Camping Gone Afoul – Grizzly (1976)

One does not have to watch a movie to know that man and nature cannot co-exist, it is proven on a daily basis through the various news outlets and it is a story that will continue until there is no nature left. Grizzly is a film that looks to cash in on the animal/nature attacks phenomenon of the 1970s, a movie dressed up as a horror picture with a few thrills, a bit of adventure and a dash of drama for good measure. But as a horror movie, one has to decide what the real horror is – the bear killing men, women and children or mankind invading its area and then destroying it when it was simply doing what it was born to do.

When this film was first released, it might have thrilled a little more than it does in this current day and age, but there is still some entertainment to be found and that is courtesy of Christopher George who plays the lead as a park ranger looking to protect those under his watch. Things are made difficult thanks to the park supervisor played by Joe Dorsey who manages to be quite the scumbag, a man only looking out for himself rather than those who might be hurt as a consequence of his actions. The film is obviously, quite reminiscent of Jaws, especially the way it plays out. One never sees the creature at first except for a paw here and there and of course, what it leaves behind, that usually being a body and when the bear is finally revealed, it is a monster, to say the least, made all the more so with some good camera work. There is a bit of silliness injected into the whole affair, namely the fact that a bear as large as it is purported to be is able to hide so well in the light of day when so many people are out looking for it. As body after body falls and the people are seemingly unable to track it, it almost borders on lunacy that such a creature is smarter than those that are hunting it. Be that as it may, it is good in a way to see the bear evading those that would kill it and one almost hopes that when confronted, George will somehow be able to save it and relocate it or whatever the occasion might call for, but there could only be one conclusion and it comes to pass not with a whisper, but a bang.

Grizzly is not all that bad when it comes right down to it, though it did perhaps go on for a little longer than it needed to. All the right elements were introduced to create a fairly suspenseful film and the bear is made to seem as scary as possible, the same technique used to make Jaws as frightening as it was. Where the latter succeeded, Grizzly was not so much scary as it was matter of fact – bears do what they need to do. Strangely enough, while the bear would not survive the experience, there would still be a sequel released eight years later, though obviously with a different grizzly altogether.

3 out of 5

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