A few weeks ago, one of our contributors talked to us about doing a piece on the 1986 LucasFilm bomb Howard The Duck. ‘Wow, Howard The Duck,’ I thought, ‘I haven’t seen that movie in years.’ and I think it’s been out of print for a long time. So, I looked it up and see that a new Special Edition is available now for pre-order with a release date of March 10, 2009 (yeah, that’s going right on the Wish List).
Next thing I know, it’s on Hulu [synchronicity!]. (Watch it here below.)
Now, I know the film was considered a bomb and an embarrassing blip in the LucasFilm Archives, but I remember enjoying it when it came out back in 1986. But, I was kid back then and at that time I devotedly followed anything with George Lucas‘ name on it, so I wondered how I’d feel about the movie now. So, on Christmas Eve night before I went to bed, I watched Howard The Duck, and you know what? I still liked it. Is it a good movie? Nope. But is it the worst movie? No way.
For those of you unfamiliar with this live-action adaptation of the Marvel Comics series by Steve Gerber, Howard The Duck introduces us to Howard, a duck who lives on “Duckworld,” an alternate version of Earth populated by ducks. One night, much to his surprise, he’s transported through space to Earth, where he meets struggling musician Beverly (Lea Thompson coming off the success of Back To The Future), a pretty human girl. The two become friends and together with the help of Beverly’s wannabe scientist friend Phil (Tim Robbins) work to find out how to get Howard back to Duckworld. In the meantime, people scream in horror when they see a talking duck and the trio must find a way to defeat an alien Dark Overlord who’s come to conquer Earth.
I know, it sounds pretty stupid, and believe me, some of it really is. But, I can’t help it, I dig it. It’s classic 1980s comedic cinema: it’s Back to the Future meets Ghostbusters meets Beverly Hills Cop (and the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance”) meets Purple Rain. If you can get beyond the whole duck thing and the awkward romantic subpot between Howard and Beverly, you might just enjoy this one.
The film was written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, the duo who wrote Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and had a whopping $39 million budget, which was huge at the time, considering that that was much more than its other 1980s special-effects laden counterparts — the aforementioned Back To The Future, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Ghostbusters. Unfortunately, Howard The Duck bombed at the box office when it was released on August 1, 1986, making only just over $5 million.
It looks like the upcoming Special Edition DVD from Universal Home Entertainment will have some bonus features:
– A Look Back at Howard The Duck
– Releasing the Duck
– News Featurette
– The Stunts of Howard The Duck
– The Special Effects of Howard The Duck
– The Music of Howard The Duck
– Teaser Trailers
Note, there’s one regarding the film’s music, which had a score by 1980s synth master Thomas Dolby and the soundtrack also included songs by Beverly’s all-girl rock band Cherry Bomb (which included a pre-21 Jump Street Holly Robinson). The soundtrack has been long out of print and as far as I know never made it passed the LP (that’s a vinyl record for you youngsters) stage. But man would I love to get my hands on this soundtrack!