‘Grizzly’ (1976)

Grizzly (1976)

There should be a new word for low-budget films that play out like an episode of Happy Days until the death scenes come in. Grizzly could be a made for TV movie until the bear attacks. When the claws flare up, we are treated to an unexpected amount of blood and disfigurement. The death scenes in Grizzly are on par with Monty Python violence. Arms fly into the woods while a swinging claw fills the screen from the camera’s point of view. In true nature-gone-wrong fashion, we are meant to fear the sublime and don’t get a good look at the bear until later in the movie. The aftermath, however, is curiously bloody.

The movie should win an award for the monster film that most miscalculates the instinct of its subject. I guess it can’t top Jaws: The Revenge, but Grizzly is worth seeing for the ridiculous lengths the filmmaker goes to explain why a bear is going around attacking people. Bears just don’t do the things that this bear does. At least not with the discipline this bear displays. The filmmakers would have done just as well making this some sort of nuclear bear; it would have sped up the slow parts.

Most of the budget for this movie seems to have gone into a hilariously overactive soundtrack and a helicopter. The helicopter gets a lot of screen time. It should have handled more of the dialogue. The characters are innocuous until they push the envelope and become endlessly stupid. I do not know much about nature, but I imagine in real life a trained team of park rangers could at least triangulate where a bear is rampaging and close the area off to tourists. These guys just casually search for it, discussing life, love, and bears along the way. There is no contest; you will find yourself rooting for the bear.