Plot: The serene atmosphere of Indian Springs National Park has been shattered by recent violence, as bear attacks have been reported and that kind of carnage can drive off visitors. The park tagged and transported the bears further up the mountains, for ease of access to food and to keep a distance from guests, but clearly that plan hasn’t taken root. Ranger Michael Kelly (Christopher George) is irate, as he wants answers and clashes with the park’s supervisor Kittridge (Joe Dorsey), who refuses to close the park until the danger has been dealt with. Even when expert naturalist Arthur Scott (Richard Jaeckel) insists that the attacks are the work of a towering grizzly bear, Kittridge ignores the facts and instead, dispatches a squad of drunken, unreliable rednecks to hunt down the bear. As the massive grizzly stalks the park, will anyone survive or does Indian Springs now belong to the Grizzly?
Entertainment Value: In the wake of Jaws, a tidal wave of killer animal movies was unleashed and cult director William Girdler contributed two, Day of the Animals and this wild romp, Grizzly. The narrative is simple enough, a bear is on the rampage and the man in charge turns to hicks with guns over common sense, which leads to hilarious consequences. The movie makes good use of a real bear to add tension, but this one is best viewed as b movie fun, which it offers in spades. The pace is great and the movie has minimal filler, so this is wall to wall good times, between the bear attacks and the cast’s melodrama. In some of these nature gone wild movies, the pace drags when the animals aren’t the focus, but that isn’t the case here, as the cast delivers some fun, camp performances. Christopher George and Richard Jaeckel lead the cast and do what they can with the script, but turn to melodrama and to me, that just adds to the good times here. Joe Dorsey is also the source of great entertainment in Grizzly, while Joan McCall and Andrew Prine have prominent roles as well. Grizzly has all the bases covered for a b movie of this kind, so if you appreciate wild, ridiculous killer animal movies, this one is well recommended.
No nakedness. There’s a tease during one scene, but bra and panties is the closest we get to sleaze here. But the movie delivers where it counts, which is outlandish bear attacks and demolished victims. This beast doesn’t mess around, slashing and chomping all that gets within his reach, with splashy results. This includes limbs torn off, faces slashed open, and heads bitten, with more blood than you’d expect from a PG movie, even by 70s standards. A mother tries to fist fight the bear, but he rips the leg off her child and in another scene, the bear punches the head clean off of a horse. This is wild stuff and Grizzly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to bear related violence, with good blood and outrageous moments. The dialogue here has some fun exchanges, especially between George and Dorsey, who feed off each other well and escalate nearly conversation into a full blown confrontation. The performances across the board are dialed up enough to make most of the lines seem overly dramatic, but overall those two have the best scenes and banter. As far as craziness, we have the campy performances, b movie vibes, and out of control bear attacks, so there’s some solid wackiness at work.
Overall Insanity: 6/10
The Disc: 88 Films presents the movie in a nice widescreen presentation, with a clean overall look that rivals other HD releases of the film. I found detail to be solid and the print seems to be in quite good condition. The extras here include an interview with David Del Valle, who talks about maverick filmmaker William Girdler, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer. The first pressing also includes an insightful set of liner notes from Calum Waddell and a slipcover.