1. A Look Back at Howard the Duck
2. Releasing the Duck
3. News Featurette
4. The Stunts of Howard the Duck
5. The Special Effects of Howard the Duck
6. The Music of Howard the Duck
DUCKWORLD: 23 YEARS LATER
Needless to say, Huyck’s old buddy Lucas had an idea for Huyck. There was a beloved comic from the 1970s that sported a duck. A duck from a world where humans didn’t involve first. Would a sentient duck fly as a hero in a new comedy-adventure? Would it wipe Best Defense from the minds of the general populace? Yes and no.
The film centers around young Howard’s reluctant journey to Earth. Landing in the city of Cleveland, Howard meets young rocker Beverly Switzer. Beverly introduces Howard to her pseudo-scientist pal Phil. Phil tries his best to understand Howard, but ends up introducing him to Dr. Walter Jennings. Walter is currently the host to a Dark Overlord of the Universe. Trouble ensues and a hero is born.
IN DEFENSE OF HOWIE
George Lucas takes a lot of scorn for his take on Howard the Duck. Where did the man get this mainstream friendly take on a character that often was surly and willing to attack the pop culture landscape? Honestly, it would be fair to say that Lucas didn’t give too much of a flying damn about the original Steve Gerber works. They were heady material even for Marvel Comics. He would fly off on tangents and become more concerned with social issues than super villains.
Then, KISS would show up and Howard would have an off-issue where he fought Dr. Bong. So, I’m not going to pretend that the comic was some profound experience that George Lucas raped. It’s just that Lucas doesn’t seem to be interested in doing something new with the material. But, how much of that falls on Lucas and how much falls on Huyck & Katz? Let’s take a look what doesn’t work.
The duck’s on Earth, as a result of being pulled here by an experiment gone awry. The device also brings down a Dark Overlord of the Universe. This creature inhabits Jeffrey Jones and its up to our heroes to set things straight. Up to there, if you can stomach the girl band and Tim Robbins’ antics…you’re gold. After that point, you fall into third act breakdown.
There’s antics on a runaway golf cart. There’s antics on a runaway gyroplane. There’s antics with Quack-Fu. Everything’s a mini-set piece to get us to the next one-liner for Chip Zien to spit out of Howard’s latex mouth. But, you get to see the insane design for the stop-motion Dark Overlord of the Universe.
THE BITCH GODDESS THAT IS NOSTALGIA
Eric Cordo summed up the response that most will have to this title on the open marketplace. I saw it only once when I was ten or eleven, and I think that’s the best way to remember it. When you’re a young kid, you miss the sexuality. You miss the bawdy jokes that attempt to make a PG movie entertaining for adults. Hell, you even miss the directly implied beastiality.
Also, what the fuck is up with eight midgets playing Howard the Duck? I know that the suit must get hot, but what the fuck happened to work ethic? I remember seeing a piece about the making of Return to Oz and you had the same setup with the little guys that played Tick-Tock. The difference being that the Tick-Tock midgets had to performer upside-down in that outfit. Nobody was upside-down in the Howard costume. They just had to walk around a bathhouse set and keep Jeffrey Jones from molesting them.
Twenty-three years later, I can’t honestly call Howard the Duck a bad film. It’s an awkward film that can’t decide on what audience it is addressing. When you call something terrible, you automatically state that there was a way to make the aforementioned film better. How do you improved upon an alien duck finding himself on Earth? Do you resurrect old Gerber storylines? Do you turn it into an adult satire on 80s excess?
When do we decide that material is better suitable for a young/older audience? We can’t say just because Howard originated as a comic book, that he’s better suited for a younger crowd. But, an older audience doesn’t give a damn about a hero duck trying to make sense of the current social trends. These are questions that should’ve came up during Pre-Production. Having read the unabridged Indiana Jones 1978 sessions from earlier this week, I have to wonder what happened to that Lucas in 8 years.
But, take a look at Lea Thompson. I have a little respect for the far-more lenient MPAA of the 1980s. Letting Thompson slink and move her way over a midget duck is amazing. Especially, when you consider how uptight the same organization can be over the amount of times someone can say shit in a motion picture. If I have to say something for Howard the Duck, it would be a solemn thank you. I thank this awkward film reintroducing me to the hidden carnal power of mid-80s Lea Thompson.
You didn’t get see enough of it in All the Right Moves or Red Dawn. Plus, it catches her right before she got ruined in Casual Sex. Thompson aged rather poorly, much like this film. Yet, there’s something similar to be said for beauty in correlation to this film. A product of its times, met with the indifference of a higher-brow world that would never give it a chance.
I’m not going to waste your time asking you to give the film a second chance. People around my age range will automatically remember the film they saw back in 1986. Sometimes, you just can’t shake those bizarre cultural moments from your frontal lobe. What I ask is for you to understand what Howard the Duck was upon release. A gross misinterpretation of what an audience expected vs. what was on the page. You could almost see similarities to the present day.
Click on the cover art below to purchase Howard the Duck: Special Edition at Amazon.