9 January 2009 | ODDBear
Very entertaining "Jaws" rip-off
A huge grizzly bear is terrorizing local campers at a national state park and leaving a bloody trail. The Park Ranger (George) enlists the aid of a Vietnam vet helicopter pilot (Prine) and a naturalist (Jaeckel) to help end the bear's reign of terror. Also thrown in the mix is the state park's head honcho owner who keeps making things as difficult as possible for the trio.
Sound familiar? Does a shark, Roy Scheider etc. spring to mind? Well, the similarities to "Jaws" are undeniable and they're very obvious but that doesn't mean "Grizzly" is not a decent film. It's fairly good overall, the acting is horribly stilted on occasion, the script has it's fair share of stupid dialog, the gore scenes are a tad fake looking and the constant usage of fake shots of the bear (who is clearly in a completely different location) does indicate a relatively low budget. But sometimes the faults only add to the enjoyment, as is the case here.
This was a tremendously ambitious project for it's time and the grizzly bear scenes were a horror to film (and not to mention; quite dangerous). The film had a low budget and was shot in a short amount of time. Director William Girdler, a specialist for low budget rip-offs (I'm really interested to see his blaxploitation "Exorcist" rip-off "Abby"), makes the most out of this project. It's fast paced, gory, reasonably suspenseful and obviously made with passion. The cinematography is splendid and makes the most out of the gorgeous scenery. The only nit picking I have is the music score; a completely inappropriate orchestral score that looks and sounds like it belongs in a comedy rather than a horror film.
As for the actors, Christopher George may not have been a forceful dramatic performer but he's extremely likable and what he didn't have in the acting department he more than made up for that with charisma. Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel are a fine pair as George's aids but pretty much everyone else has an amateur night in terms of acting.
Late director William Girdler knew how to get the most out of a limited budget (check out "Day of the Animals", a semi-sequel to "Grizzly") and would probably have made plenty of first rate B-movies had he lived longer. "Grizzly" is a fine example of what the guy could manage and it's pretty impressive.