Category Archives: 80’s movies
Jane and the Lost City 1987
After watching the Jane movie from the 1940s, I just had to follow it up with what would probably be called a reboot today. Nearly forty years later (after a couple television series) they made another Jane movie only this time it felt much more like the spirit of the comic, at least how it’s described in Wikipedia articles. When compared to the classic movie, this has a lot more humor and actually gives Jane a bit of agency here and there. And while it had a lot more moments of clothes ripping off of Jane, it still retained the comical spirit and never really veered off into creepy exploitation. Overall, it was a lot of fun to watch.Read the rest of this entry
#92: Howard The Duck
How Did This EVER Get Made?
…… Right. This film was one that I’d heard of before but had never bothered trying to watch. And when I say I’d heard of it, my entire knowledge of it is that:
1) The Nostalgia Critic did a review of it.
2) There are female duck breasts on screen. I’m not joking.
3) It’s based on a loved but obscure Marvel comic character.
That’s it. That’s my entire previous knowledge of this film. I didn’t even look anything up about it before I watched it because I wanted to go in blind. I’m fairly sure I made the right call, so if you also haven’t seen it yet, I would suggest doing so before reading this review (unless you don’t mind spoilers or just want to prove me wrong).
So I hit play, I watched it and now I need to talk about it. Be prepared, this review is going to some weird places.
- Howard The Duck (Ed Gale/Chip Zien)
There’s honestly way too much to unpack here for me to not make this the longest review I’ll ever write. So here’s what you need to know. He’s brought from a duck planet to ours by Deus Ex Machina, he’s supposedly a master fighter but manages to not really show that at all, he effectively forgets that he has a girlfriend from the moment he meets Lea Thompson and his jokes don’t land. However, for a product of its time, he actually works quite well. And compared to the live action TMNT of the 90’s, it’s astounding how well the duck costume works! But this character was definitely one that should have been on the back burner for a while before being brought forward, not the first Marvel live action film main star!
- Beverly (Lea Thompson)
So remember when Lea Thompson played Lorraine in BTTF? Well, take the young version of that, imagine her as a punk rocker who spends a fairly long scene in her underwear and then accept that she’s the love interest of the film. Yeah, you’ve got this character down. She’s fun, she’s very odd and she works really well. The only issue I had was that the bed scene (yep, there’s a bed scene) kinda looked like she was attempting to canoodle with a large kid’s toy. And that I just had to write that last sentence…
- Phil Blumburtt (Tim Robbins)
I….. honestly don’t know how to describe this guy. He’s insane, he’s very annoying and he’s kinda hard to watch. At least until the demon arrives. Then it’s as if Tim Robbins simply said “Screw it, I’m just going to have fun here!” and he hits the right level of snarky and over-the-top. And anyone who hasn’t seen the film is probably more interested in the demon bit. Don’t worry, he’s next! But seriously, this film has two very different versions of this character, with the latter half making up for the former half. So an overall “ok” grade then.
- Dr Walter Jennings (Jeffrey Jones)
And in this film about space ducks and a very odd 80’s Cleveland, OH, we reach the strangest character in the film. He starts off just fine. And then he’s possessed by an ancient evil from outer space (just roll with it) and starts to talk as if Judge Doom (the REAL JD) had a total laryngectomy. And he stays just like that for about 80% of his screen-time. This was a VERY odd choice. And I don’t know if it was the right one. It really is difficult to get used to. I’m sure many people love this guy, but it really didn’t work for me.
I’m going to simply type out how this film is set and let you do the jokes in your own head.
“A 27-year old Howard from Duckworld gets sucked into space and lands in 1980’s Cleveland, Ohio. He meets (in chronological order) the front lady for an all-female rock band, a scientist who’s actually a janitor and a scientist who becomes a demon. He then saves the world.”
Yeah, there’s nothing I can say that could poke more fun at that premise than the premise itself. So, moving on!
Who Is This Film For?
I’m honestly not sure who this was made for. Clearly the people involved were passionate about the project, since it’s just so odd that anyone not invested would have just given up or underperformed. I’ve done a little research into Howard and it seems like there’s quite a huge lore and rich history there. He even fights a Hellcow. I bet you wish they’d put that in this film! But anyway, back to the question at hand. I feel like everyone involved had an idea in their heads, but it never lined up. This also feels kinda like a first draft that nobody ever bothered to go back to before filming started. It’s definitely not one of the worst films of all time, but it’s nowhere near good cinema!
Anyway, on to Bubba’s thoughts on the whole thing.
I’ve actually seen this a few times now and I think the more I see it, the more I appreciate it although I would never in my right mind call this a good movie. There’s a lot to appreciate here, front and center is Lea Thompson’s Beverly. One of the most talked about scenes in this movie is when she is coming on to Howard, but I think it’s actually a more subtle performance and it’s more like they are joking around with each other and she is calling Howard’s bluff. You can see it in her face right before she starts going at him. Most of the rest of the movie just plain doesn’t make sense though. There’s nearly adult humor, like how Howard gets a job as a mop boy at what appears to be a sex motel. There’s an odd chase scene with an ultralight plane. Nearly every person in the film reacts differently to the fact that Howard is a duck, they either scream or act like it’s completely normal. And the rest of the acting is way over the top. It’s tough to know if they were really going for action, comedy, love story, or adventure and it fails at most of them.
Without going too much farther, it’s an odd thing to say but this is the first theatrical adaptation of a Marvel comic. Instead of going with one of their A-list characters, or even their B or C list characters, they go with the adult satirical non-superhero Howard the Duck. Not only that, but they get a pedigree behind it, George Lucas helped push to get this film made. And while it was originally considered as an animated film, they pushed up the release date and decided to make it live action to shorten the production time. This caused plenty of headaches with the duck suit and ultimately it became a box office bomb. It only grossed $37M worldwide on a $36M budget. In 1986. Nowadays it’s a bit of a cult film but overall it’s still considered one of the worst comic book movies ever made. But even so, nothing can take away from the fact that this was the first theatrically released Marvel movie.
Thanks once again Mr Wheat! So, let’s dive right into the last part. It’s time to ask those three important questions:
- Would I recommend this film to others?
- Does this film deserve to be on the list?
- If so, where does it appear on the list?
And before a Dark Overlord turns up, let’s get those answered!
1) Yeeeeeeeesssss? It’s something that a few of my friends would find fascinating. However I’d never suggest that someone who isn’t fully prepped. So make sure you adequately prepare anyone you suggest this to.
2) Yes it does. Despite any particular feelings you may have about this film, it is the first proper Marvel Live Action film (if you don’t count the 1944 Captain America B&W serial, which you shouldn’t) and as such should have a place on the list. And speaking of that…
3) Well, here it is:
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- The Crow
- Dr Strange
- Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
- Batman: The Killing Joke
- Superman 3
- The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
- Howard The Duck
- The Fantastic Four (1994)
- The Punisher
- Batman & Robin
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- BvS: Dawn Of Justice
Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)
I’m sure you guessed where it would go. It wasn’t quite the earliest Superhero film, but it was obscure and an attempt to bring a more interesting character to the masses. And possibly with more care and attention (and just better effects overall), we can get a remake/reboot that will do the character justice in the not-too-distant future.
And so, with all that being said, I better get out of here before I have to lay some Quack Fu on a local band manager!
Your deep dive into the top 100 Superhero films of all time!
Why Women Superheroes Had Trouble Getting Films Made
This film took me a long time to watch. Seriously, and I wish I wasn’t joking, this took me 4 separate sessions over a couple of weeks to finish. I would press play, get about 25 minutes in and just have to pause it. What does that mean for this review? You’re about to find out.
This film was hard to watch, but maybe not for the reasons you might think. I’m sure some people will happily take it as a sign that women cannot helm a major film. They are wrong. Others might take it to mean that I have an issue with the character in general. They would also be wrong. My main problem with this film is one of pacing. It’s the same issue I have with some of the older superhero films, where some parts just take AAAAGGGEEESSSS to get going, while other parts are over way too fast. I have another issue with this film, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
The Greatest American Heroine 1986
I often go back and forth on what I decide to include on my site as to what is a superhero movie and what isn’t. The question on this one is whether or not it should be considered a movie or an episode of television. It’s technically the final episode of the TV series The Greatest American Hero which ran for three seasons, but it didn’t air in its original run, instead it was only included later when it went into syndication and on later DVD releases. But it also did get its own separate DVD release under its own title. I was aware of the concept of the Greatest American Hero, but I had never actually seen any episodes before now. It felt a little on the campy side and I could tell that I was missing some things even though they included some recaps.
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The Legend of the Lone Ranger 1981
This is the third Lone Ranger movie that I’ve seen so far from this site. I went from the most recent one with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in 2013 on back to the original feature film spun off from the TV show back in 1952. Out of the three, this is definitely the worst, and surprisingly it follows a few of the same beats as the 2013 movie as it covers the origin of the Lone Ranger since it was essentially supposed to be a reboot of the story from the 50’s. The big difference is that this film runs an hour shorter. It cast two unknowns in the roles of Tonto and John Reid as well as Christopher Lloyd as Butch Cavendish who was also a character in the 2013 film, likely because they both pull from the same sources. This film also ends with a train heist, though it’s much more truncated as the plan is more interested in kidnapping the president than anything else. But the film lacks action, acting, even much of a score, not to mention that it opened just a month before Raiders of the Lost Ark which was far and away a much better film than this one.
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When the Wind Blows 1986
This post is doing double duty for me as it technically kicked off yet another animation month as well as being a part of A Timely Blogathon that’s being run by Film Grimoire and MovieRob all about films that are 90 minutes or less even though it will have posted over on their site before I decided to share it here as well. And since I saved it for their blogathon it also just about wraps up my own animation month aside from one final movie I hope to cover tomorrow. This film is ten minutes shy of the 90 minute limit for the blogathon which isn’t surprising since most animated films run shorter than live action due to the amount of work involved in each minute of animation versus each minute of live action. The film itself follows an elderly couple in the English countryside who had lived through the second World War and are now faced with the fallout of the first attack kicking off a third.
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Flash Gordon The Greatest Adventure of All 1982
I only have one other animated movie to cover after this before I have watched every one that I’m aware of out there which gets me one step closer to my goal of watching every superhero and comic book movie ever made. This film was actually made a few years before it was ever shown. It was initially created as a TV movie by Filmation, the animation studio behind such 80’s staples as He-Man, and many of the DC shows that weren’t produced by Hanna-Barbera, but it was quickly retooled into a TV series. It wasn’t until after the show had been cancelled that they went back to the original footage and aired it as a TV movie as it was intended. It has yet to receive an official release, but it did get a home video release in Japan where it can currently be found online with Japanese subtitles. I was never a big connoisseur of Filmation shows aside from vague memories of He-Man, She-Ra, Bravestarr, and Fat Albert. Watching this I could see the appeal, and it actually felt much more adult than most of what they were known for. There were obvious cost-cutting techniques and rotoscoping, but there was a level of faithfulness that didn’t quite ever come across in the live-action movie. They were able to pull off more monstrous looking creatures within the world and overall more of a sci-fi vibe to it. For me, it didn’t quite come to the fun and campy level that the live-action movie did, it felt like it took the material more seriously, but the quality just wasn’t quite enough for it to be a truly great film.
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The Spirit 1987
To go along with the other cult movies that other bloggers have picked out for me, I thought I’d follow along with some cult films of my own choosing. I have no idea whether or not this really counts as much of a cult film, though I have heard from at least two people who have seen this and thought it was much better than the theatrical Frank Miller version. This was made in the mid-Eighties with Sam J. Jones as the lead, better known as Flash Gordon himself. It also had Nana Visitor as his love interest who I was familiar with as Major Kira on Star Trek: Deep Space 9. But most of all, this pilot movie was extremely 80’s. From the music to the cheap sets to the power suits and cassette walkmen, it was very much steeped in the 80’s and for that reason alone, I had a lot of fun watching this. Most of it is even set up to have much more of a comedy feel than an action/detective vibe. It was as close to Adam West’s Batman with a bit more 80’s sensibilities than you could ever get.
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Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins 1985
Lately, I’ve gone back and forth about what movies I include in the comic book and superhero category. Often times in the past, I have preferred to err on the side of inclusion, but lately I’ve started to go against that considering I decided to exclude the “superhero” movie The Adventures of Food Boy that really had nothing to do with superheroes. Remo Williams is one of those that falls closer to the lines of Buckaroo Bonzai, plus the fact that he has some extraordinary abilities learned through the martial art of Sinanju, and he has his identity changed from his previous life as a cop. But I decided that those for whatever reason just aren’t quite enough for me and this film falls a little bit more on the line of a martial arts/spy film rather than a superhero film. There were even comic books made based on this character, but they came out after this film. The film itself was a lot of fun mired behind a lack of focus and pacing, almost a parody of action/spy films while still taking itself mostly seriously.
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One thing that I’ve been a big fan of for quite a while is the TV show Tales From the Crypt, and before that show existed it was a series of several different comic books from EC comics under titles like Shock Suspenstories, the Vault of Horror, and Weird Science. This film was made as an homage to those comics combined with the short stories of Stephen King. Last March during my first Graphic Horror Blogathon Jason Soto over at Your Face! reviewed this film and put it on my radar, but it’s taken me this long to finally get around to it. Another reason why I wanted to watch this is because Movie Reviews 101 and Movie Rob are holding a Stephen King-a-thon all this month so be sure and check out all of their Stephen King reviews while you’re at it. As far as the movie goes, it’s not quite on par with Tales From the Crypt for me, it’s much more on the comedic side of things than the horror side and that didn’t quite work for me though I could see the appeal of it.
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