Welcome to Commentary Commentary, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work, then share the most interesting parts. In this edition, Rob Hunter listens to Rob Zombie talk about Munster, Go Home!
The Munsters ran for two seasons back in the 60s, but that still amounts to a whopping 70 episodes as times were pretty different back then. The show fared well enough during its run, but it found its greatest success in the decades since thanks to syndication deals, marketing, and airings on Nick at Nite. The show’s initial cancellation was followed by a theatrical film, and it’s just gotten a nice new Blu-ray release from the fine folks at Scream Factory.
The extras include a bonus movie and more, but it’s the commentary we’re interested in thanks in large part to an unexpected presence — Rob Zombie. So keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for…
Munster, Go Home! (1966)
Commentators: Butch Patrick (actor), Rob Zombie (fan), Justin Beahm (moderator)
1. The series’ move to the big screen came about after the show was canceled having been trounced by Batman. The hope was the film would introduce the series to the world in advance of negotiating future syndication rights.
2. The original Munster’s house on Universal’s back lot has gone through various changes, but it now looks more like its most recent variation as the main house in ABC’s Desperate Housewives. The house’s first appearance was in Abbott & Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951).
3. Unlike the rest of the main cast, Pat Priest didn’t return to play Marilyn and was instead replaced by Debbie Watson, and it pissed young Zombie off as a kid. “They told Pat she was too old,” says Patrick, so Universal brought in Watson as a way to promote her upcoming series called Tammy. “It’s pretty crummy,” adds Zombie (about the switch, not Tammy).
4. The series is black & white so for the color movie “they really kicked it up a notch” in regard to their bold outfits. Patrick’s suit here is a bright purple, but on the show it was actually “a gray mushroom color.”
5. The legendary John Carradine was one of Patrick’s favorite guest stars from the show, and he returns here as a different character.
6. They all share compliments for Fred Gwynne, and Patrick recalls running into Robert Wuhl who took the opportunity to ask if he was aware as a child just how great Gwynne was.
7. Zombie makes a good point regarding the 60s being a period of actors being “stuck” with their characters from Adam West as Batman to Barbara Eden as Jeannie. Gwynne wasn’t a fan of his alter ego for quite some time, but he came to grips with Herman in the later years of his life.
8. Patrick was never an “actor actor” and was instead only in it hoping to fund his race car aspirations.
9. Some people have commented to Patrick about being lucky to visit England for the shoot, but he lets them down with the Hollywood reality that it’s all filmed on the studio lot.
10. The number one question Patrick is asked these days is “Where is Woof Woof?” The answer is that Eddie’s werewolf doll is in a private museum (?) in Indiana.
11. Patrick’s makeup took an hour each day, but Gwynne’s took twice as long.
12. Chris Pine is Robert Pine’s (Empire of the Ants, 1977; CHiPs, 1977-1983) son?!
13. Zombie’s first encounter with The Munsters was through a model kit of the living room, and as an adult he visited Al Lewis‘ restaurant.
14. Patrick’s role was originally planned for Bill Mumy, but he turned it down as he didn’t want to be in makeup. Then it went to Nate “Happy” Derman who was passed on by the network.
15. Neither Gwynne nor Lewis wanted Yvonne De Carlo as Lily because they felt she couldn’t do comedy, but they were quickly proven wrong.
16. Zombie used the Munster’s Coach in his “Dragula” music video because the actual Dragula was out on tour.
17. Zombie says the biggest influence he took away from horror films and TV shows like The Munsters is the idea that “the weird characters who were put upon were sympathetic… that’s who you side with.” He also makes the interesting (and true) distinction that as kids they would call them “monster movies” as opposed to horror.
18. Patrick got into the acting business unintentionally as his picture was taken during a photo shoot for his sister, hung in the photographer’s window, and noticed by someone casting The Two Little Bears (1961).
19. The Dragula car is modified with a real coffin.
20. The Munster car and Christine “are the two cars I’ve been in love with all my life,” says Zombie.
21. Talking about how cool, iconic cars are something of a lost art now — they mention that the likes of The A-Team van and the Knight Rider car are the most recent ones that caught the public’s attention — Zombie adds that “Cars are so boring now.” He laments how mundane it is now while looking for his car in a parking lot. This image makes me laugh aloud as someone who recently acquired a ubiquitous silver Honda CR-V. Celebrities… they really are just like us!
22. The horse sequence leads Zombie to recall the time he used one of the animals on Halloween II (2009). “The horse was massive, and the little kid playing Michael Myers had started petting the horse and wasn’t paying attention, and his entire hand was in the horse… and the horse was eating his hand.”
23. Patrick auditioned for The Cowboys (1972) with John Wayne but was told he wasn’t “rough-looking enough.”
24. Universal tried to revive the show with 2012’s Mockingbird Lane — co-written by Bryan Fuller and directed by Bryan Singer — but NBC didn’t pick it up for a series.
25. The Wayans brothers held the rights to The Munsters for a while but never moved forward on anything, and now Seth Meyers has them. He apparently wants to move the family to Brooklyn?
26. Beverly Owen played Marilyn in the first thirteen episodes, but she wanted out for various personal reasons. Producers didn’t want to let her go from a hit show, but Gwynne and Lewis drew a line and said they would quit if the show didn’t release her.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“How long did you have to lay in that drawer?”
“Watching tortured animals in captivity is not fun. That’s what turned me into a vegetarian when I was a kid.”
“I need more Raymond Burr!”
“He’s such a freak.”
“I like Zorro better than the Lone Ranger.”
The film is a fun little throwback to simpler times, and these guys are clearly fans to this day. Beahm only chimes in periodically with comments and questions, but both Zombie and Patrick are clearly enjoying this as a ride down memory lane from both a fan and a star. Zombie’s knowledge of the show is impressive enough, but Patrick remains a walking encyclopedia on the topic with memories of the shows, talents, and times. It’s a fun listen and highly recommended for fans.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.