Legendary flop Howard The Duck has finally arrived on Blu Ray here in the UK. But does the film live up to it’s reputation as a genuine cinematic stinker? Read on to find out, Fiends…
Our titlular hero, Howard, is an anthropomorphic duck, who lives his life on Duckworld. After an experiment on Earth goes somewhat wrong, he is dragged though a cross galactic wormhole from Duckworld, to Earth. He lands in the life of aspiring musician Beverly Switzer, and her nerdy friend, Philsie (a biologist).
Sadly for Howard, an evil alien being was also dragged to earth, and has inhabited the body of one of Philsies colleagues, Dr Jennings. Can Howard save Beverly, defeat the aliens, and become a worldwide hit?
Howard The Duck was, at the time, one of the most complex films ever undertaken. A huge amount of money was spent by Lucasfilm on the technology required to bring the character to life in the pre-CGI era. And as a technical showcase, the film succeeds. Sure, the Howard masks look a little stiff, but they were state of the art. And Howard just about succeeds as a believable character amongst the human cast.
As a piece of entertainment, however, Howard The Duck is somewhat less successful. The film suffers from an uneven tone, fluctuating from family friendly comedy to adults only “naughtiness”, sometimes within the same scene. Many people at the time (and still to this day) were disturbed by the sexual nature of the relationship between Howard (a 4 ft tall Duck) and Beverly (a tallish, sexy human). And I can see why. Inter-species sex is one of the few universal human taboos.
Having said that, it is a generally fun film, if you are prepared to forgive it’s flaws and just immerse yourself in the action. The set pieces are hugely enjoyable, and well staged. Howard gets some wonderful wisecracks, and the songs by Thomas Dolby are more than passable. Sure, the story is pretty generic (alien invasion must be foiled by unlikely hero), but truthfully, anything more complex would have been uncalled for.
Of course, Howard The Duck was a monumental failure at the time, and almost destroyed Lucasfilm. Although it did lead to Lucas selling off his animation studio, which went on to become Pixar, so every cloud…
101 Film have presented Howard The Duck in a lavish box set here. Not only do you get the film in a crisp HD remaster on Blu ray, you also get a copy on DVD for your troubles. And yes, the transfer looks outstanding. Even the night scenes. In terms of extras you get 2 commentary tracks, a retrospective history of the character, some vintage EPK documentaries, and a trailer. A lavish booklet featuring 2 new essays on the film is also included. This all comes in a nice, matt finish slipcase.
Overall, this is a brilliant package. PLenty of material is included, the film looks better than it ever has done, and that’s all I can really say.
4/5 Fiends. Impressive, but maybe not to everyone’s taste.