The Addams Family 2 - The Addams Family Keeps Being Reborn
9/22/2021 • 4 min read
For all the creepy and kooky hallmarks found within the ADDAMS FAMILY’s pop culture imprint, perhaps its closest relationship to actual horror is its unwillingness to stay dead. From 1964 all the way through to today, this loveable crew of weirdos has thrived across three iterations. Each new generation gets to enjoy its own versions of Morticia, Gomez, Pugsly, Wednesday, and Uncle Fester.
With the release of THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2, let’s take a look back at each version of the family that we're so happy refuses to go away.
Airing for a relatively short time from 1964 to 1966, it’s remarkable that the characters are still in our lives at all. "The Addams Family" came out in direct competition with a similar series, "The Munsters," against which it consistently came second in the ratings game.
It’s not hard to see why. "The Munsters," which followed a family of actual monsters through a parody of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER sitcom tropes, was able to capitalize on broader comedy and character designs that were already iconic, such as Boris Karloff’s take on Frankenstein’s Monster. It was easy for audiences to get what "The Munsters" show was going for and fall in love with its characters.
"The Addams Family," on the other hand, was a much stranger prospect. Its characters had to create their own iconography. Their situation was a bit harder to understand. (They are... morbid and strange?) The show’s comedy was far more subtle.
And yet, it persevered. The show's originality stuck, thanks to cool character designs, interesting family relationships, and - above all - an all-timer theme song that kids learned even if they never laid eyes on the series.
This success was not enough to save "The Addams Family" from cancellation, but it did keep the show in the public consciousness long enough for the possibility for a reboot to take root. Nearly 30 years after the original, audiences were reintroduced to the mysteriously spooky family in 1991.
Directed by the funny and idiosyncratic Barry Sonnenfeld, the 1991 ADDAMS FAMILY had more than just television history on its side. The film was extremely funny, as it pushed the original premise to slightly more edgy territory with a modern setting that made the whole enterprise feel fresh and exciting.
On top of that, what a cast! Raul Julia, Anjelica Houston, and Christina Ricci all played their parts — the movies made Ricci a household name, and she was a perfect Wednesday Addams. The cherry on top was Christopher Lloyd’s unhinged take on Uncle Fester.
As good as THE ADDAMS FAMILY was, the sequel, ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES, was even better. It took the idea further away from the original series, threw in even darker humor, and centered itself yet again on Lloyd’s winning Uncle Fester. The film didn’t do as well at the box office but is now seen as the best of the two films by a long shot, thanks in no small part to Joan Cusack’s deliciously evil villain, Debbie.
The Animated Films
Another near-30 years went by, and it was clearly time for another take on The Addams Family. This time, the adaptation would be a computer-animated affair, which makes sense as the Addams Family are practically cartoon characters already.
Bolstered by the success of the HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA films, the gamble that kids would fall for a family of weirdos didn’t seem so crazy in 2019. The first animated ADDAMS FAMILY movie was a success — so much so that the sequel is about to open, almost exactly two years later. The core voice cast, including Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron, is back to play the family, so fans of the first will certainly find more of what they loved two years ago.
What’s next for this wild family of macabre miscreants? Hopefully we don’t have to wait 30 years to find out!
THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2 opens on October 1!
All images courtesy of MGM, Paramount Pictures.