Friday, October 3, 2008

October 3 - Grizzly [1976]

Grizzly (1976)
Director: William Girdler
Starring: Christopher George, Richard Jaeckel, Andrew Prine

After a couple of recent movies to kick off this marathon, we move into the 1970s for tonight's viewing.

Grizzly is a movie I've seen a few scenes from. Years ago I hired it out on VHS and put it on in the background of a Halloween party, but only saw a handful of scenes before the cloud of drunkenness took over. Now I own it on DVD, so it's time to finally watch this "classic" from start to finish.

How to sum up Grizzly? Well, it's essentially a Jaws rip-off, with a big ass bear taking the place of the shark. This movie came out a year after Spielberg's classic nature-run-amok flick, and tries to copy its success. Does it succeed? Well, no. Director William Girdler (who helmed other horror shlockers like Day of the Animals and Asylum of Satan before kicking the bucket at the ripe old age of 41) is no Spielberg. Ironically, Girdler died in a copter crash, and a helicopter features prominently in Grizzly.

The plot has a 18-foot, 3000-pound Grizzly running wild in a packed national park, gobbling up campers and hunters like a fat guy with a plate of cocktail sausages. Girdler tries his best to keep Evil Yogi off-screen for most of the movie, using point of view shots and the odd flash of a trained bear. But when he does show the bear in full... well, it looks a trained bear. Not very scary. Neither is the music, which sounds like it was lifted out of an episode of Wide World of Disney.

The kills are pretty pathetic, with not-very-convincing blood and guts. The acting isn't terrible... well, except for the girl in the opening kill sequence who sees her friend get chomped up by Big Bad Booboo and shows about as much emotion as if she'd just stepped in dog crap. The leads are adequate, Christopher George doing a good job as the park ranger who cares (sadly he doesn't tell off any bears for stealing pic-a-nic baskets).

This isn't a good movie, and it's not quite cheesy enough to get to so-bad-it's-good level. But there is some unintentional humour to be found. Be amazed by the 18-foot-tall, 3000-pound grizzly bear who can sneak up on people in the woods without making a sound! He's Ninja Bear!

William Girdler set out to make Jaws-in-the-Forest. He ended up making the cinematic equivalent of what a bear leaves in the forest after gorging on berries and wayward squirrels. Don't try to watch this late at night either, or you could end up trying to fight the sweet, sweet embrace of sleepytime. Not fun.

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