Bigfoot and the Hendersons is a 1987 film about an American family who encounter the legendary Bigfoot whilst returning from a family holiday in the wilderness. Â It was released in the UK under this title, but in the US it was known as Harry and the Hendersons.
The Henderson family are driving home from their holiday when they come across a large hairy creature lying in the road. Â Unsure what to do, they strap it to the top of their car and return home to there house in the Seattle suburbs.
The creature turns out to be a Sasquatch, better known as Bigfoot, and when it finally regains consciousness it sets to exploring its new environment, the Henderson’s house. Â After investigating a stuffed deer head hanging on the wall (and making a huge hole in the wall whilst trying to discover where the back half of the deer could be) the head of the family, George Henderson (John Lithgow) attempts to calm the confused beast.
Before long the Sasquatch has become a member of the family, and is named Harry by them. Â Despite his initial clumsiness Harry is actually a very kind and gentle creature, but he soon becomes intrigued by his new surroundings and sets off to explore the area, leaving a trail of panic and mayhem unintentionally behind him.
All this attracts the attention of a French Canadian hunter named Jacques LaFleur (David Suchet, better known these days for playing Poirot on UK television) who sets out to track Harry down. Â George races around town trying to find Harry before Jacques does, and when they finally find him the Henderson family decide the best course of action is to release Harry back into the wild.
With Jacques in hot pursuit the Henderson’s take Harry back to the forest, but he is reluctant to leave his new family. Â George punches Harry in the face, pretending he doesn’t like Harry any more, to get the Bigfoot to leave, which works. Unfortunately there is snow on the ground and Harry’s large feet (hence his name!) have left an easy trail for Jacques to follow. Â The family strap on some giant feet (lucky they had those handy!) and create additional trails to confuse the hunter.
Harry observes the family doing this from up in a tree, and realises that the family were just trying to protect him. Â When he then sees Jacques he realises that George may get shot by accident, and so leaps to the rescue, giving Jacques a little Bigfoot justice!
The film was so successful it spawned a TV series, entitled Harry and the Hendersons, just like the film was called in the US. Â Whilst the back story was pretty much the same as the film there were a few changes made to support a longer running TV show. Â It lasted for three series, with Harry trying to be kept secret by the Henderson family for the first two series. Â In the third and final series Harry is finally discovered and becomes a bit of a minor celebrity.
In many ways the TV show followed a similar format to US sitcom ALF, being a US family trying to keep an unusual creature hidden from the public eye. Â Both series featured a family where the father was desperate to keep the extra family member safe, the mother was generally critical to the whole idea, and there was a teenage daughter and younger son to round off the perfect average family unit.