Friday, February 27, 2009

Bad DVD Alert: Howard the Duck

Ever since the entertainment industry made the big switch from VHS to DVD, film fanatics and movie geeks (and yes, there is a difference) have been forced to play a tortuously drawn out game of wait-and-see. Because of the vast libraries of past films just waitig to be converted to DVD, studios have been either unable or unwilling to simply flood the market with every film ever made in one fell swoop.

While this is completely understandable, the end result is that a lot of us have been left waiting years (soon to be decades) for our favorite childhood films to be get their own Special Anniversary Edition DVD release. This is even more true for Bad Movie Lovers, as their minority spending dollar isn't quite motivation enough for studios to foot the bill for remastering and printing yet another copy of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. Of course, they did release it on DVD, which just makes you wonder what their criteria for DVD worthy movies actually is.

This can be truly frustrating. I personally have been waiting for a DVD release of the incomparable Robby Benson's cold-war-suspense-thriller-romantic-comedy Die Laughing, and I still can't conceive as to what the hold up could be on the re-release of the classic Michael Keaton/Rae Dong Chong action-comedy The Squeeze. Yet a barely-released film based on a trading card series parodying an almost forgotten fad doll gets the red carpet treatment.

There is one group of fans that can stop waiting. This March, Howard the Duck is finally getting the DVD treatment. Starring a fresh out of Space Camp Lea Thompson, Howard was a highly anticipated summer release that opened on August 1, 1986. It quickly proved that not everything George Lucas touches turns to gold, and went on to to rake in a decidedly un-gold-ly $16 Million before giving up the ghost.

Few people, it seems, were ready for a sci-fi adventure comedy featuring a talking duck. Neither, so it seems, were they ready for a talking duck who could play the guitar, or a Lea Thompson that could sing. Even fewer were ready for a talking duck making sexual advances towards a singing Lea Thompson. Nobody was ready for Tim Robbins as a Jerry Lewis wannabe geek turned hero. Jeffrey Jones was the only one who didn't seem out of place, which says more about his acting career than it does the movie. (For the record, we are huge fans of Jeffrey Jones)

Howard the Duck bombed. Big time. Frank Price, head of Universal Pictures at the time, ended up resigning his position after the debacle. George Lucas, who had been counting on his duck movie to pull him out of financial ruins, was dragged down even deeper by the failure, and ended up selling Steve Jobs the CGI animation division that would later become Pixar. Lucas would then solve all of his money problems by reselling the same three Star Wars films sixteen times each.

Just as Howard's sudden appearance in a world he never made held dire consequences for the human race, Howard's movie was so mind-numbingly bad that it actually changed the course of history. Now, twenty three years later, Howard the Duck is finally available on DVD, ready to find a whole new audience. Drink deep, bad movie fans, you don't get releases like this to often.

1 comment:

Isaac said...

For every bad movie, there is an option. And that option is RiffTrax: