Prince in ‘Under the Cherry Moon,’ which shared Worst Picture ‘honors’ with ‘Howard the Duck’ at a Razzies that hit the jackpot with summer releases of 1986 (Warner Bros.)
Summer 1986 was a good time to be a lover of ‘What Were They Thinking?’-style bad movies. Just take a look at the nominees list for the 1986 Razzies (a.k.a., the Golden Raspberry Awards) handed out on March 29, 1987: You know there’s something special in the air when the contenders for the worst of the year in movies came from a talent pool that included Prince, Madonna, George Lucas, Sean Penn, Sylvester Stallone, Peter O’Toole, Tim Robbins, Oscar winners Louise Fletcher and Beatrice Straight, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen King, 18-time Oscar nominee Henry Mancini, and George Harrison. OK, and “the six guys and gals in the [Howard the Duck] suit,” too.
Summer releases dominated the Razzies’ 10 categories: Four of the five Worst Picture nominees — Under the Cherry Moon, Howard the Duck, Cobra, and Shanghai Surprise — were all released between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. (The fifth nominee, Blue City, a would-be Brat Pack noir starring Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy, arrived just a little too soon, on May 2.) Six other films released in the summer of ’86 — Maximum Overdrive, Club Paradise, Haunted Honeymoon, Invaders From Mars, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, and American Anthem — also got some Razzie “glory.”
Watch a 30-second promo for Razzies 1986 Worst Picture co-winner ‘Howard the Duck’:
At least it was an interesting roster of films that went off the rails. Under the Cherry Moon had Prince and a great soundtrack. Howard the Duck tried to translate a cult Marvel Comic for the mainstream with Star Wars’ creator as executive producer. Cobra was a critical punching bag, but Rocky creator Stallone laughed all the way to the bank when his supercop drama topped the box office for two weeks and was No. 15 in earnings for the year. Shanghai Surprise, meanwhile, gave us the onscreen pairing of then-newlyweds Sean Penn and Madonna (who nabbed the Worst Actress Razzie), with music from ex-Beatle Harrison (a Worst Original Song nominee).
Related: Summer of ’86: Some Quack Analysis of the Mega-Bomb ‘Howard the Duck’
Some notable achievements — only some dubious — from the Razzies’ Class of ’86:
* Kristin Scott Thomas, nominated as Worst Supporting Actress and Worst New Star for her film debut in Under the Cherry Moon would do better in 1994, winning a BAFTA in the U.K. as Best Supporting Actress for Four Weddings and a Funeral. She then snagged a Best Actress Oscar nomination in 1996 for The English Patient.
Watch the trailer for Razzies 1986 Worst Picture co-winner ‘Under the Cherry Moon’:
* Tim Robbins would eventually follow his Worst Supporting Actor-nominated role in Howard the Duck with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar win in 2003 for Mystic River, following his Oscar nomination for Best Director for 1995′s Dead Man Walking.
* Peter O’Toole was nominated for an Oscar eight times without winning, finally receiving an honorary statue in 2002. If it was any consolation, he also lost his Worst Supporting Actor bid in 1986 for Club Paradise, to Jerome Benton for Under the Cherry Moon. He had lost his previous Razzie nomination, as Worst Actor for Supergirl in 1984, to Sylvester Stallone for Rhinestone.
Watch a very-’80s promo for Razzies 1986 Worst Picture nominee ‘Cobra’:
* Veteran comedian Dom DeLuise won Worst Supporting Actress for his role as “Aunt Kate” in Gene Wilder’s Haunted Honeymoon.
* Stephen King was nominated as Worst Director for Maximum Overdrive, and he might have voted for himself based on his later comment to author Tony Magistrale for the book Hollywood’s Stephen King — “I really didn’t know what I was doing.”
Related: 30 Years Later, We’re Making the Case for the Best Summer Movie Season Ever
* And, just as a reminder that individual taste is always subjective, the original song “Life in a Looking Glass” from Blake Edwards’ That’s Life! (one of the handful of 1986 Razzie contenders not to have been released in the summer) by Henry Mancini and lyricist Leslie Bricusse was nominated for both a Razzie (it lost to Prince’s “Love or Money” from Under the Cherry Moon) and an Oscar (which went to “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun). Sometimes, you just can’t win…
Watch the trailer for Razzies 1986 Worst Picture nominee ‘Shanghai Surprise’: