Directed by: William Girdler
Starring: Christopher George, Andrew Prine, Richard Jaeckel
Distributed: Columbia Pictures/Film Ventures International
I am now and forever grateful for West Coast music festivals. There are a few reasons: socially acceptable day time drinking/drug use, people’s general lack of pants, and good music. But the best thing from my own personal experience, has been that I’m FINALLY over my fear of North America’s last great land predators, the cougar and the grizzly. With the decibel system in place and the heavy, loud bass that pumps through the speakers all but one hour a day, there is no way in a million years that I’ll be in danger of tripping balls on the way to the drum and bass stage in a tutu and worry about encountering a huge carnivore. Nope, not me. But the fear of bears and camping came not from Bart The Bear in THE GREAT OUTDOORS, but from the 1976 film, GRIZZLY that was on afternoon television one hazy summer when I was in seventh grade. That afternoon, I was unable to tear myself away from the screen, and given we lived in an area surrounded by quite a lot of old cedar trees, and in North Vancouver black bears were regular visitors to people’s yard, this film scared the crap out of me. If someone told me that bears don’t generally get to be 15-feet tall, and the whole damn film was shot in Georgia, I *might* have not been the only kid in my class asking for bear mace for Christmas.
The plot goes thusly: A gigantic grizzly bear is terrorizing the National Park and eating campers left, right, and center. While at first just starting with two, the grizzly does well for Team Bear, and gets a fairly respectable body count going. While I counted at least several wholesale ripoffs from JAWS, I can’t help but still like this film. There is the epic attack on the lone female forest ranger who stops for a nude dip in a pond at the bottom of a water fall, and then gets eaten by the grizzly, lying in wait like some creeper. You can almost imagine the bear’s inner dialog at that point: “I WAS going to eat her, but if I wait here, she’ll just get out of those clothes herself . My ulcer can’t handle digesting khakis anymore…” And there is also the scene that is cinematic gold with the grizzly taking a horses head off with one swipe of its paw AND deciding to fight a helicopter. If one is willing to suspend a fair amount of disbelief, then this is a highly entertaining OG gem from the glory days of the sub-genre ‘big animals eating small, dumb humans’. And for the seasoned film buff, there can be some kind of drinking game trivia in place since this has lots of little facts about the film that would serve for a good throw down…
With my rental of this (and may I just say here thank GOD for Black Dog Video for allowing me the pleasure of going to a DVD rental place. For the love of sass, they are pretty much the last place left in Vancouver) it came with an extra DVD. While I don’t bother much with DVD ‘extras’ usually (read: ever) I was intrigued enough and put it on. It made me giggle that this old grey mare of a movie was getting the same kind of repackaging love as if she was a grand Hollywood Dame, but let’s be real for a moment: if the movie made you laugh, this DVD will have you soaking the seat with amused piddles. The extra DVD boasted a ‘JAWS THE CLAWS ‘ featurette on the making of, theatrical trailer, some radio spots, and a few trailers for other productions that came out at that time. It was worth the time watching it, and interestingly the bear who played the Grizzly had a baby who later went on to bear fame as Bart The Bear and appeared in the aforementioned The Great Outdoors as the Bald Headed Bear. Small world.
So this is worth checking out if you want a film to kind of watch but don’t want to expend a great deal of cerebral time. It is also a Risk Recommended Date Movie since it’s perfect to make out during the slow parts, but you can watch the goofy bear sequences, have a laugh, look at your dishy friend, and go back to making out and not miss any major plot points. Also: grizzly fighting helicopter is an INSTANT panty-dropper if you’re with the right person. You’re welcome.
Hugs and hisses,
Little Miss Risk
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