Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"He's gorier than an average bear!":Grizzly (1976)

Grizzly (1976)
starring: Christopher George, Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeck

When an 18-foot tall grizzly bear starts attacking and eating hikers at an American national park, Chief Ranger Michael Kelly is put into the case as he accounted that all bears were moved away from the park.

He suggest keeping all campers at the low lands, prohibiting anyone from hiking but this did very little to stop the attacks as the bear starts prowling the camp grounds and continues to make chow out of the campers. Thinking of a way to turn this situation into a media sensation, park supervisor Charlie Kittridge places a bounty on the animal's head and sets hundreds of amateur hunters to make sure the deed is done, only to discover that the animal is stronger and tougher than they could have imagined. With no other options, Kelly calls up Guide and Vietnam Vet Don Stober and Naturalist Arthur Scott to finish the menace before it makes mince meat out of them all.

If you're wondering why Grizzly kinda sounds like Jaws, this is because it is Jaws only with a bear, in the forest, and boasting a higher bodycount. Funny thing about this is that it rips off the Stephen Spielberg movie so much that the whole plot parallels Jaws' to every detail: Jaws kills a swimming teen in the opening, a Grizzly mauls two hikers; Jaws had its hero argue about closing the beach, we got a park ranger arguing to close the park. We got an initial attack in Jaws that triggered hundred of hunters to hunt down a shark for a bounty, we got one with a bear here. It's plot among plot that borrows (or copy) heavily from Jaws, but I surely don't mind as, among the other Jaws rip-off we have from the past, Grizzly is amazingly watchable.

While Jaws spends the first half a slasher film before becoming an ocean adventure, Grizzly somehow pitched the slasher formula to its fullest and gives us a backwoods horror like no other; a killer Grizzly bear may not be so original in this day and age (not with other titles like Grizzly Park existing out there) but none did this well on the killing department, most of which quite gruesome, some not so special in terms of gore effects but otherwise acceptable enough for a few cheap laughs. (Horse beheading anyone?)

And speaking of laughs, the hammy nature of the direction can also ensure an unintentional laugh or two, like the fact that a killer bear is smart enough to know that a cabin can be broken down to get the tasty screaming morsels inside, or the fact that our heroes is packing big heat (cough*Bazooka*cough) just to hunt down a wild animal.

Our cast are also quite good in a B-grade level; there's nothing about this film that says Oscar winner, but the likes of Christopher George, who would later appear in future horror and action classics such as Day of the Animal (1977), Graduation Day (1981) and Pieces (1982), somehow gave a great performance as a skilled park ranger troubled by his inexperience towards bear attacks that's reminiscent of our Jaws' Martin Brody.

Grizzly is not perfect, but its nowhere that a bad film either. Its a cheesy 70s horror treat, an backwoods adventure mixed with slasher sensibilities with a fairly decent attempt for a Killer Animal movie. Its too bad that this film never got the franchising it needed. A sequel was actually shot, but never released due to distribution problems and bad publicity due to leaked footages and negative reviews of said footages, which is a shame. I would really like to see an 18-foot killer Grizzly tear down and mangle concert goers in a forest...

1 female had her arms lopped off
1 female had her face clawed open, mauled to death
1 female mauled to death (mostly offscreen)
1 female bashed repeatedly on the temples against trees
1 bear cub eaten (mostly offscreen)
1 male crushed by a collapsing lookout tower
1 female bear-hugged to death
1 horse had its head clawed off
1 male found with his back clawed open
1 male bear-hugged to death
1 grizzly bear blown apart with bazooka (!)
total: 11

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