Saturday, April 25, 2009

HOWARD THE DUCK 1986





Before you think that I have lost it, settle down and let me explain. Recently I joined Columbia House DVD. It's a good way to get a stack of free, top 40 DVDs and you really don't have to buy that many. I bought the Watchmen tie-in Tales Of The Black Freighter. Because of that I got a free movie. You guessed it. I picked Howard The Duck.
Howard has always had a spot in my heart. To date it is the only comic book I ever got a subscription to. Howard combines the heart of a true patriot who rebels against the idiocy of bureaucracy that forgets its place in life. Howard was more of a hero than most guys with a cape.
Then they made this movie.
When it first came out 23 years ago I watched it.
Once.
It wasn't what I wanted it to be. But age does something to us. We soften a little and become more laid back about things that we once had a huge fire about. I think my fire about this movie has pretty much gone out. Now, I can appreciate it for what it is.
Sure, I would have killed for Howard's real origin story. Can you imagine Man-Thing and Korrek The Barbarian and wizards and The Nexus Of All Realities. It would have been awesome.
Instead they gave us this; Seems these scientists shot a laser thingy in the air and it plucked Howard from his world where ducks are the dominant species. Now, Howard The Duck is in a world he didn't make, Cleveland to be exact. And it isn't long before Howard hooks up with Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson) who fronts a band named Cherry Bomb.
A few minor adventures later and Howard thinks he is on his way back home. Until the laser thingy misfires and causes one of the Evil Overlords Of The Universe to inhabit the body of Dr. Jennings (Jefferey Jones). Now Howard has to help save the world!
2 million dollar duck suit. No, I'm not kidding, that's what they paid for the weird looking duck suit. But come on people! This was 1986! Special Effects weren't ready for a talking duck. Let's cover the positives.
Lea Thompson is gorgeous in this film. Slim, barely dressed and that adorable little cleft in her chin. Yum!

Jeffrey Jones when he is possessed by the evil Overlord is hilarious. There is this line out of left field when they are in the diner when Beverly tells him to help Howard and he mutters, 'she took my eggs'. This is comedy gold and it still makes me laugh.
Even the end song is infectious
Here, take a listen and see if it doesn't worm it's way into your brain;

Now for some interesting trivia for you and an amazing fact.
I already mentioned that the suit cost 2 million, but did you know???
Thomas Dolby did the music and arranged all the music for the flick.
Lea Thompson did her own singing in the film as well as played her instrument.
John Landis was originally slated to direct.
But.....
Here is the most interesting thing of all.
If Howard The Duck had not bombed in the magnificent fashion it had, we probably wouldn't have had Pixar studios.
Check it out.
According to reports at the time of the movie's release, George Lucas was heavily in debt (having just built the $50-million Skywalker Ranch complex) and was counting on this film to get him back in the black. When it bombed, he was forced to start selling off assets to stay afloat. His friend Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer, offered to help by buying Lucasfilm's newly-launched CGI animation division for a price well above market value, and Lucas, in desperate straits and thankful for the assistance, agreed. That division eventually become Pixar Animation Studios.
Amazing isn't it?
There you go. A flick from the 80's with cheesy effects, great stunt work, really hot Lea Thompson and really do you need anything else? I thought not.
Now if you'll excuse me I'm gonna go watch it again.
Seeya!

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