Considering that William Girdler directed Abby – the blaxploitation version of The Exorcist that gave us a possessed Carol Speed telling victims “You know what, baby? You would just be out of sight if you had a couple more inches!” – and Christopher George starred in Pieces, the greatest slasher movie ever made, it’s gonna be hard for Grizzly to go wrong. The director and star team up for this mid-70s Jaws re-hash, which drains all the tension and innovation from the Spielberg movie and comes out with what could easily pass for an insanely hokey National Park Service instruction video.
Speaking of hokey, the opening music here is just totally inappropriate. I know Girdler was chasing Jaws all the way, hoping to duplicate that movie’s respected film score, but this one kind of sounds like the soundtrack rejected from Mary Poppins for being too upbeat. And in the most embarrassing import from across the pond this side of Posh Spice, I give you this credit:
Twelve minutes in, we get our first attack, and it’s WONDERFUL. The bear POV shots are classic, if only because we appear to be looking through the eyes of a drunk, 80-year-old asthmatic. Seriously, our Grizzly seems to be very unsteady on his feet, and judging from the sounds of his breathing, he’s way out of shape for a killer bear. Rather than try to describe the special effects extravaganza that is a William Girdler bear attack, let me just give you these snapshots of brilliance:
The hunt for the Grizzly is long and intense, as I’m sure any hunt for a 15-foot tall, 2,000-pound creature would be. Strangely, though it’s acknowledged that the bear only seems to go after beautiful young women, nobody comes up with the idea of using some hot female park ranger as bait and waiting the thing out. Instead, Christopher & co. seem to drive their jeeps around in circles for a good 45-minutes, which in turn led me to my fast-forward button for added viewing pleasure.
Finally, after a few lame chase scene, Grizzly returns in a big way, knocking down an entire forest service watchtower and killing one of Christopher’s favorite rangers in the process. Well, hell hath no fury like Christopher George when he’s making his pissed face:
Anyway, you know what’s coming: a one-on-one battle of the bears, starring Grizzly and Christopher George. Things come to a satisfying conclusion when Chris literally fires a cannonball at the bear and blows it up. I’m not kidding. The bear explodes in a giant fireball. The end.
So, obviously this is a great movie. Next to Abby, this one’s use of locations and real animals makes it look like Gone With The Wind, rating it a major triumph for Girdler. And, again, it’s hard to imagine a movie today brave enough to kill off a little kid – not to mention the fact that any giant-animal-killer movie made today would also feature a CGI-Grizzly disaster, rather than a creatively edited zoo animal, as is the case here. Therefore, Grizzly easily rates…