Grizzly is a Cult Classic independent "Nature Strikes Back" film from the 1970s by William Girdler (Day of the Animals, Manitou). Notable for ripping off Steven Spielberg's Jaws at every possible opportunity, and still managing to be some fun in its own right. In this film, a national park finds itself terrorized by a massive bear.
Released in 1976, Grizzly was actually the most successful independent film made that year, raking in a shocking $30 million from a budget of $750,000. It was the most successful independant motion picture until John Carpenter made Halloween two years later.
It's also notable a sequel was attempted in the '80s that was never finished or released, and which seemingly would never see the light of day. That is, until a very rough work print (without the bear footage, save for some scenes at the end featuring an animatronic) was thrown on the internet during the Charlie Sheen craze in 2011, due to the film being one of the earliest roles for Sheen (as well as George Clooney and Laura Dern, believe it or not). Fan-Edits can be found around the net which often include bear footage to fill in the gaps.
Then, in 2020, the film, titled Grizzly II: Revenge, was finally completed through the efforts of producer Suzanne Nagy, editors and some stock bear footage, trimmed down from the leaked edit's running time to just 75 minutes. The film made its premiere at L.A. Live and was slated to run in film festivals, but those plans were scuttled by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The film finally arrived digitally and in select theaters on January 8, 2021.
Not to be confused with Grizzly, another killer bear film released in 2015 starring Billy Bob Thornton, James Marsden and Thomas Jane and known as Red Machine in other areas outside the US. Also not to be confused with the documentary Grizzly Man, or the Inuit lacrosse sports drama film The Grizzlies.
It was given the RiffTrax treatment in 2017.
Tropes present in Grizzly include...
- Alas, Poor Villain: Kelly stares sadly at the Grizzly's burning corpse for several seconds after killing it.
- An Arm and a Leg:
- The first onscreen victim gets her arm knocked off by the bear before it mauls her to death.
- Also, there's a truly tasteful later scene in which we get to see a 10-year-old child whose leg gets torn off.
- Bears Are Bad News: One of the earliest examples in the "Killer Bear" genre, though not the first.
- Blood from the Mouth:
- Helicopter pilot Don bites it with copious amounts of this.
- A young child and his mother also end up spewing up rivers of gore when the bear attacks them.
- Bloodless Carnage: Averted. For a PG-rated film, there is a ton of blood.
- Cat Scare: Played with. A group of hunters are asleep around a camp fire, we see close-ups of a bears face for the first time in the film, the camera closes in, the music builds, the hunters wake up, see it and scream... only to find that they've been paid a visit by a harmless cub. Mirthless Laughter ensues.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: For a film rated PG, the film contains a sizable amount of blood and limbs flying, though films in the 70s were allowed to have a moderate amount of grisly violence.
- Hellish Copter: The bear attacks the helicopter in the last reel.
- Hope Spot: Scotty wakes up after being mauled and buried by the Grizzly, only to be killed again moments later by the same animal.
- Improbable Infant Survival: Subverted. Poor little Bobby has his leg torn off by the bear, though his ultimate fate is implied to be survival.
- Kill It with Fire: In the Novelization, the bear is killed with a flamethrower.
- Made of Explodium: The bear is blown up by a bazooka
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Inverted, as the majority of the victims are women.
- Novelization: By William Collins. Noted for making far more sense than the movie, as it actually gave real reasons for why the bear started eating people. If you must know, it grew too big too fast, so its mother drove it off before it knew how to hunt or forage properly; it injured its jaw before entering the park, leaving it in serious pain; and one of the first victims was menstruating. Angry hungry bear plus clumsy human prey plus the scent of blood = massacre time.
- Mirthless Laughter: Follows the cub scare mentioned above.
- Off with His Head!: That poor horse This one is Truth in Television too; bears really have decapitated large mammals with a single blow from their paw.
- Prehistoric Monster: Played with. At one point, Scotty identifies the bear as an Ursus arctodus. Anyone caring to do the research will discover this is (at least partially) the scientific name for the giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus), which pretty much fits in terms of its hyper-carnivorous behavior. The bear's size more closely approaches the more herbivorous Ursus spelaus, or cave bear.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: In a movie about a giant killer bear that's devouring everyone in its path, half of the music sounds like something you'd hear either on a National Geographic documentary or one of Disney's live action/nature films.
- Too Dumb to Live: The park ranger who strips to her underwear to "dip her feet" when she's searching for a man-eating grizzly bear, and Scotty.
- Would Harm A Child: In a genuinely nasty scene for the time, a young child has a leg ripped off by the bear right on screen.