting to change his appearance with Grandpa’s potions, hijinks ensued for Eddie, but at the end of them, Herman gave these words of wisdom: “The lesson I want you to learn is it doesn’t matter what you look like: tall or short or fat or thin, ugly or handsome, like your father. You could be black or yellow or white; it doesn’t matter,” Herman explained; before concluding: “What does matter is the size of your heart and the strength of your character.” The series’ message was as pertinent then as it is now, reflecting the civil rights movements at the time, and since then has gone viral (via Youtube).
When attempting a reboot like The Munsters, it’s fair for the audience to ask why the series needs a reboot. In the case of Rob Zombie’s The Munsters, if there was any point that needs reinforcing, it’s that the frightful family are still as relevant today as they were in the ‘60s. A reminder of Herman’s message about being a good person and that there’s more to a book than what’s on the cover would serve as a meaningful undercurrent to the comedy the reboot is sure to bring.
Rob Zombie’s The Munsters are returning, hopefully with full hearts, open minds, and everything needed to create a monster hit. Herman and his family still have a lot to teach those willing to lend an ear, with words of wisdom and a few laughs along the way. Perhaps the lesson to be learned by Rob Zombie’s reboot is that some values are as immortal and timeless as the Munster family themselves.
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Author: Spencer Bollettieri