BIGFOOT WEEK: Henry and the Hendersons (1987)

George Henderson (John Lithgow) and his family are heading back from a trip to the Cascade mountains — the first trip where he hasn’t bagged an animal. That’s when he hits a big critter with his Ford Country Squire. More than that, he’s hit a sasquatch. And once he gets it strapped to the roof, he learns that it’s not dead. Nope, now it’s part of the family.

Harry soon escapes their suburban home before going wild throughout Seattle before becoming part of the family — just in time to leave them behind and go back home. He just has to avoid being captured or killed by Jacques LaFleur, a hunter who has been after Bigfoot so long that he’s become a joke.

This is another of the films that Becca watched nearly every single day, along with every Halloween film. She knows every character by name, every beat of the story and is able to explain each and every nuance of the story.

Hey — I’m always happy when Don Ameche shows up in a movie. Since my childhood, he’s always been known as John, half of The Bickersons with Frances Langford as Blanche. Here, he plays Dr. Wallace Wrightwood, a man whose life was ruined by his search for Bigfoot.

Rick Baker did an amazing job on the FX here, placing Predator actor Kevin Peter Hall into a complex costume that makes him look exactly as we imagine a Sasquatch to look like. I love the sequence at the end where Harry’s real family reveals themselves in the forest, including a child! No wonder this movie won an Academy Award for Best Make-Up.

Here’s some trivia for you. Co-writer Bill Martin also wrote songs for Harry Nilsson’s “Harry” album and can be seen wearing a bear costume on the album’s art. That’s where Harry gets his name — he’s named for Nilsson (Son of Dracula). Plus, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman claims that David Suchet’s Jacques character is based on Rene Dahinden, a Canadian by way of Switzerland researcher who was a big advocate for the Patterson-Gimlin film. He also claims that Ameche’s character is a combination of Sasquatch researchers John Green, Peter Byrne and Dr. Grover Krantz.

This led to a TV series and will be, one imagines, one day remade as an inferior reimagining. You can watch it for yourself on Netflix.

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