Living a peaceful life in Duckland, an egg-shaped version of Earth, Howard is brought to Cleveland by a laser experiment gone awry. After befriending Beverly Switzler, a struggling rock musician, Howard attempts to find a way to get home. Unfortunately, the laser has also summoned the Dark Overlord of the Universe, who possesses an unlucky scientist and attempts to call forth his fellow aliens from a distant planet (the Nexus of Sominus) so that they may take over the world.
- Lea Thompson
- Jeffrey Jones
- Tim Robbins
- Ed Gale
- Paul Guilfoyle
- Chip Zien
Howard the Duck is a 1986 live-action film produced by Lucasfilm and Universal Pictures, directed by Willard Huyck from a script by Huyck and his wife Gloria Katz. It starred Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins and Chip Zien as the voice of Howard. It was inspired by the Marvel Comics characters Howard the Duck and Beverly Switzler created by Steve Gerber, although their appearance and portrayals almost completely ignored their source material.
The film was widely panned and was a U.S. box office bomb. In his Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin calls the film a "hopeless mess of a movie." The film was also among Siskel and Ebert's picks for the "Worst Films of 1986."
Steve Gerber told Starlog that he liked it better than any other Howard the Duck script that he had read. He has retracted this statement numerous times.
"As for my comments at the time about the film script, well -- to put it bluntly, I lied. I was hoping against hope that the script and the movie itself weren't as bad as I thought they were. Or at least, that they wouldn't be received as badly as I thought they would. I hated most of the movies coming out of Hollywood at the time, and the ones I hated most turned into box office blockbusters. I didn't think my own tastes were a reliable indicator of what the public might want, so I tried to say nothing that would discourage people from seeing the film. Sadly, the HTD movie was one of the few instances in which my taste and the public's coincided.”"
Even though it was a commercial failure in the U.S., the movie managed to gross outside the U.S. $21,000,000 -- beating its domestic gross by over 55%, and therefore exceeding its costs. It was also quite sucsessful at the Finnish box office.
The film did renew enough attention on the character for Marvel Comics to keep using the character on occasion. It also still gets television showings on RTL 2 and VOX in Germany, TVE2 in Spain, Space and CTV in Canada and the occasional screening in the UK on satellite broadcasts. Most recently it was shown on the U.S. pay-TV network Encore on July 21, 2007.
Like the film itself, the soundtrack album has its own appreciative 'cult' despite its commercial failure. The album's rarity alone makes it a much sought after collectible; few copies were produced or sold (being the soundtrack to a movie that not many people saw in theatres), the album has been out of print for decades, and the tracks have never appeared on any other releases. The 'star-power' of the soundtrack also has also added to its collectibility - the original score was composed by John Barry, with additional music composed by synth wizard Thomas Dolby; George Clinton, Joe Walsh and Stevie Wonder also appear on the album.
The tracklisting for the original release was as follows:
Hunger City (04:12) Performed by Dolby's Cube Feat. Cherry Bomb (lead vocals: Lea Thompson)
Howard the Duck (03:55) Performed by Dolby's Cube Feat. Cherry Bomb (lead vocals: Lea Thompson, background vocals: George Clinton, guitar: Joe Walsh)
Don't Turn Away (05:05) Performed by Thomas Dolby, Harmonica: Stevie Wonder Feat. Cherry Bomb (lead vocals: Lea Thompson)
It Don't Come Cheap (04:46) Performed by Dolby's Cube Feat. Cherry Bomb (lead vocals: Lea Thompson, guitar: Joe Walsh)
I'm On My Way (02:55) Performed by Thomas Dolby Lullaby of Duckland (02:28) (John Barry)
Journey To Earth (02:42) (John Barry)
You're the Duckiest (02:09) (John Barry)
Ultralight Flight (02:58) (John Barry)
Beddy-Bye for Howard (02:46) (John Barry)
Dark Overlord (05:30) (John Barry)
Also, on some B Sides of some of the album singles, an alternate version of "Don't Turn Away" was released with vocals entirely by Lea Thompson and this version is the same as the one featured in the movie.
Another notable song is the "Howard the Duck Megamix", a remix of the album track, and which was released as a B Side.
- This is the first film based off Marvel Comics to be released theatrically in American theaters since the 1944 Captain America film serial.
- During its filming time, the movie was the only Marvel Comics film adaptation to be rated PG until the 2007 release of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
- Many lines of dialog in the film are derived directly from Bill Mantlo's magazine scripts, in particular, the "Duckworld" story that Gerber has often spoken out against.
- The character of Beverly was originally offered to the then-unknown Tori Amos, but the offer was retracted when Thompson expressed interest.
- At the time, Amos was the lead singer in a rock band.
- In an episode of The Golden Girls, Rose comforts a man who admits to being a primary backer for Howard the Duck.
- In an episode of Animaniacs, a video copy of Howard the Duck is used as a weapon, an exploding 'bomb'.
- In an issue of She-Hulk, Howard the Duck can be seen in the background suing a movie director who resembles George Lucas concerning the failure of his movie.
- In a song performed by William Shatner on the 2005 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute To George Lucas show, he comments about how Howard the Duck was a failure, only to be escorted off-stage by Imperial Stormtroopers.
- Marvel made a three issue comic based on the movie called Howard the Duck: The Movie.
- Besides Howard (who was portrayed by an assortment of stunt actors in duck suits), the only character borrowed from the comic book was Beverly.
- Characters from Howard the Duck (film)
- Other things related to Howard the Duck (film)
- Film Gallery: Howard the Duck (film)
- Images from the film