Nature Run Amok – Grizzly (1976)

If ya feel a wet snout in yer face, whatever you do, don’t move.
And don’t kiss it back, ‘cause it ain’t me.
Don Stober

Release Date: May 21, 1976

Christopher George as Michael Kelly
Andrew Prine as Don Stober
Richard Jaeckel as Arthur Scott
Joan McCall as Allison Corwin
Joe Dorsey as Charley Kittridge

Written by Harvey Flaxman & David Sheldon
Directed by William Girdler

A 15 foot high grizzly bear weighing 3,000 lbs is on the rampage in a national park. Without terrifying the campers, a ranger and two others must hunt down the grizzly before it kills again.  

My first experience with the film
I feel like I should have seen this before but I believe this is my first time watching Grizzly.

Richard’s Review
If upon your first viewing of Grizzly you feel like you’ve seen this story before, you probably have as it borrows heavily from Jaws, which was released the previous year. In a blatant attempt to capitalize on the renewed interest in natural horror films, the rampaging beast is changed from a shark to a grizzly and the setting is moved from the beach to the forest. We trade in Roy Scheider for Christopher George as the park ranger who is arguing with the park supervisor over how to handle a rampaging killer grizzly without closing the park during the tourist season.

While Jaws ultimately works better because of superior production values, Grizzly is still a fun romp through the woods. It lacks the tension of Jaws and suffered greatly at the time because it was clearly a rip-off. I never felt the fear for those in the forest as I did for the swimmers in the ocean. Perhaps it’s because there is the perception that you are more helpless in the water. After all, you can only swim so fast. Granted, you aren’t going to outrun a bear but the threat level seemed lower. However, dare I say that using a real bear helped make this film a little more realistic at times, just not nearly as cinematic.  

Christopher George may not be on the same acting level as Roy Scheider but I always enjoy his films and he didn’t disappoint here. That said, I prefer Day of the Animals over Grizzly. Sure, it needed a greater variety of animals but it embraces it’s B-level roots while Grizzly suffers from trying to be something more than it ultimately is. I’d definitely watch it again but it’s not necessarily something I need to add to my collection.    

Did you know?
Grizzly was the most financially successful independent film of 1976 and the 1970s overall, earning $39,000,000 at the box office. It held those honors until Halloween (1978) broke the record.

The late, great comic book artist Neal Adams created the film poster.

Grizzly is available on Blu-ray from Severin Films and is streaming on Shudder and Amazon Prime.

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