Where's the Beef?
Chris K. Wilson | Dallas, TX United States | 12/10/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I remember when I first saw "Grizzly" at the movie theater during the mid-1970s. I must be truthful. At the time, filled with a child's energy undoubtedly spawned by too much candy and coke, I thought it was a terrifically exciting action flick. I loved the thundering musical score by Robert O'Ragland, the dizzying camera angles during the helicopter sequences and the likeable camaraderie between leads Christopher George, Richard Jaeckel and Andrew Prine.When watching the film again as an adult, I was pleasantly surprised that many of my fond memories still held up. Granted, "Grizzly" is strictly a B-Movie imitation of the far superior "Jaws," complete with an inexperienced law enforcement official, an eccentric zoological expert, a salt-of-the-earth guide and a corrupt supervisor/executive. But there is a surprising energy to the proceedings as these hunters slowly close in on a prehistoric 18-foot grizzly dining on unsuspecting (and for the most part female) campers.The picturesque scenery (filmed at a state park in Georgia) adds to the energetic proceedings, camouflaging the film's conservative budget. But not even the tallest of pine trees can cover up a painfully awkward supporting cast (many of whom are the title character's appetizers), backyard special effects (a man in a bear suit) and the prolonged, violent deaths of two important cast members. Granted, "Jaws" was an extremely violent film, but the violence was always stylish. The corpses which begin popping up (and falling down) in "Grizzly," look as if they've been bathing in buckets of discount Karo syrup.What I like about "Grizzly" is the tremendously exciting final battle between the bear and the surviving members of the hunting party. Intense close-ups and quick editing truly create a suspenseful confrontation. We should probably thank director William Girdler (a schlock hack whose infamous credits include "Three on a Meathook" and the horrible "Day of the Animals"), in what is most likely the only good film he ever helmed. An added note must be made about the film's rather somber conclusion, where a survivor sadly inspects the chaos surrounding him. While "Grizzly" does not necessarily have a sad ending, there is general remorse shown by this character for the victims of the title beast. This haunting moment is actually an improvement over the rather lighthearted conclusion to "Jaws" the year before.The three leads are uniformly likeable, as Christopher George, Richard Jaeckel and Andrew Prine utilize their experienced personas to full effect. As a child watching these brooding and flawed heroes traipse through the forbidding woods hoping to somehow kill this indestructable beast, I remembered thinking..."They are so cool."The movie's premise is unbelievable, several scenes are laughably bad and the gratuitous violence is unpleasant to say the least. But even today, 30 years removed from the cramped mall theater, George, Jaeckel and Prine versus The Grizzly is still oddly...."cool."Somewhere, Jack Arnold is smiling."
The best part of the film is that Neal Adams did the cover.
M J Heilbron Jr. | Long Beach, CA United States | 07/06/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"You know how there are movies you remember from your youth as being absolutely awesome, but upon revisiting them as an adult, you wonder what sort of mind-altering, sugar-bomb, breakfast cereal you must have been on at the time?
I don't think I've had such a disparity in my opinions as I had with "Grizzly". "Grizzly" at one time was my second favorite film, after "Jaws" (which still remains right up there).
I haven't seen this film since I was a kid...and honestly I'm not sure if I saw it in a theater (shame on my parents... : ) or edited on bad weekend afternoon TV.
Regardless, I recall the thrills of the rampaging bear. I remember the three protagonists being similar to my Jaws family. I remember the horse.
So I gleefully plopped down in front of my TV, and spun up my new copy of my old fave, "Grizzly."
WOW is this a bad movie! Howlingly bad. Excruciating. Painful. Often unintentionally funny, and not in a good way.
In terms of "acting", Christopher George does his best to maintain some sort of rugged believability. Andrew Prine has a modicum of laconic naturalness. Richard Jaeckel, as the slightly-off naturalist, has, I think, one decent line.
Everything else, and I mean everything else, is flat-out awful. There is better acting to be found in any elementary school Christmas pageant seen across the country each winter.
The gore is not enough to satisfy the Fangoria set, yet the day-glo blood and brief shots of mangled limbs (and one mangled child) will surely turn off those with less-hardened sensibilities.
Even the score must have sounded dated the weekend after this film was originally released.
The only real pleasure in seeing this film now is mentally checking off the hysterical number of similarities to "Jaws". THAT'S kinda funny, and could be somehow converted into a pleasant drinking game amongst fans...
SPOILER ALERT...I'm giving away a little of the ending...
...especially when throughout the movie, this freakin' bear gets shot a few dozen times, without a scratch. There's a casual comment about a helicopter pilot being in Vietnam, and a brief scene of two people loading up the copter with guns and stuff.
So after this bear wreaks his havoc throughout the forest, the bear gets shot with a bazooka-like device, and explodes like nothing you have ever seen.
Seriously...the editing is comical, but it's basically...shoot! Then...HIROSHIMA! Then somebody somberly walking by a perfectly circular spot of fire about ten feet in diameter.
It's just goofy.
The most exciting part for me was recognizing the work of one of my old favorite comic book artists, Neal Adams. He did the cover artwork!
The DVD is actually a terrific set. Nice extras. The film itself will probably never look this good ever again. The period featurette still has the VHS dropouts, rolling bars and glitches there for all to see.
Fans will wax deliriously over this release, and justifiably so. But I warn you, if you haven't seen this movie in twenty years, you might want to preserve those memories just the way they are, and spare yourself the disappointment..."
Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Out Camping...
Daniel Kepley | Viola, DE USA | 06/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember watching GRIZZLY on television many years ago. I didn't watch much of it but a few scenes stuck out, such as the aerial photography of the forest and the climax. But after watching the DVD last night, I can tell you that GRIZZLY is one of the better JAWS-style, nature-run-amok films. Although the similarities to JAWS stick out like ol' Grizzly's claws, there's plenty going for it to make it stand out on its own, such as the three leading men (Christopher George, Andrew Prine, and Richard Jaeckel), the aforementioned aerial photography, Robert O. Ragland's musical score, and some very intense Grizzly attack sequences, especially the one on little Bobby! If a movie such as this invites comparisons to a bigger and more successful movie, it must have its own unique qualities to really stand out, and GRIZZLY does the job; it was the highest-grossing independent film of 1976 and is still remembered today.
Big up to Shriek Show for another top-of-the-line release of something other labels would not have even given a passing thought to. On this double-disc edition, there's a commentary, a vintage featurette (culled from VHS, no doubt), a screening of the film, new interviews, a trailer, radio spots, and a poster and photo gallery. I also recommend DAY OF THE ANIMALS, another nature-run-amok film from William Girdler, the late director who really knew how to work these kind of films."