DVD Review: Harry and the Hendersons

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on May 25th, 2007

Harry and the Hendersons DVD

It is available from Amazon.com for the meager price of $9.99.

DVD Review: Harry and the Hendersons

Harry and the Hendersons is one of the lost ‘80s classics. If you’ve seen it, you assuredly have fond memories. If you haven’t, you probably never knew it existed, and without a DVD release until now, it’s hard to blame you.

Regardless of who has actually seen this small family masterpiece, it’s a memorable film with a great creature design by Rick Baker, solid performances all around, and the right mix of humor and drama. The story is about a typical Seattle family suddenly stuck with a giant bigfoot for an unwanted pet.

There’s a significant amount of subtle and non-subtle commentary on animal rights. In fact, that’s the main reason for the Hendersons choosing to keep the creature they accidentally hit with their car. Much of the humor in the film comes from Harry’s antics and adjustment to suburban life. Portrayed by Kevin Peter Hall, notable also for his performance as the Predator, Harry has an astounding amount of emotional ammunition to use as needed.

In fact, the film works as it does solely because of Baker and Hall. Everything hinges on the believability of the creature, and it’s so flawlessly crafted, even as the bigfoot creature takes on human characteristics (he loves The Addams Family) the audience never loses the illusion that he’s an animal away from his home. The human story is filled with general characters, particularly Margaret Langrick stuck in the role of a rebellious teenager with little else to do. The film also dies down in the middle after Harry escapes and the film moves into a sub-plot about a desperate hunter attempting to track down the creature.

While purely family fare, the youngest may be better off waiting a few years yet. William Dear’s direction can put the creature in an extremely terrifying light, particularly during the first full reveal in a dark kitchen. The rest of the film will captivate everyone in the audience.

Some may also find the message too pushy, though if that’s the case, you’re looking far too deep into this light-hearted fare. Taken for the fun romp it is, Harry and the Hendersons withstands the test of time. It remains as enjoyable as it was back in 1987. Four out of Five Stars
“Stunning” is the immediate reaction to this DVD transfer. Colors are rich and bold, and clarity is remarkable. The print used doesn’t have a single flaw for the entire running time. Compression is never a problem, while light grain on certain shots does prevent this from being perfect. This never looks like a 20-year-old film. Four out of Five Stars
While some dialogue sounds flat, the newly remastered 5.1 audio mix is fantastic. Harry creates powerful shots from the LFE channel as he steps. Rear speaker usage is surprisingly consistent. Subtle audio such as birds chirping fits in right alongside heavier uses during active sequences. It was worth the wait on DVD. Four out of Five Stars
Extras begin with a decent commentary by director Dear. While he sometimes states the obvious, he delivers stories from the set and specific information on the creation of the film. Three minutes of deleted scenes deliver mostly redundant information given to the audience quicker in the finished film.

Harry: Finding the Missing Link is a nice behind-the-scenes feature that runs for 17 minutes. The footage of Rick Baker designing the suit is especially nice. Making Harry and the Hendersons goes right along with a newswrap reel produced to promote the film in 1987. They last about nine minutes total. Three out of Five Stars
When William Dear first heard of the concept, it was in the form of a TV sitcom. Wisely, he saw the opportunity to turn this into a film, where the story could be fleshed out and the budget open to making an expressive friendly giant. Eventually, after a solid box office, it did become a TV series. No actors reprised their role for the two season run aside from Kevin Peter Hall.Matt Paprocki

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

4 Responses to “DVD Review: Harry and the Hendersons”

  1. big max 2 responds:

    I actually saw this movie in early 1988 in Australia on a date! Sure I had an interest in cryptozoology but would my girlfriend? She loved it! I can tell you that this is not just a family movie. It gives you the warm and fuzzies on a number of levels and as the reviews above state, the bigfoot is very well crafted and the story delightfully developed. Marvelous stuff!

  2. Bob Michaels responds:

    I remember when it came out, I very rarely go to the movies, but if it’s out on DVD I will have to see it.

  3. mystery_man responds:

    One of my favorite crypto themed films of all time. Good to see the Bigfoot is still getting work selling pizza, beef jerky, and ice cream. 🙂

  4. Robsquatch responds:

    I could be wrong but if I remember correctly, I think someone mentioned to me that Rick Noll, and one other Bigfooter (I can’t remember his name) were consultants on the set. I’m not sure in what capacity though.

    I looked carefully through the credits at the end to see if there might be mention of him but there was none. Not even a special thanks. So, whether it’s true or not I couldn’t tell you.

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