Grizzly (1976)

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Jaws with paws, that’s the main thing to bear in mind (no pun intended) while watching this 70s movie about a killer grizzly bear that just doesn’t want to stop killing and eating. It’s up to our plucky heroes to try and save the day before the tents are awash with blood.

Starring Christopher George, and Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel, Grizzly sticks to the Jaws formula so closely that it alternates between providing genuine entertainment and unintended laughs.

The direction, from William Girdler, is competent enough and things move along at a relatively brisk pace – we get bearcam moments, some decent kills and the standard failed attempts to halt the situation before the big showdown in the last act – but the film remains more of an amusing timewaster than anything else. The script, by Harvey Flaxman and David Sheldon, is also competent although the indian story related with the sincerity and weight of the “U.S.S. Indianapolis” tale from Jaws pushes things a bit too far.

The acting fits with the material. George is great as Chief Brody . . . . . . I mean, ummmm, Michael Kelly while Prine and Jaeckel provide decent support.

But the best thing of all is the variable quality of the effects on display. We get to see limbs flying through the air in one scene and then, in the next, we see someone fall to the ground with streaks of red colouring on their face. People grabbed by the bear look like they’re being hugged by someone wearing suitably furry attire. And those deadly paws often look like huge mittens when shown in close-up.

Daffy and endearing as both a movie in it’s own right and a Jaws rip-off/homage, Grizzly is more fun than it should be and was the most financially successful independent movie of 1976 with an impressive $39 million haul (according to IMDb).

DIRECTOR: WILLIAM GIRDLER
STARS: CHRISTOPHER GEORGE, ANDREW PRINE, RICHARD JAECKEL, JOAN MCCALL
RUNTIME: 91 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

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