Monday, July 6, 2015

Grizzly - 1976

"Jaws with claws" as the poster and the tagline read, this was a brief excursion into animal attack movies started by Jaws a couple years earlier. And Jaws set the bar pretty high for animal attack films. Grizzly is directed by William Girdler, who directed some great 70's films and then died in a helicopter crash. Tragic really, as a lot of his films showed promise or at least innovation. I think he probably would've gone on to be quite successful if he didn't die so young.

Grizzly is the classic story of a towering 18 foot grizzly who gets a taste for human flesh and starts rampaging all throughout the woods. It's got everything you'd expect from a movie like this: the tough cop good guy who is out to stop the monster, the blinded politician who either doesn't care about the threat or is too worried about bad publicity to follow the orders of the tough cop, and plenty of guys in bell bottoms running around getting bloodied up by the beast. It's medium paced, poorly edited, but followed through with getting some real bears and some genuinely cool moments.

I love animal attack movies. Especially when they were real animals instead of retarded CG things that look ridiculous. Girdler's other animal attack movie, Day of the Animals, is in my opinion way better then this one, but this movie is pretty entertaining as well.  Animal attack movies are just a lot of fun to me, you get the classic horror things, but you also don't get to have the killer ruined by a bad story line or bad acting or dialogue. So many times the killer could've been more menacing if only the film hadn't shown the killer doing stupid things or saying stupid things. Animal attack movies circumvent that with inhuman killers.

Plus in the older films like this, you couldn't show the bear that much since the animal needed a trainer and was relatively uncontrollable. You can almost feel the genuine fear of the actors and the film crew at the sight of some huge fucking grizzly roaring in your face. I feel fuckin freaked when I see a real bear attacking a real guy and knowing that even if that's his trainer right there, shit does go wrong and accidents happen. It's pretty impressive to see these sorts of scenes take place.

The pacing was kind of slow and there are plenty of times in the movie when it just feels like filler. The kills are usually not shown in detail, and when they are they're pretty lame. But it's worth it for the use of the real bear, for the acting which is pretty good, and for the ultimate payoff. The last 5 minutes are really, really cool.

This movie is bound to be eventually lost in time, it's pretty forgettable and all. Jaws will probably survive for quite a while longer as films like this just disappear into the sands of time. It's a shame, but it's also just the way of things. This director would go on to direct the equally good and freaky film The Manitou, which feels very similar in tone and pacing. Makes a lot of sense they were done by the same dude. This is a worthy entrance into the animal attack movies I've seen, not as good as Prophecy or Day of the Animals, but better than half of those bad shark movies and way better than some bullshit film like Stanley.

I give it a standard 2.5 stars.


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