The Munsters’ Theme by Jack Marshall
Speaking of iconic, it’s high time we talked about the most iconic family in all of horror-dom, The Munsters.
Though only lasting 2 seasons, Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and Marylin Munster have lingered on, long past their short stint on the airwaves to become some of horrors most beloved characters.
With such talented actors as Yvonne DeCarlo, Al Lewis and Fred Gwynne hamming it up in such great costumes and make-up, it’s not hard to understand why the show has remained so wonderful to watch and still manages to capture new generations of viewers.
So loved are The Munsters, they’ve been revisited and recast more times than just about anything in the genre, with 5 separate actors playing Herman, Grandpa and Lily, and 7 stepping into the role of Eddie. Marilyn still has the most though, at 9, including 2 actresses (Beverly Owen and Pat Priest) during the show’s initial run. That’s pretty crazy.
However for fans, these revisits have run the gamut from quaint and acceptable (1981’s The Munster’s Revenge) to somewhat watchable (1995’s Here Come The Munsters) to the flat-out cringe inducing (the ill-advised, ill-conceived and ill-received The Munsters Today.) The latter (being a rebooted, sequel-series that aired from 1988 to 1991) somehow managed to stay on the air an entire season longer than the original show, though only producing roughly the same number of episodes.
While each installment has something of merit (The Munster’s Today does feature a rather good turn from Howard Morton as Grandpa) nothing quite matched or lived up to the series. Even 1966’s Munster, Go Home! (the closest to actually feeling like the show) is hampered by the decisions to film in color, recast Marilyn and lose the laugh track.
All that said, perhaps the most iconic aspect of the show is its oft played, oft covered and oft imitated theme song composed by Jack Marshall. If you’ve ever seen the un-aired (and colorized!) pilot for the show, you know just how instrumental Jack’s theme really was.
Instantly recognizable, it’s one of the great television themes of all-time, and just about every rehash (including Munster, Go Home!) has either failed to include it, or used some seriously bastardized version (The Munsters Today) that feels egregious.
Though they were changed a bit between seasons 1 and 2, I’m not quite sure which I honestly prefer most. I’ve included the season 2 theme on the Shindig because I believe it’s the one most often referred to, covered and imitated. Also, The Los Straitjackets’ version appears later in playlist, and that definitely has a distinctly Season 1 sound.
So, let’s spend some time on the Shindig with America’s First Family of Fright, The Munster.