Holy crap. I knew that this would be a true test of nostalgia vs actual quality, but this..
Howard the Duck is far beyond a wild ride. Set up primarily in mid 1980s Cleveland (Yeah), the film instead starts off on Howard’s home planet in some far distant world (and perhaps universe) where the ducks became the sentient and dominant beings, and have advanced to where they offer Budweiser and their own take on Indiana Jones (Breeders of the Lost Stork).
When a seemingly random tractor beam from our Earth hits Howard’s planet, it’s aimed right for his living room, which sucks him up and out towards Earth via wormhole.
Howard eventually crosses path with Beverly, a singer of a band who’s trying to make it big, but is stuck playing gigs at this skeezy bar in Cleveland.
Soon, the two look for answers as to how Howard got to Earth, and if there’s a way home for the foul-mouthed fowl. They go to her friend, Phil (“Philsie”) Blumburtt to get help. Since Phil’s a bumbling buffoon of a scientist, he congresses with his advanced colleague Dr. Jennings, who actually has an answer for the questions they posit.
Dr. Jennings was testing a laser designed to do… something, and instead brought Howard to Earth. And now, something else has felt the device, and has come to Earth in an effort to destroy it. Which if I can say, is alway a dumb idea. What’s going to happen when you destroy the planet? You going to float aimlessly in space? Idiot aliens.
The Dark Overlord inhabits Dr. Jennings’ body, and the film turns to a young child’s nightmare.
Where/ when did I first see it?
I know the first time I saw this was at my babysitter, Gigi’s place, but I barely remembered it. I do remember watching it later on television, being haunted with the reoccurrence of seeing Dr. Jennings, and the nightmares all came rushing back to my young mind.
How does it hold up?
So, it wasn’t good then, and it really isn’t good now. It’s great to watch with a few beers and some friends though (or for the infamous episode of How Did This Get Made?).
The special effects are rough, but the Howard Suit was remarkable tech for the time. It was the first wireless puppet, while also being a suit for the actors. The “brain” of the electronics were housed in the tail.
What did I like about it and why?
I would have loved to see a film where took more time on his home planet because I love when films offer an alternative yet extremely similar world with similar events and products. It’s a small thing to enjoy in films, but man, it does wonders for me.
And as much as Dr. Jennings freaked me out, it was the special effects then, and his make-up that truly kept him alive in my child psyche, terrifying me for years to come. I look back on his performance fondly now, for it sure served its purpose.
I’d be remiss if I also didn’t mention our unspoken fascination with Howard the Duck resulting in the three The Guttersnipes’ videos we shot that featured the film in some way: The Worst Film Ever Made, Picking America!, and The Johnson Clause.
The marketing was pretty odd considering that it was supposed to be a kids’ film according to Den of Geek. It did have some “interesting” posters though:
- Guardians of the Galaxy did more for the character than this film.
- Everyone’s careers remarkably survived this excursion.
- George Lucas cannot be trusted.
Where can you see it?