Posted in Holidays, Movies, Televison, Uncategorized

My Fair Munster

1addams1Married in 1865 Herman and Lily Munster had a love that was timeless.

With Universal Studios as producer, The Munsters were able to use classic monster images to which they added running gags, including the central theme that they considered themselves just an average, middle-class family to make a typical sitcom into a brilliantly campy classic.

Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster, Frankenstein’s monster/joke-cracking suburban Dad was electric. Yvonne De Carlo as a blood-sucking Donna Reedesque PTA Mom was inspired. Add cool cars, pets, a young werewolf, older vampire and of course, the family oddball, the ‘plain’ niece, Marilyn, and they had a runaway hit.

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What I could piece together about The Munsters:

1313 Mockingbird Lane has been used in many TV series and movies in various forms including Desperate Housewives.

Spot was alleged to be a fire-breathing T Rex, not a dragon.

The Munsters and The Addams Family ran concurrently, 1964-1966. The Munsters had higher ratings, but was knocked out by Batman, in colour. Kapow!

Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were in Car 54, Where Are You? together before The Munsters. Gwynne says “Car 54, Where Are You?” in the Munster Go Home! film.

Herman worked at Gateman, Goodbury & Grave Funeral Parlor. The spooky John Carradine played Mr. Gateman.

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Fred Gwynne continued acting, including Jud Crandall in Stephen King’s Pet Semetary (I guess you could say Gage was his Achilles’ Heel) and who could forget his conversation with Joe Pecsi about the ‘yutes’ in My Cousin Vinny.

Pat Priest replaced Beverley Owen as Marilyn Munster after episode 13; the two were so similar most people didn’t even notice.

Butch Patrick played himself, dressed as Eddie Munster in The Simpsons in 1999.

Fred Gwynne’s costume weighed about 50lbs and filming in black & white they had to use violet face paint to catch the light.

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The Munsters did have a certain built-in charm.

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Young Frankenstein

franken7I’m a laugh addict. Movies, TV, books, people (not usually at them, more like, if they make me laugh), to be honest, I’m even satisfied with smiling. I have the laugh lines to prove it. Which brings me to Mel Brooks, bad man having contributed to these aforementioned lines.

One of the worst offenders is still Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder (whom I wished to marry when this movie came out, now I’d go for friendship).
You’d think after all these years I’d get tired of it yet I don’t.

It’s impossible to explain how hilarious this doting spoof on Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein is, but I’m chuckling even as I type.

As time marches on, 40 years later, watching this has become bittersweet with the passing of so much of its brilliant cast.

Props created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein were used as most of the lab equipment in this film.

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The ‘Walk This Way’ gag in the movie was the inspiration for Aerosmith’s hit, Walk This Way.

Cloris Leachman improvised a scene in which Frau Blücher (add horse whinnying here) offers “varm milk” and Ovaltine to Dr. Frankenstein/Fronkensteen.franken8

Gene Wilder came up with the idea for YF and pitched it Brooks while filming Blazing Saddles.

Wilder and Brooks agreed the latter couldn’t actually be in the movie because Brooks’ charisma always managed to break the fourth wall whether or not he played himself. But he did provide all the sound effects. It’s good to be the movie King

Wilder fought Brooks to keep the “Puttin’ On The Ritz” (written by Irving Berlin, made famous by Fred Astaire) bit in; thank goodness he won.franken2

Young Frankenstein was not only filmed in black and white for effect, Brooks used unusual techniques like iris outs, wipes, fades to black, and old-fashioned opening credits.

As a gag, Marty Feldman furtively moved his character’s hump from shoulder to shoulder to see if anyone would notice so they added it to the film with lines like, “Didn’t you used to have that on the other side?”, and “What hump?”.

Gene Hackman, who played tennis with Wilder asked to be put in the film. So, not just blind luck…franken6

Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and Peter Boyle also starred in the mind-numbingly funny Yellowbeard with the astonishing Graham Chapman.franken4

Gene Wilder always had trouble not laughing during scenes. I understand.

Now – Put…the candle…back!

Posted in Televison, Uncategorized

THE HILARIOUS HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN

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“Another lovely day begins, for ghosts and ghouls with greenish skin. So close your eyes and you will find that you’ve arrived in Frightenstein. Perhaps the Count will find a way to make his monster work to-day. For if he solves this monster-mania, he can return to Transylvania! So welcome where the sun won’t shine, to the castle of Count Frightenstein!” (This dissolved into maniacal laughter.) ~Vincent Price

I loved this show when I was young. It was on Saturday mornings before they were more commercials than shows.

Let me warn you, the only frightening part about this show was it’s complete cheesiness.

Vincent Price (I’m guessing they spent most of their budget on him) did the opening, closing and some bits crushed in between.

All 130 episodes were taped in a few months in 1971.

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It had quirky sketches like The Librarian where a scary old guy (Billy Van, really, most of the characters were him) in a dusty library read horrifying stories except they were more like ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and ‘Henny Penny’ and then he’s say, wasn’t that terrifying? Hmmm, maybe you had to see it.

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They also had the Dr. Pet Vet, Igor, The Grammar Slammer, The Professor – U.S. physicist Professor Julius Sumner Miller (Mickey Mouse Club’s Professor Wonderful), Gronk,hhof6

Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet, The Mosquito, Count Frightenstein exiled to Castle Frightenstein in Frankenstone, Canada for failing to revive Brucie J. Monster, a Frankenstein-like monster.

Soooo campy, but it was awesome!hhof7

I watched it years later to see if I only enjoyed it because we had very limited TV. No, still peculiar, clever, lots of slapstick, and so bad it was good.

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“The castle lights are growing dim. There’s no one left but me–and him. When next we meet in Frankenstone…don’t come alone.”~Vincent Price