(WARNING: Major spoilers and creepy song lyrics below. Skulk ahead at your own risk.) 

Here’s something you might not know about heavy-metal rocker, horror-movie director, and one-time Pee Wee’s Playhouse gofer Rob Zombie -- he’s also a certified comedy nerd.  Specifically, he’s a self-proclaimed super-fan of 1960s spooky sitcom The Munsters.

While Zombie is best known for directing R-rated, blood-soaked boo-fests like The Devil’s Rejects and Halloween, his WTF dream project has been to film his take on The Munsters, an ambition he says he’s “been chasing for 20 years.”  Longtime Zombie fans probably aren’t surprised. His fandom even shows up in his songs like Dragula, named after Grandpa Munster’s tricked-out drag strip racer

Zombie's The Munsters just landed on Netflix, where it immediately found a spot in the daily Top 10. Reviews haven’t been kind, however. “What a baffling, misguided film,” gripes Josh Spiegel of Slash Film. “A perplexing, failed experiment that quickly overstays its welcome with painfully unfunny jokes and a bland story,” says Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting.  Audiences currently have it at a scary 35% on Rotten Tomatoes.

But perhaps the critics are looking at it wrong. If you view The Munsters as basically a new Rob Zombie album, maybe it holds up better.  After all, the movie’s themes are right in sync with a lot of songs in the Zombie catalog.  Let’s give The Munsters one more look, using Zombie’s music to tell the story. (Last chance -- spoilers ahead).  

Jesus Frankenstein

The monster in Rob Zombie’s “Jesus Frankenstein” is a hodgepodge of parts, appendages that don’t necessarily add up to a cohesive whole. He’s got the fingers of a madman, arms of a hoax, hands of deception, body of a prophet, hands of a snake, mind of a devil … in other words, the finished product isn’t someone we’d consider a good risk for a mortgage loan.

Similarly, Zombie’s Munsters begins with the creation of Herman, a creature also made up of disparate parts that don’t quite fit.  Instead of the “mind of a devil,” mad scientist Dr. Wolfgang and his assistant Floop intend to insert the brain of a genius astrophysicist.  But you know how difficult it is to get quality parts these days.  Floop robs the wrong grave and Herman ends up with the mind of “moron” comedian Shecky Von Rathbone (which should tell you something about the kind of sophisticated comedy you’re getting here).  The resulting monster tells rotten jokes nearly as terrifying as Jesus Frankenstein. 

The Girl Who Loved The Monsters

Universal 1440 Entertainment

You'd think there would be some kind of Tinder for vampires

“I want a man who makes my blood run cold,” declares lovelorn Lily, a 150-year-old vampire who has yet to find her dream mate.  The Count, Lily’s father, attempts to conjure up a suitable love partner in his magical science lab, but all of his creations are dismal failures.  Love finally finds Lily when she catches sight of the monstrous Herman performing on TV. Suddenly, “the girl who loved the monsters Is the girl who wants to fly.”

Zombie’s vision of nightmare love suggests we all are looking for someone who makes our blood pump at a different pace. After all, Zombie asks, aren’t we all monsters? 

Set them free let them be

The monsters live in you and me

Set them free let them be

The monsters live in you and me

But Lily has yet to meet her dream monster. Will her desire be returned?

Mars Needs Women

Just like Mars, Herman needs women too.  He’s searching for that sweet ride baby with a broken face. When Lily shows up at a music club where Herman is performing with his punk band, it’s love at first sight.  

Creepy courtship commences, moving through cemeteries and Devil’s Island Penal Colony before Herman pops the question.  It’s an unequivocal “yes.”

Universal 1440 Entertainment

Lily falls for a man with the complexion of Gumby

House of 1,000 Corpses

All’s well in Transylvania as the newlyweds are set to move into The Count’s castle, a veritable “House of 1,000 Corpses.” 

This is the house

Come on in

This is the house

Built on sin

Cue some convoluted comedy involving Lily’s brother Lester conspiring with an evil gypsy, who also happens to be the Count’s ex-wife. She wants that castle built on sin--she intends to turn it into a casino--but The Count ain’t selling. 

That doesn’t stop Lester. On Lily and Herman’s wedding day, Lester cons Herman into signing over the deed to the castle, leaving the newlyweds and The Count homeless.  Misery abounds.

Yeah, you can't take any more

The devil's laughing in your face  

The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore

When Transylvania gives you lemons, says Zombie, head to Tinsel Town. His titular Gore Whore is obsessed with the monster legends of Hollywood.  

She got a Vincent Price tattooed on her thigh

She got Wolfman tattooed on her fist

She got Dracula tattooed on her neck

Herman Munster hears the same siren call after he loses his father-in-law’s House of 1,000 Corpses.  It’s off to Hollywood to become a star--with the jokey brain of Shecky Von Rathbone, how can he miss?  In California, the trio buys a new house of horrors -- a dilapidated place at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. 

But stardom will have to wait. With no Hollywood jobs in the offing, Herman takes a job carting corpses at the Gateman, Goodbury, and Graves funeral parlor.  Hey, it’s a living. 

The Triumph of King Freak

But Herman, King of the Freaks, won’t give up easily.  In Zombie’s world, the freaks refuse to give in:  

We ain't your execution (get off)

We ain't your head pollution (get off)

We ain't your flock of sheep (get off)

We ain't your minds to read, yeah

And The Munsters are no exception. In an ending that drips with deux ex machina, sleazy brother Lester returns.  Seems he took his cut of the castle takeover and went to Vegas where he won big!  He cuts Herman in on the winnings, and now Herman, Lily, and the Count are inexplicably rich.  That must have been some slot machine. Through no doings of his own, King Freak indeed triumphs.

The weirdly unsatisfying ending does set up the possibility of a sequel in which our creepy family would presumably be joined by the sitcom’s Marilyn and Eddie.  We’ll be poring over Zombie lyrics to try and predict what comes next.  

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