Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Grizzly (1976)

Gee, I wonder if this was inspired by Jaws?  Arriving in cinemas a year after that 1975 smash hit, this contrived man vs. nature flick from executive producer Edward L. Montoro trades a big shark for a big bear and subs in Christopher George, Richard Jaeckel, and Andrew Prine for Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw.  Advantage: Jaws.  Yes, Grizzly is inferior to Spielberg's masterpiece in every way possible, but that doesn't mean that it's a bad movie.  It's not a good movie either, it's just an average film that does manage to provide the viewer with a few thrills and an abundance of gorgeous scenery.  There are a multitude of shots from the bear's POV and a lot of genuine bear footage to go along with a fair amount of gore, though the film suffers whenever a shot requires someone to interact with the titular menace.  The amount of suspense the picture is able to generate is surprising, and Grizzly somehow succeeds despite an abundance of cliches and a lack of originality.  Seriously, you could put this movie on and engage in a drinking game where you take a shot every time something happens in Grizzly that is a blatant rip-off of something that happened in Jaws, but you would probably succumb to alcohol poisoning.  That aside, the picture has its merits.  The direction courtesy of William Girdler is okay and the acting is good; George, Jaeckel, and Prine all do a fine job with the material.  Of the three, George was the clear choice to serve as the lead, and each of these actors enjoyed worthwhile careers in film and television.  I personally feel that each of these talented performers was vastly underrated, but the horror genre that I'm so enamored with benefited greatly from the lack of mainstream respect that they received.  The plot is pretty much what you would expect: a scenic park is the setting for a grisly grizzly rampage and the bear in question is a massive specimen.  Despite the presence of a smug and greedy authority figure (Joe Dorsey doing his best Murray Hamilton), the good guys embark on a quest to save the day, though only of one of them will live to the see the job finished. 

Final Grade: C

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