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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Munsters: Scary Little Christmas (1996)
(2019 Reissue)


Starring: Sam McMurray, Ann Magnuson, Sandy Baron, Elaine Hendrix and Bug Hall
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £9.99
Certificate: U
Release Date: 24 June 2019

The Munsters have a dilapidated, scary gothic mansion. It’s what they call home, but wolf boy Eddie feels, literarily, far from home. He misses Transylvania and his friends. Whilst the others – Herman in particular – are excited at the approach of Christmas, their son feels only maudlin and miserable. Undaunted, Herman, wife Lily, Grandpa, and Marilyn hatch a plan to make this the best Christmas ever. Lily involves Eddie in the festive decoration of the exterior of the house – including giant spider-webs and a guillotine constantly beheading snowmen – blissfully unaware there is a neighbourhood competition going on, and a very competitive previous winner. Grandpa uses his alchemy but inadvertently transports Santa and two elves to the Munster mansion. Although Herman in particular is ecstatic to meet Santa, Grandpa’s potions not only fail to return him to the North Pole, but make matters significantly worse. Can they save Christmas even though Santa has no presents to deliver? It looks even more unlikely when the elves become rebels and go to the local biker’s bar...

For anyone who has no idea what the Munsters are all about, it’s a happy but dysfunctional family of monsters. Herman is to all intents and purposes Frankenstein’s monster, Lily is a Goth vampire, and Eddie a werewolf. Marilyn is the only ‘normal’ member, being a beautiful blonde woman. The twist is that they believe Marilyn to be the one unlucky in looks, to the point she believes it herself. The series ran from 1964 to 1966, when the new Batman series arrived and grabbed all the ratings. There was a 1966 film called Munster, Go Home!, and The Munsters Revenge in 1981. Here Come the Munsters (1995) has a completely different cast from the series and previous movies. So when The Munsters Scary Little Christmas emerged the following year, the cast were ready to reprise their roles. But when one of them asked for more money the producers reduced the salary for the others, which upset them enough to decide not to do the film. Accordingly, a whole new cast was taken on. It will probably be seen as sacrilege by fans of the series, but to a casual viewer such as myself I didn’t really notice the difference.

This is a strange one to get to grips with, in terms of humour balance. Apart from the curious fact this is a Christmas film being released in the Summer, the dialogue and visual gags run hot and cold. There are some genuinely funny moments; one-liners and gags, my favourite being how Herman reacts when he walks past fire or a sconce: (pawing at the flames) “Argh, argghh!” The carol singers getting partway through a song and then screaming and running away when they see Herman is also well done (“I’m never going to hear one all the way through!”). There is a lot of silly stuff too, not least being when Santa is turned into different items by Grandpa’s alchemy – including a large fruit pudding with a hat.

It’s not giving much away to reveal that the Munsters win the decoration prize when it snows over their house. A gift from Santa. But when Santa offers a seat alongside him on the sleigh, you would think Eddie would be allowed to go, not Herman. The only thing that cheers Eddie up in the end is the surprise Christmas party Lily has arranged. This is the highlight of the film, as all their old friends turn up for a shindig: the Mummy, the Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and many more. The costumes and make-up for these sequences are very good, and would probably look even better in their original film black and white.

This isn’t the best film in the world but it does hold your attention and offer some light-hearted entertainment. No extras.


Ty Power

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