Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 19th, 2008
What is in store for the next twenty years of Bigfoot? What visual imagery does the next generation have in mind for Bigfoot?
What can we learn from the past recent history of the appearances of Sasquatch about the future look of the hairy hominoids?
Twenty years ago, one movie changed the image of Bigfoot. During the previous twenty years, from 1967 through 1987, the psychological and visual Bigfoot was the one seen in the Patterson-Gimlin footage, that of a zaftig (indeed, quite zaftik) female Bigfoot walking along a sandbar in the forest.
From 1987 through today, while the P-G Bigfoot “Patty” may still be there in the background as an icon, the “Bigfoot” most people have deeply embedded in their psyche is the Academy-Awarding winning creation of makeup artist Rick Baker ~ a giant male Bigfoot named “Harry.”
Harry and the Hendersons (1987), an American film directed and produced by William Dear, was revealingly first released as Bigfoot and the Hendersons in the United Kingdom (although they have converted back to the American title today). Throughout the world, “Harry” equals “Bigfoot.”
As I wrote in Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America:
“Field observations do not reinforce the reality of Baker’s Harry, but the forehead and white facial hair have become a prominent reflection of how the ‘modern’ Bigfoot should appear, at least, to the generation that was ten to sixteen in 1987.”
As I note in The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide, most Bigfoot are actually varied and diverse around the globe.
Nevertheless, the image of “Harry” continues to serve as the media model for what is “seen.”
Sasquatch became a friendly creature you could invite into your home, and the most popular Bigfoot film of all time, Harry and the Hendersons merely cemented this thought. Harry caused Bigfoot to lose a lot of their rural mystic.
Bigfoot would never be the same after the 1987 blockbuster. They had become creatures of the suburbs.
As mentioned in my analysis of Harry and the Hendersons in Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, I find the “expert” characters in Harry and the Hendersons to have been based on real people (see my suggestions below the videos).
I noted that (1) the French-Canadian pro-kill hunter “Jacques LaFleur” (played by David Suchet, famed for his Hercule Poirot roles) was clearly but loosely modeled on Swiss-born Canadian Saquatch hunter René Dahinden, and (2) the “no kill” Bigfoot expert “Dr. Wallace Wrightwood” played by Don Ameche appears to be a combo of three people: British Columbia Sasquatch chronicler John Green, the late anthropologist Dr. Grover Krantz, and former Bigfoot museum owner Cliff Crook. “Wrightwood’s” appearance and movie-shown publications mirror Green’s, his academic status was similar to Krantz’s, and the museum and its contents reflected Crook’s, who actually supplied props and the museum idea to the filmmakers. (BTW, Wikipedia incorrectly leaves out Crook and has it that I think Irish Bigfooter Peter Byrne is part of the “Wrightwood” character, which I do not consider to be a fact at all.)