Everyone has an arch-nemesis. This does not have to be a person. It could be an irresistible snack food, control-top panty hose, itchy shirt collars, or that smug bitch from high school (you know who you are). I firmly believe that everyone should have something non-threatening to direct any excess anger towards.
My arch-nemesis is Howard the Duck. If you don’t easily recall 1986, let me refresh your memory. Howard the Duck is an anthropomorphic duck from outer space, who eventually nearly makes it with a punk Lea Thompson (I wish I had her hair from this movie). There were no CGI characters at the time, so Howard was played by a man in an over-sized, and wildly terrifying duck suit. (For some reason, characters seem way too accepting of this creepy duck man throughout the film.)
This, along with “Playduck Magazine,” and a separate instance of duck titties, should be enough to set any child of the 80’s against the horrifying film. But for me, it holds a special significance. Howard the Duck literally almost killed me. Let me explain.
I’m the youngest of two. My mother discovered after more than a day of hard labor with my sister that she could not physically give birth. Her doctor nonchalantly told her that had she been pregnant 100 years ago, she would have died. Thank God modern medicine allows for miracles and C-sections. My older sister is now pregnant with her first, continuing the line. We couldn’t be happier.
My mother’s pregnancy with me was high risk. My mom has a heart murmur and suffered from angina during the pregnancy. She had to go on bed rest for the last few months. There was also a serious risk that I would need a complete blood transfusion at birth. But she sincerely wanted me, and I’m grateful. She took particular care to stay healthy for both my sister and I.
Mom works for an insurance company located in Marin County, California. George Lucas lives a few short miles from her office, and Industrial Light and Magic was also housed nearby. (Fun fact: George Lucas lives in Lucas Valley. It was already called Lucas Valley when he moved there.)
The proximity to the Star Wars magnate should have meant nothing to my mother and father. But there was one day when Georgie Lucas needed to shoot aerial shots for a new film that he probably thought was going to recreate the magic of Star Wars (it didn’t). Although the film was notionally set in Cleveland, Marin could totally do the trick.
Georgie and his crew decided to shoot one of the aerial scenes at the office building where my mom still works. The shot was filmed in the winter. Normally Marin is pretty temperate, but winter temps can go below freezing overnight.
To prepare for shooting, they decided to spray down the whole employee parking lot to make it look nice and fresh for filming. Totally logical. Unfortunately, this water froze forming a lovely sheen of black ice. It probably looked great on film.
That day, in her high-risk pregnancy, my mom arrived early to work. Only a few of her co-workers knew she was pregnant at this point. She stepped out of her car, and slipped on the ice. Her body fell full force on the concrete.
A friend who knew was nearby and helped her stand. She was terrified. Mom said she thought for certain she would miscarry from the spill.
Somehow, I survived. I was full-term and healthy. The film was Howard the Duck. It came out a month after I did. There were pretty much no positive reviews. I recently sat through the film to see if it was any good. It wasn’t.
This is one of the unremarkable shots that nearly snuffed me out:
At least we get another view of Lea Michelle’s panties in the same scene.
After watching the film, I realized how unfortunate it would have been if anyone had died in order to bring Howard the Duck into the word. My mom jokes now that it would have been sad had my life been cut short thanks to the worst film ever made. I may be biased, but I tend to agree.
I wonder how many people have died to usher in films, good and bad. Is it possible that profitable producers are actually mass murderers? Unlikely. But it is likely that film crews over the years have been less than cautious with bystanders when constructing sets and setting up perfect scenes.
For years I’ve said that an anthropomorphic duck nearly took my life. Really it was the idiotic production crew, and probably George Lucas’ ego. Thanks, Georgie.
I guess my real plea here would be to ask for a little common sense and consideration. My father frequently comments that people are idiots for failing to recognize a logical outcome of their actions. I cannot fathom how anyone could not foresee that hosing down concrete in mid-winter would generate a layer of ice, and that this ice might pose a risk to the regular working folks trying to get into the office. But hindsight provides more clarity, and those morons didn’t even realize their actions could have killed me. Jerks.
So Howard, I will continue to despise you, but I think perhaps calling you my arch-nemesis is a bit too harsh. I’m sure if it were up to you, you would have stayed in comic books and not become the object of ridicule the big screen has made of you. My true arch-nemesis must instead shift to George Lucas. If nearly preventing my birth wasn’t enough to make me hate George Lucas, Jar Jar Binks certainly is. Therefore Mr. Lucas, I will now direct any excess anger towards you, cursing your name at every stubbed toe or broken hair-tie. It’s a small price, and one I feel justified in claiming, because you brought the worst film of all time into the world, and came close to taking me out in the process.