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THE MUNSTERS’ SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS – **

Directed by Ian Emes. Starring Sam McMurray, Ann Magnuson, Bug Hall, Elaine Hendrix, Sandy Baron, Ed Gale. Horror/Comedy, USA, 90 mins, cert U.

Released in the UK on DVD by Fabulous Films on 24th June 2019.

 

Originally coming out a year after America's first family of fright returned to screens in the HERE COME THE MUNSTERS TV movie in 1995, THE MUNSTERS' SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS sees the groovy ghoulies getting another facelift as the iconic characters are re-cast (again) for another crazy caper, this time set at Christmas so watching it in June during a heat wave doesn’t quite have the same seasonal appeal as watching it on a cold December evening in front of a roaring fire with a glass of mulled wine.

 

But no matter as this is The Munsters, that fun-loving spooky family from those old black-and-white TV shows from the 1960s, all brought up to date(ish) and ready to get themselves into more mischief. Here, young Eddie Munster (Bug Hall – THE STUPIDS) is having a hard time adjusting to life in sunny California and misses his Transylvanian homeland so his father Herman (Sam McMurray – RAISING ARIZONA) decides that what his unhappy son needs is the most popular children’s toy of the season - a Marquis De Sade board game (which is something we probably all secretly want). Meanwhile, Grandpa Munster (Sandy Baron – VAMP) is trying to use his magical powers to make it snow, accidentally transporting Santa Claus and two of his elves from their wintry wonderland to the family house in the process, and Lily Munster (Ann Magnuson – PANIC ROOM) gets involved with the local community by entering a Christmas decoration competition with the neighbours.

 

And that’s about it. THE MUNSTERS’ SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS is the poorest kind of TV-show-to-movie adaption in that it is basically an episode of the show stretched out to 90 minutes, making the jokes wear thin pretty quickly before the inevitable quick wrap up with everyone loving Christmas in their own peculiar way. Not having any one particular plot thread or storyline to it makes it feel messy and just as you feel like all of the characters’ individual stories are going to tie together... they don’t, or at least not in any satisfactory way, giving the film the feel of a sketch show that has been jumbled up out of order.

 

The obvious discussion point of any post-1960s MUNSTERS-related product is the cast and how they are in their respective roles, and that is also the reason that pretty much all of the attempted reboots over the years have not proven popular with audiences. It isn't the quality of the acting that is in question but whether we are convinced that we are watching Herman Munster goof about or is it just another Fred Gwynne impersonator putting on that distinctive voice. To his credit, Sam McMurray does fairly well in getting the mannerisms right and although he doesn’t quite have the childlike glee that Gwynne – and Edward Herrmann in HERE COMES THE MUNSTERS, if truth be told – brought to the part he does seem to be enjoying himself and trying his best not to overdo the Fred Gwynne impressions too much. Bug Hall is fine as Eddie Munster and Elaine Hendrix is bright and cheery as Herman’s niece Marilyn but sadly Lily isn’t really given much to do and Ann Magnuson – despite getting the arm movements right – doesn’t really bring much to make her arc as much fun as it could have been. However, it is Sandy Baron as Grandpa who comes off the worst, despite on paper being a good choice to replace Al Lewis. His make-up and overall look doesn’t really capture the comedy vampire image and he looks a lot like a melted grey candle, and although Baron tries to deliver his lines in a similar way to Al Lewis he never gets it quite right, so you end up with a Grandpa who is basically Sandy Baron in bad make-up delivering lines like Sandy Baron does in everything he’s in.

 

As with HERE COME THE MUNSTERS, being in colour does the film very few favours and it looks more cartoonish than Gothic, and yes, this is a kid’s film but the black-and-white of the original TV series gave the comedy a much more ghoulish edge that appealed to a broader audience. Anyone with a fondness for the TV series would be well advised to lower their expectations with this one as the gags aren’t particularly funny and the film itself doesn’t have much else to offer apart from possibly distracting the kids for a bit, although it is doubtful whether they will stay distracted for the full 90 minutes.

 

Chris Ward

 

 

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FrightFest is the registered trade mark of London FrightFest Limited.
 © 2000 - 2018