In the 3 years that I’ve run Horror And Sons, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and befriend a number of talented, thoughtful, and considerate people who just happen to share the same passion that I do for the horror genre. Mat Herndon just happens to be one of the first, and thankfully, one of my favorites. There aren’t many as reliable, as trustworthy, or as caring and generous. I have been blessed in earning his friendship.
So, once again, I am honored to have him joining us for another year of Halloween Horrors. And, once again, he didn’t disappoint. What I love about Mat’s yearly Halloween Horrors pieces is that they are always little reflections of his own life, as well as his place in it. They are honest, they are passionate, and they are personal. They are exactly what this series is all about.
When first given the task of choosing a horror character to write 600 words on, my mind started racing. The first thought was choose the creepiest, most disturbing character I could think of. Someone who really defines “horror.” Then, I took a step back and thought about maybe someone who defined horror without being brutal. Someone who meant a lot to me in my childhood and for whom I still have a fondness for. When I narrowed that down, only one individual made any sense…Herman Munster!
For anyone who hasn’t seen The Munsters, Herman is the head of the household, played to perfection by the late Fred Gwynne. He is made in the image of Frankenstein’s monster and is extremely family oriented. In my honest opinion, Herman is the perfect father figure and husband. He has taught his son (and viewers including myself) countless life lessons that speak to his kind and loving nature. Lessons such as a person should not be judged by their appearance, but by their character….. which I have found more and more meaningful over the years.
One of the show’s running gags is the reaction of people who see Herman for the first time. They usually get a first glance and have the cartoon effect of hair standing on edge right before they run off in a panic. As a child, I thought that was hilarious. However, as I grew older, I noticed how often we do that as a society. We seem to judge others on first glance as opposed to finding out who they are before making a judgement. The greatest part of the show for me was the fact that yes, Herman is a scary looking individual on the surface, and yes, people judge his appearance, but he continues to be himself. He continues to be a loving, caring, goofy, hard-working man. Especially as someone who sees himself as an outsider, this really spoke to me and continues to do so.
Herman is also a great example of how a man should love and respect his wife. One doesn’t have to watch many episodes of the show to see Herman has a deep love for his wife, Lily. Their playful interactions with each other as they give each other pet names never fails to put a smile on my face. Whether it was going out or staying in and having a meal together, the looks of love that Herman consistently gives Lily prove he is not just a lumbering beast. He is a passionate, loving, caring man. That duality is what made the show and Herman much more than he could have been if the writers had chosen to create one-dimensional characters.
I am forever thankful to Herman Munster for giving me so many lessons to live by. When I’m walking around in a particularly violent horror themed t-shirt and get a negative look from a stranger, I just laugh it off because I choose not to give that narrow-minded world view any power. Herman teaches us that we are not defined by one aspect of our looks or personality. It is more than okay to support the horror culture. Watching mad men swing axes and decapitate unsuspecting teenagers doesn’t mean we believe in doing that in real life. I’d also like to think that a majority of people who enjoy horror films and the like also enjoy other forms of entertainment. If we were all judged the way Herman Munster was judged by his appearance, the world would be a boring, lonely place. Even if we are judged from time to time, Herman gives us an example of how to react. Simply laugh it off and continue to be yourself.