HAPPY 30TH, HARRY.
This week the cherished masterpiece Harry and the Hendersons turns 30 years old! Before we start the party, a couple quick thoughts from Harry’s #1 disciple, Uncle TNUC.
Just the other day when the topic of a ‘Bigfoot’ came up in a group conversation, 3 out of the 4 people immediately rolled their eyes after just mentioning the elusive beast. At first I was enraged and wanted to club them over their heads, but then I quickly realized why they displayed this knee-jerk sort of reaction. The current state of Sasquatch SUCKS.
It has nothing to do with our lack of actual evidence that a Bigfoot exists. The blame goes entirely to those pasty, loser virgins on the Discovery channel who made a reality show about ‘Finding Bigfoot’. It’s not worth delving into, but let’s just all agree that these uncool tubs of lard have temporarily ruined the mystique of Sasquatch thanks to their whining, crying and blobbing around in the woods, farting in their sweatpants.
DEATH TO FALSE SASQUATCH SUPPORTERS.
I know I’m not alone in admitting that still to this day when I think of a Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti, only one lovable creature with a heart as big as his feet comes to mind: HARRY!
As a kid and throughout most of my manhood I’ve been intrigued by this big stinky creature and I credit Harry and the Hendersons for 97% of the fascination. It felt like more than a movie. This was a unique, first glimpse at everything you dreamed a Sasquatch to be, with serious thanks to the special effects magic of legendary artist, Rick Baker.
OK…time to pump this party by reliving some fond memories of Harry and the Hendersons — released 30 years ago this week in 1987!
As seen in the clip, Harry was created from a genius combination of face animatronics and an actor in a massive, furry costume played by Kevin Peter Hall (he also played the Predator). A big reason why Harry connected to so many people was the expressions and emotions that Rick Baker was able to create though control mechanisms. Multiple puppeteers had the job of controlling his facial gestures which were constantly changing during any given scene. Rick Baker’s creation won him the award for Best Makeup at the 1988 Oscars.
Click images to enlarge.
The rip-roaring success of Harry and the Hendersons was followed by pop culture megastardom. Harry appeared in trading cards, gum packaging, in toy lines and a special residency at Universal Studios Florida as part of a studio tour. But my favorite Harry take-home item is the stuffed animal version who resembles a nice old man morphing into a gorilla…
Made by Galoob in 1990, these furry-rubber, miniature companions were probably the closest you could get to having a Bigfoot live with your family, even if he’s 99,000x smaller than the real thing. One year later in 1991, a talking version of Harry was introduced.
However it does beg the question of why this guy arrived almost three years after the film’s release? Answer: Because the doll was actually based off the Harry and the Hendersons: THE TV SHOW!
Harry and the Hendersons: The TV Series enjoyed a three season span on NBC from 1991 – 1993. Aside from the fantastic intro song “Your Feet’s too Big” by Leon Redbone, the show didn’t perform as expected. One crushing blow was the death of Kevin Peter Hall which happened late into production of the first season. As previously stated, Hall also played Harry in the original film. He was replaced with several other actors, but the loss of Hall made a significant impact. Also, no offense to Bruce Davinson who played the dad in the series, but I think if John Lithgow had reprised his role from the movie it could’ve been more successful. Everyone knows Lithgow hit a goddamn grand slam playing George Henderson.
Looking back now, the scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest played a significant role in this film’s appeal. Everything from the wood-paneled automobiles to George Henderson’s flannel collection portrayed a quality that wouldn’t have been possible if the movie’s location was New York City or Los Angeles.
If you’re ever passing through the town of Index, Washington, look for the Bigfoot statue which marks one of the spots where the movie was filmed. Stop in at the nearby coffee shop which sells Bigfoot hair and Bigfoot-shaped cookies.
Please join TNUC in celebrating Harry’s big 30th birthday by raising a sudsy can of beer and giving this heartwarming motion picture a fresh viewing. It’s truly the feel-good-flick of the century.