Directed by William Girdler [Other horror films: Three on a Meathook (1972), Asylum of Satan (1972), Abby (1974), Day of the Animals (1977), The Manitou (1978)]
More than anything, this 70’s rip-off of Jaws, while occasionally charming and certainly possessing a beautiful setting (forested Clayton, Georgia), is ultimately a sluggish experience, and though not without positive aspects, ends up only an okay film.
The main issue here is how sluggish the film is. Sure, the setting is indeed beautiful, and there are a few solid scenes here (bear vs. kid, and bear vs. ranger tower being two of my favorite), but otherwise, Grizzly is just drier than the wood of the trees that make up the forest (horrible analogy, sure, but Grizzly’s still dry).
A few of the characters are decent. The main character, played by Christopher George (who went to later appear in plenty of horror films, including Whiskey Mountain, Day of the Animals, Mortuary, Pieces, City of the Living Dead, Cruise Into Terror, and Graduation Day) was perfectly solid, and I liked the differences in personalities between Andrew Prine’s gruff Vietnam vet character (this is just a few year following the conflict, so he’s still young man) and the scientific viewpoint of Richard Jaeckel. Honestly, none of the three add anything that special to the film, though, which is a bit of a problem.
Oh, and Joan McCall (who had a role in Peopletoys, more commonly known as Devil Time Five) was pretty much useless in this. I don’t really know what the point of her character was, because past a certain scene, she pretty much loses what limited relevance she had to begin with.
I don’t know. Grizzly isn’t that poor of a film, and as far as Jaws rip-offs go, it’s not bad. Like I said, it occasionally possesses a little charm here and there, and there are a few decent scenes, but overall, I think it’s a pretty underwhelming experience, and I’ve seen this twice now, so I think I’m somewhat firm in that stance.
This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if interested, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss the film.