Golden Raspberry Awards: 1986

Razzies - 1986

The Golden Raspberries started off as an informal joke.  Something for a publicist and his friends to do after the Oscars had ended.  Over time, it has become and enduring and irreverent tradition.  In theory, The Razzies poke fun at the worst movies of the year.  But like any awards ceremony, the Razzies frequently make the wrong call.  We’re going back and looking at the history of the Golden Raspberry Awards one year at a time.

The seventh annual Razzies nominated the movies of 1986.  Top Gun and Crocodile Dundee were the big movies that year.  Platoon won Best Picture at the Oscars and Hannah and Her Sisters swept the supporting categories with wins for Michael Caine and Diane Weist.  The Razzies saw an influx of 80’s pop stars as well as the arrival of a talking duck.

Jaws - Bruce

Worst Career Achievement Award: Bruce the rubber shark from Jaws (1975), Jaws 2 (1978) and Jaws 3-D (1983)

The Worst Career Achievement Award has been handed out intermittently and the Razzies never seemed to get a handle on what it was supposed to be.  At this point, they just threw up their hands and gave it to the mechanical shark from the Jaws movies.  Once again, they have given out the award prematurely.  Jaws the Revenge would be the final entry in the franchise in 1987.  Seems like they could have waited a year for this gag.

I don’t really know what to say about the “career” of a mechanical shark.  Obviously, the same device wasn’t even used in all three movies up to this point.  Everyone talks about how “the shark looks fake” but I have never really understood the criticism.  At least not for the first two movies.  The shark in Jaws 3-D looked fake as f*ck.  But in the seventies audiences were scared silly of that rubber shark.  Seems to me like it got the job done.  Roy Scheider sure didn’t think it looked fake.

This is the last we’re going to see of the Career Achievement Award for a while.  It wouldn’t be invoked again for over two decades.  As this award was being retired, the Razzies introduced a new category.

Howard the Duck - Effects

Worst Visual Effects

  • Howard the Duck, visual effects by Industrial Light and Magic
  • Invaders from Mars, special visual effects by John Dykstra, creatures designed by Stan Winston
  • King Kong Lives, creature creations by Carlo Rambaldi

Winner: Howard the Duck

The Worst Visual Effects award ties in thematically with Bruce the Shark being awarded Worst Career Achievement because Bruce was essentially a special effect.  I haven’t looked ahead, but I am willing to bet we will see a nomination for Jaws: The Revenge next year.

I’m probably going to be pretty disagreeable when it comes to this category.  Looking back from a modern perspective, those old-fashioned practical effects seem pretty special.  Yeah, the Kong of King Kong Lives was a guy in a suit.  I miss the days when giant gorillas were played by guys in suits!

I don’t think these movies were guilty of bad special effects so much as they were guilty of being bad movies that relied heavily on special effects.  That’s especially true for the winner, Howard the Duck.  For the time, the special effects in Howard the Duck were pretty spectacular.  The problem was that they were in service of a lousy movie.

Next: Worst Original Song


Posted on November 12, 2015, in Awards, Movies, Razzies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. There probably isn’t going to be too much disagreement among us – these are not good movies 🙂 I take issue with your statement that Madonna isn’t a good singer, though. She definitely is.
    I will fess up to being one of several people in the continental US… maybe the entire continent… that liked Cherry Moon and saw it in theatre. I was in my “film student” phase and enjoyed analyzing the Fellini-esque qualities, or at least, what Prince was trying to do in that regard. It was fun at the time, but not enough to have ever watched it a second time, though. Still, the movie did produce some notable soundtracks, “Mountains” being an exceptionally artistic music video, and Prince had some crazy chemistry with Kristin Scott Thomas.


  2. “It’s just a shame Cobra couldn’t win too, but then they beat up on Stallone enough last year.”

    Cobra was more deserving of the honor than Rambo II.

    As far as Beatrice Straight goes, when I think of her, the one role outside of Poltergeist that comes to mind is as William Holden’s wife in Network,

    Prince? He personally saw to it that any video, anything featuring his music was removed from Youtube. As far as him as an actor, well he’s a good singer and a great songwriter and guitarist. Purple Rain was his best movie. But it was still pretty mediocre although the album is one of my top ten of all-time.


    • Right. Straight won an Oscar for basically one speech. Maybe the Razzies were evening the score by nominating her for a small part in Power. That one mystifies me.

      Definitely agree that Stallone should have won for other movies besides the ones he won for. Cobra and Staying Alive were worse movies than Rambo and he wasn’t even nominated for Staying Alive. The story of Stallone and the Razzies will continue next week of course.


    • The CineFiles – PRINCE MOVIES

      The gang discuss the films of the purple one: PURPLE RAIN, UNDER A CHERRY MOON and GRAFITTI BRIDGE… plus more!


  3. I don’t think that any of those songs are really all that bad, even the Howard the Duck song.


  4. It seems odd to me that they went after Bruce the shark in 1986, 3 long years since the last Jaws film. So at that point you have one absolute great Jaws film, one decent film, and a dud. But the lone turkey at the time was 3 years ago! If it had been 1987, after Jaws The Revenge, the Worst Career award would have made more sense as a joke. It seems at times like they’re grasping at straws for a gag nomination.


    • Agreed.

      I have two theories. One, even in the good movies people joked about the shark looking fake. I thought the effect was used well in the first two movies. Admittedly, the effects in Jaws 3 were lousy. But as you say, that’s one out of three and the last movie was 3 years in the past.

      Two, the awards for 1986 were given in early 1987 when Jaws 4 was on the horizon. So they may have been trying to get some publicity off the upcoming movie.

      And I guess the most obvious thing was just that it’s an easy target.


  5. “Stephen King was coked out of his mind while making Maximum Overdrive. And yet to Razzie voters he still apparently did a better job directing than Prince.” I must admit that is pretty hilarious.


  6. After a day in which a tree fell down from my property, puncturing the gas meter and wrecking the car, this article is a nice switch into reality. Yep, so I’m glad that the neighborhood didn’t blow up, and that we’re reading about 1986 here, which was big on blockbuster turkeys. I honestly can’t quibble with any of the names or films nominated, but I agree with Lebeau that “Wisdom” (or, “Wisdumb”, as one critic once wrote) was a missed opportunity. However, I would’ve voted for either “Under The Cherry Moon” (have it on DVD; it’ll be dull) or “Shanghai Surprise” (relentlessly stupid) over “Howard the Duck”.


    • Hope everyone’s okay! I thought I was on a run of bad luck, but you have me beat!


      • Thanks for the comment from both you and RB. Yeah, this situation hasn’t improved, as the preliminary talks on the Taurus is that it will have to be junked due to the front end damage (no other vehicle either) and now the hot water tank won’t fire up (the National Fuel guy wouldn’t do it because he didn’t want to be responsible if he ignited it due to him not liking the setup of the the tank. Seriously). Since it’s Friday, it’s all a holding pattern until Monday, so who knows what’s in store. I am still thankful there wasn’t a streetwide gas explosion, but other than that, this situation deserves my Golden Raspberry for 2015:-(


        • This sort of thing always seems to happen on weekends and holidays, doesn’t it? Sending some positive vibes your way. Hoping for the best!


        • Thank you very much.


        • Gluserty, as I listen to the wind and occasional rain on the windows, I’m really hoping you have heat this weekend!!


        • I have a small heater plus some thick and warm winter clothes, so I should be alright with that. But yeah, that wicked wind was the cause of this trouble to begin with, so that still remains a concern. Honestly, I’m still miffed at the National Fuel guy being more concerned with suspected gas leaks instead of the freaking burst pipe (of all the emergency services, National Fuel guy was the last to arrive, and by then a fireman already took a wrench to quell the burst pipe). He did well with replacing the gas meter, but he just didn’t understand the severity of the initial situation, then became anal with everything else. Looks like I’ll just have to call a guy about the hot water tank and heat now:-/


      • Another thing: someday soon I hope I’m able to laugh at my next door neighbor’s “Run for your lives!” comment that was straight out of a disaster movie (she was interviewed for the 5 O’Clock news, so she did get her close-up).


  7. Yikes, man, you’ve had quite the day! Is it a nice switch into reality, or away from it? In my case, it was definitely away from reality. I took my laptop into the supply room at work to get away from relentless cubicle and other noise. Now that I’m reading your comment, I have nothing to complain about…


  8. The same friend of mine who was responsible for introducing me to Where the Boys Are ’84, Lust in the Dust, and Caged Heat on home video dragged me to see Howard the Duck in the movie theater, so I kind of wasn’t surprised to see things like duck boobs. My main takeaways were: 1) apparently there are lots of really weird movies and 2) my friend is a perv.


    • Is that “Caged heat” or “Chained Heat”? I only ask because “Chained Heat” is from the period of those other films mentioned (1983) while “Caged Heat” is from 1974 (and arguably the best of the “women in prison” films). It’s confusing though, having all this heat.


      • lol
        It might very well have been Chained Heat. The only reason I think it was not is that I don’t remember seeing John Vernon who I would have recognized from Animal House.


  9. Cinemadonna: Shanghai Surprise (1986)

    The legend of Madonna, queen of the Razzies, begins with her first leading role in “Shanghai Surprise”, a bomb that stank like chow mein.


  10. Cobra: A 30th Anniversary Celebration

    When it was released 30 years ago, Cobra was maligned by critics, and it would be nominated for six Razzie Awards altogether. The critics of the time were unable to find favor with the corny dialogue, genre hallmarks and abundance of senseless violence. However, the critical mauling didn’t derail its box office success, as it went on to rake in $160 million on the back of a $25 million budget. Unfortunately, a sequel never materialized, though a surprisingly brilliant computer game did. Even though the ZX Spectrum version of Cobra bore very little resemblance to the film, it was a cracking title, as you rampaged through the early levels literally – and we’re well aware how misused that word can be – headbutting foes out of the way.


  11. When MTV Celebrated The Films Of 1986

    It’s hard to even say the word “MTV” these days without reflexively issuing a lamenting sigh. I don’t wish to reopen old wounds and harsh the buzz of whatever episode of Catfish or Shannara Chronicles you are watching, but for MTV oldheads such as myself, it is distressing to see the current state of the network. (I’ll spare you the tired “they don’t even play music anymore!” rant, as such a thing has been beaten into the ground so many times already). Still though, don’t you miss the weird, anything goes era of MTV? A time when they would give away a house or Batmobile, or let cutting-edge videos take center stage?

    Such thoughts have been in heavy rotation in my mind of late, exacerbated by this ad for an Attack of the Summer Movies promotion the network did in 1986. Watch it and then let’s discuss, okay?

    Labyrinth! Big Trouble in Little China! Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! Psycho III! Running Scared! Okay, so maybe not the last one, but we would love to see what type of coverage MTV gave these movies. Ditto for the Harold Ramis-hosted segments. As of this writing, only the commercial for the Attack of the Summer Movies promotion has surfaced online. As much of a bummer as that may be, it is likely that sooner or later this stuff will be uploaded and we can again revel in the glory of Anthony Perkis awkwardly doing intros for music videos. Dare to dream friends!


    • MTV holds focus groups on what to call the oncoming generation, and from what I learned from Trivia Hive is their title for the group is The Founders, as they are in charge of rebuilding the society that The Millennials have disrupted, at least according to them.


  12. 10 Movies That Completely Missed The Point

    Howard The Duck (1986)

    One of the most infamous what-the-hell flops in cinema history, the what-the-hell doesn’t come from trying to figure out how Howard The Duck wasn’t a hit. It’s a goofball adult sci-fi fantasy about a wisecracking duck facing down evil. There’s no built in audience for that.

    No, what’s amazing is that this bad, listless soup was green-lit to be adapted from the cult favorite Marvel comic book in the first place, never mind that it was shot, finished and released for real live people to look at.

    Sure, plenty of people have pulled the ‘so bad it’s good’ card here (it’s not), including the screenwriter, one Gloria Katz, who expressed her frustration with poor reviews by saying,

    “It’s a film about a duck from outer space… It’s not supposed to be an existential experience… We’re supposed to have fun with this concept, but for some reason reviewers weren’t able to get over that problem.”

    Well, unfortunately for Katz, that’s exactly what the source material was: an existential experience. Howard The Duck creator, the late Steve Gerber,

    “Howard the Duck was never a “humor” comic in the traditional sense. Howard wasn’t even a comedic character. He was frequently depressed, congenitally rude, and had a bad tendency to waddle all over other people’s feelings. The humor in the series derived from the absurdity of his situation – a sentient duck from another dimension, trapped in a world of what he called “talking hairless apes” – and from Howard’s mordant observations on the world around him…”

    The comic book was bitingly sharp satire; the film recast the premise as a crappy sitcom. One paints with a fine brush; the other with a roller, and in the wrong color. There may be no other adaptation of a comic book in history that’s this willfully tone deaf.



      When the Howard the Duck movie arrived in 1986, it had the makings of a surefire hit — it was executive produced by Star Wars mastermind George Lucas, directed by American Graffiti screenwriter Willard Huyck, and written by Huyck and Gloria Katz, whose previous credits included Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

      Howard the Duck adapted the Marvel comic of the same name, a cult favorite among readers since being introduced in the 1970s by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik. Gerber’s groundbreaking writing made the comic’s reputation, but the comic remains popular, and some runs are still classics — whereas the movie has gone down in history as one of Hollywood’s all-time misfires, currently holding a rating of 15 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. So just what’s so bad about Howard the Duck? What went so wrong that a great comic became a terrible film? Let’s take a closer look at the real reason the Howard the Duck movie was a total flop.

      The acting isn’t all it’s quacked up to be

      Howard wasn’t the only performer in the movie who had a hard time figuring out what to do with his face. Lea Thompson is very charming in Howard the Duck, but she maintains a dreamy quality throughout the movie that makes it hard to figure out if Beverly is meant to be a quirky artist or just kind of out of it. She floats above every scene she’s in, particularly when dialogue is involved. By far the worst performance, however, belongs to a young Tim Robbins. 

      Robbins is a respected actor and has been great in a lot of movies, but he’s outright terrible as Phil Blumburtt, a nerdy lab assistant who plays a major role in Howard the Duck. Robbins wildly swings from moment to moment, as if he thinks he’s in the cartoon this movie was originally meant to be. At one point he does an embarrassing Donald Duck impression that will make you wonder if this can really be the same actor from The Player and Shawshank Redemption.

      It’s possible that better performances could have saved Howard the Duck. On the other hand, with its tonal problems, the animatronic issues, failure to target an audience, and the weird sex stuff, it was most likely already doomed for a lot of other reasons. It’s a film that just doesn’t work, from the decision to make it live action on down. Its reputation as a disaster is not unwarranted, and to the degree that it’s fun to rewatch today, the purpose would likely be to make fun of its flaws — a beloved pastime of a certain kind of movie lover.


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