Over the last few years, we have seen American TV shows of the past become a goldmine for filmmakers. They have repackaged, Quantum Leap and Rob Zombie is reviving the 1960s classic, The Munsters, into a movie starting next week on Netflix. With the lack of creativity in Hollywood combined with nostalgia, we are probably going to see more of these shows being either rebooted or enhanced for moviegoers, more than willing to empty their wallets to see how classic characters get their 21st-century makeovers. Tonight on Ground Zero, Clyde Lewis talks with actor and musician, Butch Patrick, and, producer and composer, Chuck Cirino about AMERICAN GOTH – TEAM EDDIE.
Well today, it appears that there are reminders that we never learn from our mistakes in history.
Vladimir Putin today issued a chilling new threat to use nuclear weapons against the West, telling world leaders to back off Ukraine while warning: ‘I’m not bluffing’.
He also ordered the mobilization of 300,000 military reserves – a first in Russia since the Second World War – and gave the go-ahead for referendums to be held in occupied areas of Ukraine that would make them a part of Russia, in the Kremlin’s eyes at least.
He vowed to use ‘all means’ to defend the regions, saying: ‘If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all available means to protect Russia and our people – this is not a bluff… I shall stress – by all means available to us. Those trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the tables can turn on them.
We knew that he was going to give a Wartime speech but we know he has chosen to double down and hold the free world to ransom – putting Russia and its huge nuclear arsenal on a direct collision course with Ukraine and its allies, who have already vowed not to accept the results of referendums or to stop liberating occupied territory.
This feels so much like the Cuban Missile Crisis all over again –am reminds me of the plot of the John Goodman Film Matinee. The film is a send-up of horror film director William Castle –who chooses to show a gimmicky horror film called MANT to take people’s minds off the possibility of nuclear annihilation.
Taking a cue from that cult film – I think I want to do the same except I am doing it on the radio –and maybe this is that long-awaited show that many listeners have asked me to do and that is reflected on some of the most interesting and campy horror films that I loved when I was a kid.
There are times when I need to take a breath and escape form the doom and gloom of the mainstream. If you show up in this playground long enough, you begin to realize that it all has the charm of a graveyard. You end up getting tombstones for eyes. I am currently thinking about Halloween already as the candy is being wheeled out and the closed Down Dollar Tree stores become Spirit Halloween retail stores.
I was thinking that while everyone is willing to drum up Christmas excitement in November why not drum up some Halloween spirit is September?
If doomsday is on the way – maybe, we can avert some of the anxiety by reminiscing about some of the best scary movies that we recommend. I am not talking about recent films – I am talking about forgotten films like “Suspiria” or “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.”
All the geeks know the real scary stuff and the fun campy stuff that has inspired some of the modern filmmakers today.
Over the weekend, I perused the free movie area of my cable cue and I noticed that the library was overwhelmed with some really cool B movies and 1950s Science fiction films.
One of the films featured was “It came from Outer space.” That was one of the first B- Science fiction films I was exposed to when i was a kid. i would do my paper route on a Saturday and rush home to watch a local show called Science Fiction Double Feature.
One of the films that I remember quite well was “It Came from Outer Space. ” The Triffids,” “Them” and the list could go on. I guess my viewing cue was stocked with goofy Halloween-type movies and I was thrilled to see them — thinking that maybe an afternoon in Pajamas eating a huge bowl of Captain crunch with bananas was in order.
Much of what you hear in Ground Zero I owe to the old genre of B- horror and science fiction films. Anything from Godzilla to Ed Wood — the heart of the show has always been about the old horror genre and all of the story telling that goes with it.
As many of you well know, I have a secret love for old B-horror and science fiction films. My passion for this genre of film gave me the enthusiasm to publish my own Sci-Fi and horror fanzine that unexpectedly received the blessing of Forrest J. Ackerman who at the time was the founder and publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland.
As many people in my generation know, we had an escape from the Cold war paranoia and that is we were treated to a renaissance of Horror films and science fiction, or monster TV shows that certainly made us awestruck if all of the imagination and in some ways charm and corny aspects of these shows.
For some time now i have had listeners waiting, patiently for the time when I step into memory lane and share some of the stories, films and TV shows that certainly delighted me when I was a kid – and I am sure they delighted you.
These TV shows and films are certainly part of my life and in some ways, they saved my life from the depression that I had after my first divorce. I was going to therapy at the time and I explained why I felt so sad, so abandoned, and unloved.
She wanted me to reflect in what made me happy when I was a child. I explained that one of the things that stuck out in my mind id that for some reason my family would all get together to have a big meal and watch The Wizard of Oz when it aired yearly on CBS.
It was as if we got an extra thanksgiving out of the deal but there was always an extra Easter gathering when Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments aired on TV. We were too young to understand why it aired at the same time as Easter, then as I grew up I understood that it aired because of Passover.
The therapist told me, that I felt security and comfort in old movies and then I told her that I especially loved late-night Horror Theater shows. i one time wanted to be a horror host on TV.
Now there aren’t many left. There of course is Svengoolie and Mr. Lobo but many of them have disappeared. I was in Florida on business, and I remember Dr. Paul Bearer and Zachlerly, and many times I have had the privilege of interviewing the Mistress of the Dark herself — Elvira,
I just saw that she has celebrated her 71st birthday. Last time I saw her was at a Wizard World Comic Con in Portland, OR and she looked great — she never seems to age.
Over the last few years, we have seen American TV shows of the past become a goldmine for moviemakers.
I was talking with my producer Ron about how they have repackaged the TV Show Quantum Leap — and of course you can’t overlook the controversy surrounding Rob Zombie reviving the Classic TV show The Munsters with a movie hat will air on Netflix next week.
With the lack of creativity in Hollywood, combined with nostalgia being a factor– we are probably going to see more of these shows being either rebooted or enhanced for moviegoers more than willing to empty their Wallets to see how classic characters get their 21st-century makeovers.
This of course has always been a bittersweet thing — part of me wants these old shows to be left alone while another part of me wants to see how they turn out.
I also have wondered why certain old TV shows become remade and why some don’t. Like for example. a new Gilligan’s Island would be interesting — or how about a reboot of Hogan’s Heroes?
I always thought that maybe Brian Dennehy would make a Great skipper, or maybe John Goodman as the skipper. How about Michael Cerra as Gilligan? I think that would be cool.
I always thought that Bruce Campbell would make a great Colonel Hogan in Hogan’s heroes and believe it or not I would cast Crispin Glover as Colonel Klink,
Just a thought — but I am sure there are other movies and TV shows that could use a reboot.
I am very excited for the Munsters that is due to hit Netflix next week and even though it appears to be a prequel and the internet does not seem to be impressed with the trailer I am excited to see it. I am lowering my expectations though because every time a new Munsters is attempted it always does not measure up to the original cast of Fred Gwynne, Yvonne DeCarlo, Al Lewis. Pat Priest and of course Butch Patrick.
Director Rob Zombie has been a lifelong fan of The Munsters, this movie might be the project he’s been more passionate about than any other. I certainly would be and I am sure there is a lot of pressure on him to deliver — after all he has been a horror director and now is being challenged by doing a family-friendly look at the early days of Herman Lilly and Grandpa.
Zombie was so obsessed with getting it right that be build a whole neighborhood that looks mile Mockingbird Heights and he also built a replica of the house that sits on 1313 Mockingbird lane.
Because he’s such a fan of the franchise, Zombie took to Instagram to honor the other actors to have played the three main characters in the reboot: Herman, Lily, and The Count, aka Grampa. In the new movie, the three are respectively played by Jeff Daniel Phillips, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Dan Roebuck.
There have been other attempts to reboot and revive the Munsters over time.
There was the revival series, The Munsters Today from 1988, the 1995 TV movie, Here Come the Munsters, the 1996 holiday film, The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas, and the 2012 Halloween special, Mockingbird Lane.
I think it is fitting that Rob Zombie is remaking the Munsters – I always felt that Zombie is like a Horror Host turned Rock Star turned movie director.
I say he is living the dream.
Being a horror historian, I can understand why the Munsters are always resurrected and remade. It is like a sort of corny rebellion against perfect family TV shows that avoid the topic of dysfunction.
Let’s face it – family orientedd TV shows like This is Us are heavy handed and makde fir the same of triggering emotional responses.
In the 1950s and 1960s we had shows like, Leave it to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best,” “Life with Blondie,” and “The Andy Griffith Show”– they showed the wholesome family ideal,
However, there were shows that metaphorically depicted families with secrets, secrets that have to be kept in order to blend in. That is what was so funny about the Munsters they saw themselves as normal when the world around them saw that they weren’t and they remained perplexed over how they were treated.
“Bewitched” took the typical formula of a married couple and incorporated the magic of witchcraft, as did the popular “I Dream of Jeannie.” When it came time to revamp the family sitcom, creatives started tackling different worlds than that of the average suburban existence, like the fish-out-of-water series “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
“The Addams Family” and “The Munsters” highlighted families that reveled in the macabre, a juxtaposition to the popular squeaky-clean shows at the time.
In fact the Addams Family is also going to be rebooted with a New Tim Burton project about Wednesday Adams, It also looks fun — and has also been met with controversy over casting. People are all too eager to make comparisons with the Original — and after three Adams family movies, you’d think we would be used to it by now,
Believe it or not, the same people who brought Leave it to Beaver Created the Munsters.
The Munsters was a satirical look at the family sitcom, centered on a loving, kind family who just so happen to be monsters.
The Munsters was not just a satire of family sitcoms, but also the tropes of classic monster movies and the hypocritical standards encouraged by “wholesome family value” television.
I have been binging the Munsters on Peacock and even though the canned laughter is annoying — the charm and the joy still come through.
The series was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Television Series but was unfortunately canceled after two seasons when its time slot on CBS ended up in direct competition with ABC’s “Batman” with Adam West. “The Munsters” just couldn’t compete against the celebrity cameo-filled caped crusader, but fortunately, “The Munsters” found new life in syndication.
Decades after the show’s cancellation, “The Munsters” was revived in the 1990s after it aired on Nick at Nite and again in the 2000s when TV Land revived it.
So it is a gamble to remake the Munsters again because we are going to have to find that cult following that will support the revival and in the cynical world we live in now — it is hard to find people who just want to escape the world watching monsters quite dad jokes ad infinitum.
The show’s humor thrived in juxtaposition, a witty comedy of errors frequently bordering on farce. It was used as a vehicle to tackle taboo topics of the day like assimilation, integration, and civil rights, with the monstrous Munsters used as a stand-in for all marginalized members of society. But a big part of what made “The Munsters” so special was how its use of monsters allowed a variety of people to feel seen in a family sitcom for the first time.
Monsters have been used as metaphors for “the other” since the dawn of horror cinema, and “The Munsters” made it so families that didn’t resemble the Cleavers “Leave it to Beaver” could feel seen.
The Munsters proved that you could look a little odd or unconventional to the general public, but still be a loving, supportive, accepting, and compassionate family. They allowed audiences of all ages to escape into a world where they could be as weird as they wanted, and would always have someone to love them exactly as they are.
I worry now that we have all become to cynical to just escape and enjoy something like the Munsters today.
It is a risk I know and certainly reminds me of a tribute film that was released in 1993 about the horror great William Castle.
The Film Matinee Starring John Goodman was set in 1962.
Matinee is focused on the Cold War experience in Key West, Florida.
John F. Kennedy interrupts television sets across the nation to warn of the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, and filmmaker Lawrence Woolsey decides to capitalize on the atmosphere of fear that is taking hold in Florida after the announcement.
Woolsey’s latest film, Mant!, happens to be about killer ant-human hybrids who attack only after atom bombings turn them into frightful creatures. Where better to open a film like this than Key West, Florida, with its military base and close proximity to an apparent atomic threat?
In addition to bringing his film to Florida, Woolsey decides to drum up even more publicity for his film by bringing along a couple of pals who will pretend to protest his film.
Lawrence Woolsey could not be a more perfect spoof of the real-life director William Castle who used all sorts of cheesy gimmicks to get people into the theaters.
In the case of Woolsey’s Mant!, the director announces that the film will be accompanied by “Atomovision.” Little buzzers are attached to the seats in the local theater, just as they were for Castle’s The Tingler. Attendees must sign a contract with a “nurse” in case they die during the screening. Woolsey even shows up at the theater and hands out free passes to his latest film to counteract the fake protest he created!
These were fun times — in fact, during a Ground Zero Halloween film festival held at the Tower theater, we featured the Tingler and even received the original instructions on how to wire the seats with a car battery to give audience members an electric shock during the show.
We had it all rigged up –and then the Radio stations’ lawyers stepped in and say that we would be held liable if anyone claimed that they were harmed during the film.
So I had to think fast. We ended up hiring an actor to sit in the theater and I recorded the sound of an arcing wire –every time the Tingler would show up I would play the sound of the spitting wires — and the actor would jump off his chair. He would then move to another chair and we would do it again.. he would move to another chair and zap. Eventually, we cleared the theater.
The only one left was the actor — sitting alone. Nobody asked for their money back, they just left worried that they would be next.
When it comes to horror movies, it’s very hard to impress me. I’m not saying that I’m a horror movie snob, but at a certain point it is as if you have seen it all — and you tend to want to go back to the classics.
I just watched The Abominable Dr. Phibes with Vincent Price and I marveled at how clever the film was –and how funny some parts were. I laughed in some parts but tried to imagine the horror of being attacked by bats, or being drained of my blood, or even having locusts eat my flesh as Dr. Phibes devised various ways of murdering the doctors he believe killed his wife– I also believe that his film actually inspired those like a Nightmare on Elm Street and other immortal killers on the screen. I am also a big fan of Hammer films, where Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were part of the endearing horror genre long before they appeared in Star wars films.
Those movies defined what horror is to me.
I just saw them as good movies with a dark aesthetic that was different from what was popular with my generation. While everyone else watched Disney movies, I was more interested in watching Psycho – I even watched Army of Darkness in a movie theater, and when it was done, I actually walked out and paid to see it again.
This is why I eagerly await the Wednesday Addams TV series and the Munster’s – it will certainly revive my interest in some of these endearing old films and inspire me to create some really fun and scary shows for Halloween.
SHOW GUESTS: BUTCH PATRICK AND CHUCK CIRINO
Butch Patrick (born Patrick Alan Lilley) is an American actor and musician. Beginning his professional acting career at the age of seven, Patrick is perhaps best known for his role as child werewolf Eddie Munster on the CBS comedy television series The Munsters from 1964 to 1966 and in the 1966 feature film Munster, Go Home!, and as Mark on the ABC Saturday morning series Lidsville from 1971 to 1973.
He was spotted by a talent agent at the age of seven, which led to a series of appearances in television commercials and guest appearances on TV shows. In 1961 he made his feature-film debut in the 20th Century Fox comedy–fantasy The Two Little Bears, in which he co-starred with Eddie Albert and Jane Wyatt.
In 1975, Patrick left acting to work for his father and began to learn to play the bass guitar. In 1983, he recorded the song, “Whatever Happened To Eddie?” (b/w “Little Monsters”), with several instrumentalists and backup singers under the group name “Eddie and the Monsters.
Chuck Cirino grew up in South Florida making short 8mm films as a teen. His voracious quest to shoot, edit and show others his work landed him his first job as a station manager creating local public access TV content in Pennsylvania. Soon the adventure and mystique of Hollywood called him West where he began editing and directing high-end network television commercials at Videography Studios in Los Angeles.
Chuck created and executive produced Weird TV, a nationally syndicated TV series that laid new ground by pioneering reality television. His edgy and underground TV show broke all the rules of TV style, editing, content and shocking imagery when the ‘new’ technology of small video handicams came into play.
Weird TV went on to become MSN’s first and only online TV series. Before YouTube and streaming video, Chuck’s originally produced comedy and reality shorts were seen worldwide on the web. This lead Chuck to helping HBO launch their online comedy presence, Runaway Box and Break.com’s Break Originals, where Chuck produced, edited, directed and musically enhanced much of that content.