The 1970’s were rife with animal on the rampage movies but a certain film about a shark directed by a young fella whose first name was Steven really got the ball rolling. Every kind of animal which you could class as scary looking especially sea creatures started to take a bite out of innocent people. We even got giant chickens in AIP’s adaption of HG Wells’ Food of the Gods but William Girdler’s Grizzly is the film we’re talking about here.
Something is attacking and eating people in a national park. The Head Ranger, Kelly played by the late great Christopher George is responsible for the safety of the people (and animals) in the park and is justifiably concerned. The attacks continue and when one of Kelly’s own rangers is killed whilst conveniently stripping off for a swim, something has to be done and against his better judgement local hillbilly hunters are called in to assist either capturing or killing the rampaging bear.
Surprisingly very bloody but not gory, the attacks are short but effective and director Girdler sure does love his point of view camera angle as Mr. Grizzly prowls around the forest looking for his lunch. No-one is safe from the claws and choppers of the bear even a little kid bites the dust. George is backed up by Andrew (Eliminators and V) Prine as a helicopter pilot and veteran journeyman actor Richard Jaeckel who can count the legendary Green Slime amongst his credits as an animal expert.
Critics destroyed Grizzly at the time of it’s release and in all honesty it’s a complete rip-off of Jaws right down to the main three central characters basically all being a mixture of Hooper, Quint and Brody. For a cheap knock-off the production is very classy as the photography is excellent and even the music by Robert O’Ragland (a Cannon Films music Vet) uses a full orchestra for the score which makes the film sound a lot more expensive than some hokey library music or cheap synth tracks would.
The film world lost a pretty talented director in William Girdler who died at the very young age of 30. He had completed an impressive amount of films when he passed including Sheba Baby with Pam Grier.
So if you go down to the woods today you will be sure of a surprise as Grizzly is rather a lot of fun, a lot of nonsense but a lot of fun.
- Starring Christopher George Andrew Prine Joe Dorsey Richard Jaeckel
- Director William Girdler