Even mediocre movies offer DVD extras extolling how “powerful” the film turned out to be and tales of the “amazing” on-set chemistry.
But what’s a studio to do when it releases “Howard the Duck” on DVD, the 1986 film which out Ishtarred “Ishtar” and made “Heaven’s Gate” look like a mild flop?
The extras included on “Duck,” enjoying its first stateside DVD release March 10, confront the problem head on. And, of course, crank up the spin machine in the process.
First, let’s consider the film in question. Yes, it’s as awful as advertised, a junk pile of stale duck puns and tone deaf appeals to young viewers.
The kiddies might have embraced “Howard” if not for a plethora of gags – duck condoms and a makeout scene between co-star Lea Thompson and Howard himself among them – that took the pre-teen option off the table.
The film’s creators, filmmakers Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, stubbornly cling to their notion that “Howard” was misunderstood while acknowledging the film’s reception was less than celebratory. They insist the film still has a fan base today, as does the man who gave life to Howard, Ed Gale.
Thompson shares the most personal revelations, recalling how she broke down on the set of her next film following “Duck’s” crash, a sort of post traumatic duck disorder.
As it stands, “Howard the Duck” is a fine example of ’80s cinematic excess, featuring actors who defined the era (Thompson, Jeffrey Jones), effects on the cusp of the forthcoming FX revolution and a producer (George Lucas) who used up most of his Force creating the “Star Wars” trilogy.
Lucas isn’t present in the new bonus features, but Katz relates how the “Star Wars” visionary insisted that time would ultimately vindicate “Duck.”
Maybe that will prove true in another 23 years, but for now “Howard the Duck” lays an egg all over again.