Howard the Duck (1986) (part 1 of 6)

SUMMARY: From the mind of George Lucas and Marvel Comics, another story of a boy, a girl, and a galaxy. Well, okay. Lucas just executive produced the thing, the “boy” is a midget in a duck suit with a creepy animatronic head, and the “galaxy” is just Cleveland, but there is a girl!

Howard the Duck (1986) (part 1 of 6)

Superheroes are running wild at the box office these days. Batman has had a cinematic resurrection that has been nothing short of miraculous, Iron Man not only did fantastic business but was also a fantastic film in itself, and we’ve even had a bold re-thinking of the entire genre with the release of Watchmen.

It hasn’t always been this way, however. The era of consistently good superhero films is actually pretty new. Starting with X-Men in 2000, we’ve had a pretty good run, an extremely lucky run. Before that, the only real quality superhero/comic book films had been the first two Superman films, and the first two Batman films. As for other big names, Captain America got a few bad made for TV films with Reb Brown and a truly awful 1990 version from Albert Pyun. Hell, Spider-Man only got a crappy TV movie, a recurring spot on The Electric Company, and almost a feature film from Cannon Pictures.

Second tier characters also got a shot. Dolph Lundgren portrayed the Punisher in 1989, but three years prior to this, another character from Marvel Comics made his debut on the big screen… where he was met with crushing failure. Yes folks, it’s time to delve into the world of the twenty mega-ton bomb that is Howard the Duck.

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Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Howard the Duck (1986)

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  • Xeethra

    It was worth watching that celluloid carnival of shame just to savour a line like:

    “Don’t give (Tim Robbins) a hard time for how he expresses his political views; give him a hard time for this performance, which mixes the moral compass of Daffy Duck and the personality of Jerry Lewis into one six-foot-five blemish on the ass of an already bad movie.” 

    That’s perked my day right up. Cheers!

    • edharris1178

       Thanks.  Nice to see this recap is still being read.

  • The Doctor

    I have to admit, Howard the Duck was/is something of a guilty pleasure for me. Yes, it’s a campy B-movie with an absurd plot about a guy in a duck suit — but in the end, I can still respect it because it’s content to just be a campy B-movie with an absurd plot, rather than trying to take itself seriously. (Sort of like The Core, which cheerfully lampshades the utter absurdity of its own plot the moment the scientist admits that he named his miracle alloy “unobtanium”.) What I really hate are campy B-movies with stupid plots that think they’re A-list films and take themselves oh-so-very-seriously.

    Besides… for all its flaws, Howard‘s still better than any of the crap the Syfy Channel puts out these days. :D

    I seem to recall the FX monster looking better on the big screen, so I wonder if the apparent mismatch on home video is a problem with the transfer, or the print they used. (Then again, I also seem to recall they were having a lot of trouble during the mid-80s and beyond with that kind of thing; video transfers introduce a slight color shift which, for some reason, cause matte F/X that look perfectly fine on the silver screen to be glaringly obvious mismatches on video — and vice-versa; if they adjust the color balance to look right when the film is transferred to video, it looks mismatched in the theater. I’m not sure how they eventually resolved that.)