The Munsters

Wicked Wednesday: The Mini-Munsters (1973)

Children’s spooky stuff is a treasure. Trying to get my nephews to agree with this sentiment has been a challenge. How do you get kids to watch spooky things?

I guess the answer is: you don’t. My nephews had zero interest in watching anything horror-related with me this week. I explained that, no we can’t watch Nightmare Before Christmas. And no, Vivo and Minecraft don’t count for Auntie Krista’s blog.

So I ended up watching my children’s TV movie all by myself this week. A reboot of a favourite of mine, The Munsters, in animated form.

The Mini-Munsters is set sometime after the original Munsters show. Eddie is a petulant teenager here.

When his family get a letter from a Transylvanian relative, they learn that the cousin twins Igor and Lucretia are visiting. Eddie is convinced it’s going to be a drag, until he sees that they’re his age and totally groovy (my words, not his).

The three cousins start a band. They annoy the family, especially as the kids seem to do nothing but play. Herman gets them to finally stop once he mentions that Eddie gets to get a car for his sixteenth birthday. He picked out a hearse, much to the delight of his father.

Once the kids are out in the car, they quickly realise they’re out of gas…and the car is haunted by a funeral director. They play some music (because…they’re waiting?), and the car gets rolling.

Grandpa reveals to the family that his latest invention seems to be powered by music. It allows cars to run on fresh tunes instead of gasoline.

While this is great news for the environment (and Grandpa’s pockets), but it doesn’t bring joy to a group of local gangsters who own an oil refinery. The leader, Mr Murdoch, learns of the invention and challenges the kids to a race. Because the 70s.

During the race, the usual shenanigans and hijinks ensue. Cars in lakes. Cars stuck in high places. Cars running on music.

The win gets Grandpa’s invention publicity. It becomes a hit, and soon everyone’s cars are running on the music. Murdoch begins plotting his revenge, and ends up kidnapping the Munsters’ pet, Spot, for ransom money.

The kids find Spot eventually but are locked in a shed with him. They manage to escape (with the power of jokes!), but not before Grandpa destroys his invention to stop Murdoch’s evil plan. The kids become stranded in a tugboat, heading towards a falls. It’s up to Grandpa to fix his invention in time and save the day.

The pilot TV movie for The Mini-Munsters aired on ABC in 1973 as a Saturday Superstar Movie. Its life ended there, though, as it wasn’t picked up for a series. And it’s kind of easy to see why. On the surface, this has everything: Scooby-Doo meets Josie and Archie. Crime solving with music and monsters. Sounds perfect.

This story is a bit half-baked. Adorable animation (reminded me of Schoolhouse Rock on Halloween), definitely, but I found myself bored throughout most of this.

Also, where was Marilyn? A mistake to leave her off, for sure! But I was glad that Al Lewis’s likeness and voice was used here. He lifted everything. That man was seriously a treasure and already has an animated face in real life.

The Mini-Munsters will probably only be really interesting to completionists who want to watch all-things Munsters. This is definitely a cute idea, and it would be great to see it tried again. We can ax the band and focus on what makes us love this IP to begin with: the family.

Simple brilliance of surf Munsters

themunsters

To a procrastinator’s delight, both seasons of The Munsters are on Netflix. Those delightful 70 episodes do go by quickly, but they are the perfect distraction while applying endlessly to jobs (someone hire me, please). The comedy is bright and a really clever twist on the working-class American family. The characters are unforgettable and pretty well developed for its time.

Although shortly-lived, viewers are graced with what is possibly one of the best theme tunes ever. It might be a bit strange to chat about “favourite theme songs to television shows.” But this is genuinely a great one worth listening to even when not catching the mishaps of the Munster family.

Unlike some shows, the theme for The Munsters isn’t obnoxious in a way that makes the brain scream in agony. It has a Duane Eddy vibe, which is perfect match for a 1960s horror-comedy. Pair that guitar line with the psychedelic organ and it’s a match made (rock and horror have always made the best combinations). I have listened to it about 20 times over the course of writing this post and only wish it was a bit longer. The Addams Family tune is probably more recognizable, but I quite like the simple playfulness in those 45 seconds.

Plus it’s a theme that you can twist to. Always a bonus.