Harry and the Hendersons, OR A Man Comes to Terms with His Toxic Masculinity by Adding a Cryptid to His Family, OR What If We Were the Monsters All Along? We have some very existential thoughts about an 80’s bigfoot romp, but really, would it be a Spirits episode if we didn’t?
This week, Amanda recommends All My Relations.
Content Warning: This episode contains conversations about guns, hunting, fad diets, and tense parental relationships.
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Amanda: Welcome to Spirit's Podcast. A boozy dive into mythology, legends, and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.
Julia: I'm Julia.
Amanda: This is episode 131. Myth Movie Night, Harry and the Hendersons.
Julia: Yeah. We got a good 80s flashback here. None of us were born in the 80s, but that's fine.
Amanda: Eric was.
Julia: Oh, that's true. Schneider was. I was really excited to actually do this movie because we've done a lot of like less light-hearted ones as of late and I think this one has a really good message to it, which is shocking for an 80s film.
Amanda: There was a lot of really unexpected like loveliness and lightheartedness, which I really liked and, of course, the Sasquatch so we do get into some Bigfoot, Sasquatch lore here and it's really, really fun.
Julia: Yeah. I really like this movie. I think it's probably one of my favorite Bigfoot movies, which is not saying a lot. The genre isn't that big.
Amanda: You know Julia who I would want to text the moment I saw Bigfoot for the first time?
Julia: I think it would be our new patrons.
Amanda: It's sure would be. We have two Emily's S. Emily S. and Emily S. I'm going to call you Emily's S. Associates Anonymous. Henry, fittingly enough, Frost, Michelle, Melian, and David.
Julia: We would also be so excited to go camping in the Pacific Northwest with our supporting producer at level patrons. That's Philip, Eeyore, Christie, Mercedes, Samantha, Danica and Marissa, Sammy, Josie, Neil, Jessica, and Phil Fresh.
Amanda: Of course, our legend level patrons, Cody, Mr. Falk, Talia, Haley, James, Jess, Sarah, Sandra, Audra, and Jack Murray. You all are the best and we would give you big smelly Bigfoot hugs. Julia, tell us what you were drinking during this episode? Not smelly at all and very delicious.
Julia: Well, Amanda, when we were in Portland Oregon for the Listen Up Festival, we visited a very, very, very good distillery called Westward Whiskey and while I cannot drink brown liquor as it's been pointed out many times in this podcast, I did really enjoy their Casa Magdalena Rum, which is really, really, really good. I know you enjoy their whiskey quite a bit.
Amanda: I really do. Also, three of the six multitude hosts brought Westward Whiskey merch with us to Paddocks in Nashville because their logo is beautiful and Julia and Eric had dueling hats. I had a sweatshirt. It was wonderful.
Julia: We're always twins. It's great.
Amanda: That is our drink for the week. I would also love to recommend a new podcast that I am completely in love with. Our friend Ellie recommended this to me, and now I want to recommend it to all of you. It's called All My Relations. It is a podcast by two Native American women talking about all things Native American in the 21st Century. One of whom is Adrienne Keene who I followed on Twitter for a long, long time.
She is the creator and author of Native Appropriations, which is a blog that discusses representations of indigenous people in popular culture where she began by, you know that Urban Outfitters thing in 2010 where they were just like completely appropriating. Yeah. She basically partly responsible for the fact that all of us have a greater fluency and understanding of appropriation. I really love her work. This podcast is awesome.
They have a wonderful dynamic. They talk about all kinds of things. I am learning a ton and I want to recommend that everybody of any background, check out All My Relations.
Julia: Ooh, I'm definitely going to check that out. Thank you for the recommendation, Amanda.
Amanda: Thank our friend, Ellie. Always with the good recs.
Julia: Thanks, Ellie. If you haven't listened to our La Llorona episode, please do because Ellie crushed it.
Amanda: Absolutely. Speaking of crushing it, Julia, I am nervous but excited for our upcoming show on June 21st at the Bell House in Brooklyn New York.
Julia: Ooh, yeah. I am so excited. Three years ago when we started this podcast. I couldn't even possibly imagine performing at the Bell House, and now we're going to, and I get butterflies just thinking about it.
Amanda: It's extremely exciting. It was as if there was snow on the ground and suddenly it's June so this is coming up folks. It's on June 21st, less than three weeks away, and if you are in New York, if you're in New Jersey, if you're in Vermont, if you're in New Hampshire, come on down. You can buy tickets now at multitude.productions/live.
Julia: You will not regret it. All of our live shows so far have been an absolute delight. I'm saying that as someone who watched them from backstage.
Amanda: Yeah. Genuinely, I mean, if you have been looking for an excuse to come to New York to visit Twenty Sided Store to … I don't know, buy things at outlet stores on your way to the city.
Julia: Go see Katie's town. I don't know.
Amanda: Go see Hades' town, who knows, go see that's sexy Oklahoma. It's Oklahoma but sexier.
Julia: It is. At the very least [crosstalk 00:04:23]
Amanda: Apparently, we're seeing it in July. In any case, this is the time to do it. This is your moment. Grab a friend, grab your mom, we love mom, mom's love us and come on down to the Bell House.
Julia: We love moms, moms love us, Spirits Podcast.
Amanda: Multitude.productions/live. Now, without further ado, enjoy Spirits Podcast episode 131, Myth Movie Night, Harry and the Hendersons.
Julia: Amanda, we're back with another movie night. Hey, what's up?
Amanda: Yeah. Hello. It's me. You told me to watch Harry and the Hendersons on Netflix.
Julia: Yes, I did.
Amanda: I said, "Oh, cool. Is that a movie about a band?" Because that's what it sounded like.
Julia: It does kind of sound like Harry and the Potters. I got you.
Amanda: That's true. That's true. But, Julia, I didn't look anything up about the movie because I didn’t want to spoil myself, but is this like a 70s relic? When was this put out?
Amanda: Ooh. See? I just, I don't know. I guess I have no good thoughts on like 70s versus 80s. People have just like feathered hair, I'm just like 70s I guess.
Julia: Yeah. No. I think I wrote down one of my first notes of this movie was, "Wow. I'm so glad I didn't get raised in the 80s so I didn't have to go through this family field trip nonsense."
Amanda: Yeah. There is a lot of driving without seatbelts, a lot of children just touching guns all the time and very funny references to, I guess a Seattle culture of the late 80s where people were like into health food, and is that a character trait?
Julia: Yeah. That was weird. I think that was like the 80s diet craze, which is harmful and we shouldn't like put ourselves through that shit, but we'll talk about it when we got there.
Amanda: Truthful but you know what did remind me of my upbringing, Julia, are classic family trips that end in yelling-
Julia: Yeah. Always.
Amanda: … which definitely is what's happening here.
Julia: Yeah. My parents didn't do this kind of trips probably because there was only one of me so they didn't feel like they needed to keep me entertained like that.
Amanda: That's true. Yeah. They were like Julie can entertain herself. She has a lot of books and we can go do our own adult things, which sounds fun.
Amanda: But, in this case, we have John Lithgow, who really wants his children, especially his son, I think, to experience the great outdoors and his wife is like, "No."
Julia: Yeah. There is so much toxic masculinity at the beginning of this film. It is ridiculously strong, toxic, masculinity.
Amanda: But they do address it by the end, which I thought was really nice.
Julia: Yes. I wrote down, I said, "Harry and the Hendersons or a man comes to terms with his toxic masculinity by adding a cryptid to his family."
Amanda: I said, "What if we are the monsters all along?"
Julia: Which is true. Oh, god. Okay. We'll get into this. Why don't we break down the plot starting at the beginning and get into the nitty-gritty later on?
Amanda: Take me through.
Julia: All right, so we open with something wandering through the forest as a father and son talk about the survival of the fittest and hunting, and then immediately cut to John Lithgow and his small child, Ernie, who have killed a rabbit, and they are determined to cook said rabbit, even though the mother reminds her husband, George, John Lithgow, that they were only supposed to be staying till lunch, and then heading home.
Amanda: If you told me that this movie was made five years ago, I would have been like, "Yeah, John Lithgow looks great." Like that man has sort of not aged. Like I know when he do side by side, but he looks so much like his future self. That it really threw me for a loop there.
Julia: I feel like we only know John Lithgow as older John Lithgow. Like we were raised on older John Lithgow so he looks about the same to us.
Amanda: This is true. This is true, but I really actually liked that opening shot that you mentioned where it felt like it was like a point-of-view camera for an animal as it tracked its way through the forest, and my interpretation was that the point of view belongs to Ernie and George.
Amanda: Like it sort of does it reveal like, "Oh, yeah. No, it's a man and his kid." Which sets up this motif that who is the hunter, who is the hunted? Like who is the animal here? Who is acting in the way that we would think is like wild and undisciplined? This was a fun motif for me to track throughout the movie.
Julia: Yeah. This movie makes a lot of really strong arguments for conservation and like ecological conservation particularly. I kind of love that. It's definitely not what you think it is going into it, which is a family comedy about Bigfoot.
Amanda: Yes, and to Nancy's point, the family ends up packing up and driving out, not a single seat belt to be found as I said earlier, and George is driving dangerously in several ways like distracted driving, taking the curves a lot, like goes over a sort of bump and doesn't really slow down, and my wrote here, a hypothesis which is nothing would happen in this movie if George listened to his wife. Your thoughts.
Julia: Which is absolutely true, 100%. Like any 80s movie, if they just listened to the wife none of the shenanigans would happen.
Amanda: But indeed, they don't, and George ends up hitting something in the road.
Julia: He's blinded by the Sun even though his wife tells him to put on sunglasses.
Amanda: She tells him like three really good suggestions to make his driving less unsafe and he follows none of them leading to him discovering Sasquatch.
Julia: She does have a great line though when they hit said Bigfoot, where she goes, "Could it be a gorilla?" His response is, "I don't think they get that big around here."
Amanda: Oh, very good.
Julia: Which is very good.
Amanda: There is some good writing in here I will say.
Julia: Yes. There's some good comedy, good goofs. Only some dirty humor. It's not bad.
Amanda: There's a lot sort of farcical stuff too. I found myself very amused like there wasn't a lot of plot to catch, there was sort of a pretty straightforward arc to the story, but there is some funny and kind of suspenseful moments as George like goes over, has his gun, and he goes to the body, tried to figured out what this is, and they realized that it's a Yeti.
Julia: Yeah. It's Bigfoot. The son makes the observation when he sees the hand of said Bigfoot, and he goes, "Do you think it's Bigfoot?" George is overwhelmed by the possibility of having discovered a Bigfoot and potentially killing Bigfoot, and now can sell the body to science or a museum or something like that.
Amanda: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julia: Yeah. He even acknowledges that this is a major discovery, and he suggests that they bring the body back home with them. Honestly, the way that he is able to tie the body up and leverage it onto the roof of the car is very impressive and very serial killer-y and concerning.
Amanda: Yeah, and he happens to have a tarp too, which is very good thinking, but unfortunately, the Yeti does not stay dead. They thought he was dead, but, in fact, he is not, because he begins to wake up. Then, things go awry.
Julia: Yes. He wakes up, they slam the brakes on the car because they've already started heading home, and they hit him once again. This time George is positive that the Bigfoot is dead, and so they continue home, still covered with the tarp and they pull into the driveway and you can see the feet hanging out underneath the tarp, and it's a very funny shot. They return to their home in Seattle.
Amanda: Yeah. Then, we cut to the sort of B plot of this movie, which is a very hilariously intense tracker on their trails. Sees the broken stick, sees the footprints, finds a license plate that fell off of their car, which bad idea. I see this in movies all the time, like the more conspicuous your car looks, the more likely a cop is going to stop you.
Julia: Yeah. That's true.
Amanda: So don't look like you're trying to transport a body home.
Julia: Oh, god. We get the impression later on that George and his family are big hunters as they have to hide a bunch of their taxidermy later, but even then I think you're very conspicuous, feet sticking out, even if it was a deer. It's clearly not a deer in this situation. It looks very much like a humanoid body.
Amanda: Yeah. It sure does and the tracker is clearly on the scent literally and metaphorically and is going to end up meeting up with them back home where … Did they put Harry, the Bigfoot, in the garage? Is that where he ended up?
Julia: Yes. They keep the body on the top of the car, and then parked the car in the garage.
Amanda: Got you. At some point during the night, George realizes that Harry is no longer on top of the car, and so begins a sort of nighttime farce where Harry, the Bigfoot, is walking around. He seems very menacing to the family, but we see slowly that he is just like hungry and wants to chill and is confused obviously and a little bit lost.
Nancy, I thought has a very smart moment where she tries to distract him with Glade, like the air freshener.
Julia: Because he smells terrible.
Amanda: But my feeling … Yeah. Yeah. Right. She was like missed him and he sort of like walks toward the nice smell, but I thought like wouldn't that strike him as extremely chemical smell? Like if you were out in the woods, wouldn't smelling like compressed air and freshener be like, "Uh, I don't know."
Julia: Well, I think it's kind of like if you've never smelled something before and you sniff it, and you're like, "What is that?"
Amanda: That's true. That's true.
Julia: I feel like that was more the impression that I was getting personally.
Amanda: He ends up really liking flowers where he tries to eat them including the daughter's corsage, which-
Julia: It's so funny.
Amanda: Oh, my god. Such, such writing here. Such choices. She's like, "I was going to keep my 15th birthday corsage forever."
Julia: I've had it in the fridge for six months.
Amanda: I don't know. My family fridge growing up, you couldn't keep much in there that didn't have to be in there. We hardly had room for like two bottles of ketchup when the ketchup was almost out.
Julia: That's true. I feel that he also eats several plants, which really upsets Nancy because she keeps avid houseplants, and I appreciate that.
Amanda: I was extremely worried about the state of their home because he is like moving like furniture out of the way, and then it breaks. He's like hitting door sills and punching holes in the walls and I quickly realized, "Oh, no. This is just going to happen." Like the house is just a casualty and we don't have to worry that much about the damage because it is going to be a damaged house at the end of this.
Julia: Yeah. It's like introducing a cat to an apartment for the first time, I imagine. I've never done that before, but I feel like, oh, yeah, just a lot of scratching of furniture and things go awry and get knocked off shelves and whatnot, but on a much bigger scale.
Amanda: Absolutely, but luckily the family, George specifically realized that he is conscious and that he has consciousness, he knows what's going on. They can communicate with him, and really touchingly actually Harry has a sort of mink stole that he gets from Nancy's closet upstairs, and recognizes it as one of his own and wants to go outside and bury it, which we see happen a couple other times as he comes back to the house and tries to bury the taxidermy and the fur, but I just thought that was really moving and it's a really nice moment where the family for the first time sort of confronts how their behavior looks to a creature that isn't one of them.
Julia: Yeah. He shows compassion for animals that are, I guess like him, at that point, when they realized what the pattern is that it keeps going in and out of the house and starting to bury things, George hides all of the taxidermy because there's a lot of taxidermy in this house and hides them in the hall closet, which becomes important later.
Amanda: Exactly. Meanwhile, the Bigfoot hunter whose maybe will learn later is Lafleur.
Julia: Jacques Lafleur.
Amanda: Meets with was some kind of Bigfoot dealer, what I called a Bigfoot dealer.
Julia: [crosstalk 00:15:06] the doctor for it.
Amanda: Oh, yeah. Why is he the doctor?
Julia: Because he's like a professor or whatever. He calls him doc at one point [crosstalk 00:15:14]
Amanda: Oh, right. Yeah.
Julia: He's a professor of something. Something cryptid, zoology related.
Julia: Yeah, probably.
Amanda: Yeah. This is Wrightwood, who George will later read, and then go and meet.
Julia: George also attempts to call the police to report that there is a Bigfoot in his house, which of course they do not believe because you're living in the Pacific Northwest. I'm sure they get a lot of prank Bigfoot calls.
Amanda: Yeah, and in the morning, I wrote a very funny lady, but I later find her a little less funny, tries to say hello and the family is sort of keep Harry away from the windows. Again, very like boing boing, very farcical here.
Julia: Oh, yeah. She's returning their dog that she was dog sitting while they were on their vacation out into the woods.
Amanda: Yeah, and comes over to ask about some sorts of diet foods and I was just like [crosstalk 00:16:04]
Julia: Yeah. She asked if they had this brewer's yeast, and I was like, "Is that just something in the house that one keeps?"
Amanda: Yes, so that's nutritional yeast, which is like a vegan cheesy substitute. You can put it on like cauliflower and macaroni and stuff. I guess now they're just like a lot of vegetarians in Seattle is that the stereotype?
Julia: I think the stereotype is just she has this ridiculous fad diet that she's going on to try and lose some weight or what-have-you, and I think she's called it an energy diet so she'll have more energy.
Amanda: Fair. Meanwhile, Ernie and Harry are bonding over TV and sugar, which is extremely funny as Harry watches some old TV show with like a monkey and he sort of recognizes somebody there.
Julia: Oh, I will also point out that he has this kind of confrontation when the dog is brought into the house because, again, he kind of looks at the family accusatory being like, "Why are you keeping this creature hostage?" But instead, they're like, "No. No. It's like a pet." They show him that they treat the dog well and petting him and he starts doing that to the family.
Amanda: Absolutely, and George then sort of starts this dialogue with Ernie and with him where he's realizing that he has to, like they have to take Harry back. They did something wrong in taking him out of his environment. Ernie is very sad because he's bonding with Harry, and they realized, "Okay, yeah. We have to do this."
Julia: They decided that they are returning Harry back to the wilderness and so tried to bribe him to get into the car that they hit him with twice at this point. Try to bribe him to get back into the car using hamburgers, which Harry is not about because he does not eat meat. He only eats fish and vegetables and they're like, "Oh, shit."
Julia: Yes. They hand him a bunch of filet-o-fishes basically and get him to get into the car, which very much upset Ernie the child who runs inside and they tell him, "Oh, well, this is the way it is. This is how it has to go." Meanwhile, Harry seeing this and seeing that the child is upset escapes.
Amanda: Yes. They are understandably very concerned, and then to hear that Harry has been seen in a nearby neighborhood, which the Bounty Hunter also hears because he realizes, I guess he tracks through the license plate where the Hendersons live and shows up very creepily. What?
Julia: He just goes to the DMV and they gave him the address for the person in the license and they charged him $10 and that's it.
Amanda: No information security whatsoever.
Amanda: That all-
Julia: 80s, what are you doing?
Amanda: … and then he … I thought actually very smartly. I mean, clearly he's practiced at what he does, but he goes to the Henderson home, and then tries to make Mrs. Henderson tell him about the roadkill saying that he's from the Forestry Service. There's been a roadkill incident. They want to make sure that the creature is like not in pain, but luckily she won't play ball.
Julia: Yes. Nancy has a lot of sense as we established at the beginning of this film even though they make her seem like a ditz, she is not. She knows better.
Amanda: Yeah. He also visits then the gun shop where Mr. Henderson, George, apparently works. I was like, "Oh, that makes sense." But also why is he in a gun shop? Like it seemed very discordant based on the character that we knew. He's wearing a suit and stuff, but very soon afterward we realized it is a family business and George works for his dad who owns the gun shop.
Julia: Yes, and if we think that George is toxic masculinity at its finest, actually, his father is.
Amanda: Yeah, but, again, George gets there so I feel some love for him in this podcast today.
Julia: Lafleur comes to the gun shop as you said and as he is leaving, he buys very big ammo apparently like-
Amanda: Oh, my god, terrifying.
Julia: … stuff that you would use to take down like-
Amanda: Like 0.4 or something.
Julia: Yeah. Something ridiculous like that. When talking to his father, his father recognizes Lafleur and identifies him as a wild game hunter who used to take down giant bears and stuff like that. We find out that his name is Jacques Lafleur which is a great French-Canadian name. I'm in love with it, and concerned about the fact that this man might be hunting down said Bigfoot, aka Harry. George, like a good Spirits listener heads too library to find out more about Bigfoot.
Amanda: He sure does, and the librarian there has the wonderful line of pointing him toward "fantasy, folklore, myths, and legends" and I put my arms up like a football victory.
Julia: It's very good. Also the children's section, she recommends which-
Amanda: Yeah. Which fair. I understand. I understand.
Julia: The family is actually very upset about all of the literature that they read because it keeps depicting Bigfoot as an evil monster, except for one document that George recognizes Lafleur from and so does Nancy.
Amanda: Yeah. There's just some drawing of Lafleur's face in this book about like Bigfoot hunting, and Nancy's like, "Oh, yeah. That guy that came here." Harry is like, "This guy came to my store." They put two and two together, which is wonderful. I hate when in a movie like there's like a simple misunderstanding that if corrected would solve all the problems aka plot, which makes it very difficult to me to enjoy many movies and films and things and TV shows.
But, anyway, so George decides to go on a little road trip to a Bigfoot hunting store where he hears … I guess he looks up, Julia, that Wrightwood used to work there. The guy whose paper he read.
Julia: Yes. He tracks down because technically the Bigfoot store is also the Institute for North American Anthropology or whatever.
Amanda: That's the one. Sounds like a live show venue.
Julia: Yeah. I'd go there. There actually is like a Bigfoot museum-
Amanda: I love it.
Julia: … that is very cool and I'd like to go to at some point.
Amanda: Ooh, I like it. Well, here in this institute/gift shop/museum, the clerk on duty says that Sasquatch is a "primitive pre-man," and that Wrightwood used to work there but now is gone and mostly retired and it's not really possible to get in touch with him. George though doesn't really give up and he writes a note saying that he has evidence that will … What was the note exactly? Like prevent the destruction of the big fella?
Julia: Yeah. Basically that.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah, and it's extremely sweet and Grandpa-y.
Julia: Just like John Lithgow is in everything.
Amanda: John Lithgow, bless.
Julia: At the same time that John Lithgow is doing all these things, we keep cutting back to Harry who is in the Seattle suburbs basically who he [crosstalk 00:22:13]-
Amanda: Oh, poor thing. I felt so bad.
Julia: There's a great shot where he's overlooking the highway. He can see Mount Rainier in the background and he wants to cross it so bad, but he can't because the traffic is too heavy. He goes about and wanders more suburbs and raids more houses.
Amanda: Back at work, George's dad asks him to draw a big scary Bigfoot for their window display. I guess with all the sightings happening people want to load up on guns and ammo and stuff and George is like, "Okay [inaudible 00:22:39] I'll draw something." But it's not really scary so he goes home and he's working in the basement trying to draw and he says to his wife, which I give him a lot of credit for being this sort of emotionally in touch, that this is like the one time that his dad is encouraging him to paint, but he's upset that he's being called to like support the stereotype.
Amanda: Also presumably to do it in service of like making money and not as art.
Julia: Also violence towards the Bigfoot that they've come to know and love.
Amanda: Right. He tries a couple different scary drawings, crumples them up, throw them away, and ends up with a really nice drawing of Harry.
Julia: Yes, which he then takes to the store and his father is very upset about it because it's not what he asked for whatsoever.
Amanda: Yeah, and he ends up replacing it with a scary drawing which really incenses George and he ends up quitting, which sounds like a good move for his life. Good for George. We're really proud of him.
Julia: With that, as George is quitting someone informs him that they just had a Bigfoot sighting in their neighborhood, and so he goes to investigate the sighting and there are police there, there are news people.
Julia: Reporters who are interviewing this man who apparently was attacked on his bicycle by Harry and George confronts the man. Basically, tells him, "You didn't get attacked. You probably fell off your bike when you saw him and you're scared and you're lying to everyone." Which the man cryingly confirms, "Yes, that's what happened."
All of the reporters turned to George and try to figure out, "What's going on with him? How do you know this information? What's going on? Do you know Bigfoot? What's up?"
Amanda: George is like, "Ah, no." Then, runs away and continues to kind of chase these sightings around the city, as do Lafleur, the hunters. Until eventually, he runs into Harry in a junkyard and there are some hijinks actually really interesting … Is it a junkyard? it's kind of like a metal shop yard.
Julia: At one point they're in downtown Seattle, Harry sees George on the TV and attacks the window trying to get to the TVs, but is confused because every time he pulls it away it unplugs.
Amanda: I know.
Julia: That's when the police show up and Harry, I think escapes down an alleyway-
Amanda: An alley.
Julia: … or something to that effect and winds up in a dumpster.
Amanda: Crumpled up cars and figured that it was a junkyard. But, yeah, I think you're right [crosstalk 00:24:50]
Julia: It might have just been Seattle babies.
Amanda: That's true. That's true. There are definitely hijinks including George trying to drive like a big dump truck with Harry in the back and it's very high stakes. Like Lafleur is in there, they could definitely have killed each other.
Julia: Yeah. Lafleur has a gun. He almost shoots Harry several times. It's very bad. Luckily, George is so terrible driving this truck that the dumpster that they're in goes flying off of the garbage truck and Lafleur is arrested by the police while Harry and George make their escape.
Amanda: Yes. Luckily, he gets Harry home, and now there's a little montage time where Harry gets a rinse in the pool, they blow-dry him. He's sitting in a chair enjoying the Adams Family and it's really very wholesome and adorable.
Julia: It's very sweet and also I think at this point in the movie, I was really admiring the amount of like puppetry that goes on with Harry's face because it's really, really impressive.
Amanda: Yeah. Tell me about it. How did they shoot this?
Julia: Amanda the person who did these special effects in the puppetry for Harry in this film is actually the same person who did An American Werewolf in London.
Amanda: I was just going to bring that up because the previous chase scene really reminded me of the end of American Werewolf in London.
Julia: Yeah. The puppetry is really fantastic. It took four people to do the puppetry for Harry in like all of the scenes.
Julia: The man actually who did the movement for Harry like was in the suit the whole time is actually the same man who played the Predator in the Predator series.
Amanda: Oh, wow. I mean, it really is well done. Yeah. Harry is definitely animalistic while having real expression and real feeling, and you can kind of see his character arc change from confused and sort of intimidating to member of the family. That's definitely still not human but is human like.
Julia: He does a very good sheepish expression that they use many times on the film and every time you do, I'm just like, "Oh, no, so sweet. What a babe?"
Amanda: So sweet. Well, Julia, I'm riveted and I already know what happens, but let's grab a quick refill before we continue. Jules, we've just come back from Paddocks in Nashville, which was super, super fun. It was also really nice to have all six hosts of Multitude in the same room which we are not always. One morning the last day of the con, we all came downstairs to realize that everybody had worn of loud printed shirt, several of which were from Stitch Fix.
Now, I am used to being the person in the room with the loudest print of shirt, but Shoobs and Silver, and Schneider and Brandon and you gave me a run for my money. If you want to make sure that you are sharply dressed at your next con, at your next meeting with your podcast team, at the Bell House when you come and see us, you got to sign up for Stitch Fix. It's an online personal styling service that finds and delivers clothes, shoes, accessories to fit your body and your budget and also your lifestyle.
Julia: Yeah. You take a quick style quiz, and then an expert personal stylist will send you hand-picked items in a box that fit your style and your preferences. They have men's, they have women's, they have kids. It's all there. That's all they have to do and there's no subscription required so you can pick either automatic shipments or just get ones when you're ready for them. Shipping, exchanges, and returns are always free plus the $20 styling fee is automatically applied towards anything that you keep from the box. So, if you decide to keep one shirt, you're not paying that extra $20 because you kept the shirt.
Amanda: Exactly, and you can even get 25% off when you keep all of the items they send you in your box when you go to stitchfix.com/spirits and place your order.
Julia: Yeah. That stitchfix.com/spirits.
Amanda: Jules, we are also sponsored this week by Skillshare. The online learning community where you can learn and teach just about anything just like we do. At skillshare.com/spirits2, you can get two months of Skillshare premium for free. That means that you have access to all of the classes that they have to offer, not just the ones that are available for free, and this month, I am so excited to be enrolling in the workshop hand lettering for beginners.
This is one of those skills that I just think is complete wizardry when you walk past a chalkboard or a mural or a shop window and it's like this beautiful like artwork of people writing signs and if I could do that for myself, if I could do that in the Multitude office, man, I would feel like a complete and utter like Rembrandt.
Julia: Ooh, can you apply those new skills for writing out things for my wedding?
Amanda: Ooh, I can completely, maybe think about committing to writing place cards for your wedding with my new skills learned on Skillshare in the hand lettering for beginners workshop. Again, that's skillshare.com/spirits2, with the number two to get two months of Skillshare premium for free.
Julia: Yeah. Again, that is skillshare.com/spirits2, you get two free months of Skillshare. Amanda, let's talk about boobs real quick.
Amanda: I love boobs.
Julia: Me too. I got them. They're nice. I like it, but sometimes they're uncomfortable because I haven't gotten my bra size since ninth grade.
Amanda: Yeah. Let's talk about the fact that it's summertime and I genuinely, I just cannot buy strapless things or like spaghetti strap things because I have yet to find a strapless bra that doesn't make me want to die after about 10 minutes.
Julia: Ooh, yeah. I feel that. Well, luckily, Amanda, there's ThirdLove.
Julia: ThirdLove is a bra company that is on a mission to find the perfect bra for everyone. They not only have 78 different sizes, they also have half cups which I've always been like kind of, "Oh, well, I want to put this bra on but it's a little too tight or I want to put this one on but then like the cups or sagging." Found out, I was a half cup this whole time.
Julia: I didn't know that.
Amanda: No way. I found out that my band size was two sizes wrong.
Amanda: Yeah, and the quiz is really nice too because it asks you to talk about your existing bra fit. Like it's not just you measure yourself and tell them, it's like, "Oh, do this straps sag? Is the band too tight? How does it fit against your chest? Like is it flush with your chest?" That's the kind of stuff where if you go in person to get fit they can help you with, but online it's really difficult. This is actually the only online quiz that has worked for me and given me a really good size.
Julia: Yeah, and the best part is it takes 60 seconds. It actually like takes into account things that I didn't realize mattered like did you know that the shape of your breast decides like what is a good fit for you?
Amanda: I didn't know that. I didn't know that influenced it.
Julia: The best part too in my opinion is that ThirdLove has a 100% fit guarantee. You have 60 days to wear the bra that you get, you can wash it, you could put it to the test, and if you don't like it, you can return it and ThirdLove will wash it and donate it to someone in need, which is really, really nice and like genuinely great.
Also, I had to return mine because I thought I wasn't a half-cup, but apparently, I was and the process was really simple and really easy.
Amanda: Yeah. Shipping is free. Returns are free, which is always, always awesome. You can go to thirdlove.com/spirits to get your perfect fitting bra and 15% off that first purchase.
Julia: Yeah. Go to thirdlove.com/spirits, you get that perfect fitting bra and 15% off your first purchase.
Amanda: Please, let us know how you like your ThirdLove bras. We love ours and we'd love to hear how it goes.
Julia: Yes. All of our bra wearing listeners.
Amanda: All right. Now, let's get back to the show.
Julia: Jacques has been taken to prison where he belongs. The rat bastard. At this point, the professor calls George to talk to him about Bigfoot and they invite him over to the house for dinner, which seems concerning but also, okay, yeah. I mean, we got to move the plot along somehow.
Amanda: Yeah. Very predictably Wrightwood was the man in the gift shop. Wow.
Julia: Yes. He was. Whoa. It's not like we didn't know that because they had a scene earlier on in the film with Jacques and him talking about it, but all right. But they set him down for dinner, they say that they're making a roast when they sit down for dinner they're like, "Where's the roast?" They're like, "In a shallow grave in the backyard." Because Harry has once again taken a poor animal and buried it, giving it the proper burial it deserves.
Amanda: Yeah. Nancy that was a real standout line from Nancy. I really enjoyed that delivery.
Julia: Harry is kind of killing time until they're ready to introduce the professor to Harry. He's listening to music in one of the bedrooms upstairs and he actually discovers the art that George had done of him kind of looking evil and is really frustrated by it.
Amanda: Yeah. I was so sad.
Julia: Meanwhile the doctor is telling the story of how he started hunting Bigfoot and how he like came across him one day and the search kind of ruin his life, and so he's there to advise George to give it up because he doesn't want what happened to him to happen to George and his family and meanwhile everyone starts giggling because as he doesn't know it, Harry has approached them and is standing right behind him as he tells the story about Bigfoot isn't real.
Amanda: Yeah, and it's very moving. I was worried here that Wrightwood would react in a really extreme way and try to capture him or kill him or something, but Wrightwood doesn't really moved and excited to see him, which I totally understand as somebody who spent your life looking after something that you are now kind of resigned to the fact that you've thrown away that life, but instead Harry's right here and he's really excited.
He ends up bringing in a sleeping bag from his car for Harry to sleep on in the corner of the living room where he sort of has brought some tree branches and other things to make him feel at home.
Julia: He sleeps right next to him in the morning. You see Ernie, Harry, and the professor all sleeping next to each other because they've decided they're going to take Harry to a place where no one will disturb him and no one will find him so that he could live his best life. George has a great line about how people don't believe in wonder anymore so that by putting Harry somewhere where people won't poke and prod at him or disturb him or try to use him for science, they can save him and give him the life he deserves.
Amanda: Yeah. It is very touching indeed and kind of the thesis of spirits in a way, which I thought was incredibly sweet. Well, as soon as they decide on this plan, unfortunately, Lafleur finds them and chases them as they bring Harry back to the forest.
Julia: Yes. We do have a very cute moment before they take Harry away where he picks all of the neighbor's roses and gives them to the daughter, Sarah, to make up for the fact that he ate her corsage that first night. It's very sweet.
Amanda: It is super adorable. I love it so much.
Julia: Lafleur has discovered where they are, is trying to track Harry down. They escaped in the professor's car, which is an old beat-up car and he steals their family car after George sabotages his cool off-road truck that he had.
Amanda: It was a cool truck. I did want it.
Julia: The chase kind of ends because they are stuck in traffic heading towards Mount Rainier which is only kind of broken up when a police car goes by and everyone is very concerned that the police are after them, but instead the police officer is just heading to another call, but the car is all parked for him, so Harry hearing the siren mimics the sound so that the family can escape through the traffic and off they go to Mount Rainier.
They take Harry to Mount Rainier and they have this kind of heartfelt goodbye, which is made worse because Harry does not want to leave, and so George has to yell at him. He says, "Go. We don't want you here." He slaps him across the face-
Amanda: Oh, so sad.
Julia: … and Harry retreats into the wilderness, but not before Lafleur arrives and they realized that Lafleur can track Harry by his footprints.
Amanda: Big old feet. Big old feet, Julia. Big old feet. Big old feet.
Julia: The family devises a way of distracting Lafleur and sending him off the trail by strapping the like casts of Bigfoot that they had in the truck and making footprints all over so that Lafleur cannot track Harry down.
Amanda: It is so ingenious and it reminded me of during our discussions about Bigfoot how there is sometimes solitary, sometimes talk about families or pairs so Lafleur gets so excited in the idea that he's found like a whole family group of Bigfoot, right. But, in fact, no, it is the family.
Julia: Yes. Harry intercedes though when he realizes that George and Lafleur are going to run into each other as George is making these tracks, and so there is a bit of a fight. At one point, the dog runs in and attacks Lafleur and basically, Harry is able to subdue Lafleur and is holding him over by the family car.
Amanda: George is really upset like personally upset that Lafleur would go after Harry in this way, and sort of slams Lafleur's head against the car and seems like he's going to just keep doing that until Harry actually stops them and this is the moment Julia, we're like, "Who is the monster and who is the man?" Because Harry sort of like puts his hand behind Lafleur's head, holds George off, and weren't we the real monsters all along, am I right?
Julia: Shows compassion, which we-
Amanda: He sure does.
Julia: … have seen him have shadows of in the past, but this is the real moment where he seems to understand what is going on and intercedes into the situation.
Amanda: Has compassion like you said for someone who is threatening him or has threatened him in the past, which I think is the real … It's not just self-preservation, it's also really like thinking about what is this person's motivation and what is the right response?
Julia: Yeah. Jacques basically has a breakdown and Harry pets him basically like they do with the dog, and he sees the error of his ways and decides he's not going to kill Harry and that Harry should live free the way he's supposed to.
Amanda: Very, very sweet. They say another kind of proper goodbye.
Julia: Take a family photo. It's great.
Amanda: Oh, they do. It's very sweet, and as Harry finally walks off, Wrightwood and Lafleur sort of laugh and they're like, "Well, I guess that chapter's done. How about the Loch Ness monster, eh?"
Julia: As Harry is walking into the wilderness, all of a sudden these other big feet emerge and follow him in there.
Julia: Did you notice them before they turned around by the way?
Amanda: No. I did not.
Julia: Yes. That is actually that it's a great, great shot too because they're just standing there, and you're kind of looking at Harry like go into the wilderness followed by trees and all of a sudden they just turn around and they go in after him and it's like this really big moment. I've read an interview with the director of this film where he talks about, yeah, everyone was convinced like we were shooting this and they're like this is going to look ridiculous. They're just standing there, everyone's going to notice that they're there, and then they saw it on film and it was like this big awe-inspiring moment.
Amanda: Yeah, and it's really nice too because I was so worried that Harry was leaving this family bond, these relationships, but we also realized that he has a whole life and a whole social structure and family that we didn't get to see. He's not just giving something up, he had this interesting experience, and now he's going home.
Julia: Yeah. Let's kind of talk about a little bit, the Bigfoot experience and how accurate this movie is. One of the big things that stood out for me was the kind of calls that Harry was doing throughout the film, and then also being able to mimic the siren at the end of it. A big thing that Bigfoot researchers will talk about is the fact that Bigfoot has a very distinct call and it differs from region to region.
For example, the Yeti known as the Menk in Russia will do a whistling noise instead of what you would consider like a humanoid grunting or growling, which is-
Amanda: Oh, sure.
Julia: … what you would assume kind of a creature of that size would do.
Julia: Also, they've talked about how they kind of have like very strong vocalization, but they will mimic the sounds around them. A lot of Bigfoot hunters will argue that big feet can mimic sounds around them in order to kind of throw people off their trail, which is very, very cool.
Amanda: Makes sense.
Julia: I like that they kind of played with the vocalizations of Bigfoot in this film. It was very, very interesting.
Amanda: I liked too this idea of does Bigfoot sort of come out and get aggressive or are they just protecting themselves when threatened?
Amanda: Which we also spoke a little bit about like why are the sightings almost always like a sighting in a distance or a confrontation?
Julia: Right. Is it territorialness or are they shy creatures, et cetera?
Amanda: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julia: I think that also the experience of the Bigfoot hunter in this film is very distinct. If you haven't listened to the podcast Wild Thing, which is about a woman who discovers that her like distant relative is a big name in the Bigfoot searching community. She interviews a lot of people who have had Bigfoot experiences, who have dedicated their life to hunting Bigfoot, and I think very much the professor's character in this is a reflection of that obsession that can "ruin your life." It becomes like so consuming to you.
The podcast is a good reflection of that as well, so highly recommend checking out Wild Thing. It's very interesting. I think it does speak a lot to the experiences of people who dedicate their life and time to hunting for Bigfoot.
Amanda: I really love too this idea of Wrightwood as somebody who has like almost entrapped himself in like a castle or career of his own making. It was so kind of persuasive to me to see him knowing now who he was in the gift shop, being like, "No, hard to reach. Doesn't really do much these days." He wants some anonymity and especially, I don't know as our sort of position right now in our careers trying to find more people who want to hear us, who we can help, who we can be helped by, trying to just like increase our network and like meet more folks. This sort of vision of someone as just trying to sort of like close the Pandora's box that he's opened.
I think was a little bit tragic, but I'm glad to see that he had a fulfilling experience, being able to like make a friend, see the end to this journey, and sort of decide what's next for him.
Julia: Also, be one of only a couple of people who can confirm for real that Bigfoot existed when that was your life goal for so long. That's such a fulfilling moment there.
Amanda: Totally, and no Bigfoots how to die in the making of this adventure.
Julia: Thank, God. I'd love to talk a little bit more about the film's kind of ecological conservation message-
Julia: … because we talked a little bit about it at the beginning, but so much of it is about how we should be respecting nature and respecting the animals that we kind of take for granted in our life. Like one of the lines that Nancy does when Harry discovers the mink stole is she's like, "Well, I didn't kill it and my grandma didn't kill it. They were probably just raised on a farm, and killed by ranchers because they knew someone would buy it."
Like she realizes as she's saying it like how much of a fallacy her idea of just like, "Well, I didn't do it." But she's also participating in this culture that it like leads to the death of these animals.
Amanda: Yeah, and even to the sort of appeal to vegetarianism like I don't think it's like a militant vegan movie, but it does definitely encourage us to think about our relationship to animals. Like we are not without impact on the rest of the world. The human, animal is not like I guess this depends on your religion and your particular worldview, but like we are all related to each other in some way, and there is a lot that we have in common with other creatures.
They're not just like completely other from us and being able, regardless of like the ethical decision you choose to make with what you consume and how you consume it, and the sort of ethics of your own diet, just reminding I think ourselves and each other that all of our actions have consequences and that all of our choices are choices, even ones that we make because that's how we were raised.
Julia: Yeah, and absolutely. The family learns compassion for other creatures from Harry, so we see this family start with the murder of a rabbit on a hunting trip, and then we basically get led to a vegetarian dinner at the end of the film and learning that, well, Harry understands that all animals have value and should be treated as living creatures and the family learns that too. It's such a sharp contrast from how the Hendersons see Harry at the end to how Lafleur is seeing Harry.
Amanda: Yeah. I was really happy that George got to kind of reckon with his own upbringing and the legacy he's passing on to his kids when him and Nancy were talking as he was trying to draw the portrait of Harry. He was resentful that his dad never supported him and only ever gave him an opportunity to follow in his dad's footsteps and do kind of one version of what it is to be a man.
He was like, "Yeah. All I wanted was an art set. My dad just bought me a BB gun." Then, Nancy's like, "Oh, like you did for Ernie?" George was like, "Oh, shit." Like I am repeating the things that were done to me unthinkingly. I hope this is an opportunity for him to think a little bit more about encouraging both of his children as people and not just kind of following a mold that was set out for him.
Julia: Right. We see that with Ernie, absolutely. Where Ernie is a little demon child at the beginning of this film, but by the end of it, he's telling the dog, he's like, "You need to go be free." I'm showing the dog compassion because he shouldn't be here. He shouldn't be cooped up in our home when he deserves to be out in the wilderness or what have you.
It's really, really nice to see that kind of positive influence of parenthood on a child in a film during the 80s, especially one where it starts so heavily with toxic masculinity, and then everyone learns compassion by the end of it.
Amanda: Yeah, and the teenage daughter is very much a, I think stereotype of a teenage daughter, but she also gets to make contributions. She sort of warms up at the end of the movie. Nobody like penalizes her for acting out. They sort of like allow her to be herself and feel her feelings, trusting and knowing that they're going to like come together as a family at the end.
Julia: I just remembered one of the lines that she has at the beginning where they're worried that the neighbor is going to find out about them having Harry in the house, and she's like, "Well, once she knows, everyone in the neighborhood is going to know and I might as well drop out of school and live in a cave and marry a zookeeper." I'm just like those are some wild assumptions, but I really like that marry a zookeeper is on there. That's hilarious.
Amanda: I know. That's like the most de classe a person can get.
Julia: It's very good.
Amanda: Listen, I follow several zookeepers from the hit Animal Planet show, The Zoo on Instagram, and they are the bomb.
Julia: [crosstalk 00:47:23]. I know how much you love that show. It's very good.
Amanda: Thank you.
Julia: I'm trying to think if there's any other points I would like to make about Harry and the Hendersons. For the 80s, very good, very progressive, A plus.
Amanda: I know. The film was really entertaining. It had a nice movement to it, a nice plot arc. I walked away feeling good. I think I would definitely put it on again in the background when I'm like doing something and it just happens to be on TV and my bar for wanting to re-watch a movie is pretty high. I was pleasantly surprised by this, and thanks for bringing it to our Myth Movie Night.
Julia: It's my pleasure. Do you want to give the movie a rating?
Amanda: I think I will rate it four toes out of five.
Julia: I like that. Very big toes. Toes that kind of resemble mice at one point in the film.
Amanda: Yeah. Definitely true.
Julia: It's very good. All right. Thank you, listeners. We hope you enjoyed this Myth Movie Night. I'm glad you brought the popcorn.
Amanda: If you have any movies to suggest for a future Myth Movie Night, you can let us know. It's spiritspodcast.com. Just click that contact page and you can let us know your suggestions as well as any urban legends that you would like to share.
Julia: Heck, yeah. Give us those urban legends. Tell us about your Bigfoot experiences.
Amanda: I know. What would you do if you woke up with a Bigfoot in your garage?
Julia: Not scream. I'm not really a screamer kind of person. I would be very concerned. I would probably just kind of let it lie until it wandered away.
Amanda: I think I would probably call Jake, and then go back to sleep.
Julia: Yeah. That's fair. I would have Jake.
Amanda: Well, in this situation and any other, listeners, just remember, stay creepy, stay cool. Thanks again to our sponsors at stitchfix.com/spirits. You can get 25% off when you keep all of the items they send you in your box. Skillshare.com/spirits2, number two will get you two free months of Skillshare premium, and thirdlove.com/spirits gets you 15% off your first purchase.
Spirits was created by Amanda McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, and Eric Schneider with music by Kevin MacLeod and visual design by Allyson Wakeman.
Julia: Keep up with all things creepy and cool by following us at Spirits Podcast on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr. We also have all of our episode transcripts, guest appearances, and merch on our website as well as a form to send us your urban legends at spiritspodcast.com.
Amanda: Join our member community on Patreon. Patreon.com/spiritspodcast for all kinds of behind the scenes stuff. Just $1 gets you access to audio extras with so much more available to recipe cards, directors commentaries, exclusive merch, and real physical gifts.
Julia: We are a founding member of Multitude. A collective of independent audio professionals. If you like Spirits, you will love the other shows that live on our website at multitude.productions.
Amanda: Above all else, if you liked what you heard today, please share us with your friends. That is the very best way to help us keep on growing.
Julia: Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.