So once again we have survived.

Grizzly

tn_grizzlyLoosely based on Hanna-Barbera’s YOGI BEAR, GRIZZLY is the story of an uptight forest ranger (Christopher George) who just can’t stand that a bear is running around his woods living the free, unencumbered life of fun that his conformist philosophy won’t allow him. This is the more realistic BATMAN BEGINS version though so Yogi doesn’t talk or wear a hat or tie. Instead he’s 15 feet tall and weighs over a ton. Instead of stealing pic-a-nic baskets he steals people, by which I mean he eats them. Boo Boo is not a major character but is represented by a bear cub who some yokel hunters decide to capture and use as bait for Yogi. Yogi’s wiseass response? He eats Boo Boo.

mp_grizzlyOkay, I guess more than YOGI BEAR it’s based on JAWS. The Roy Scheider would be the forest ranger, because he’s the guy who takes responsibility and nobody takes him seriously enough. I guess the Richard Dreyfus would be Richard Jaeckel’s character Scotty, because he’s the animal expert. He’s actually the best character because he’s a weirdo, he crawls around the woods with a bear skin over him, trying to go deep undercover. Doesn’t really seem to work though.

It would be cool if he interacted with the bear, and there’s tense sequences where they almost see through his disguise or he doesn’t know some normal bear thing like which berries to eat or how to catch fish or something, so his cover almost gets blown. Or they test him by forcing him to maul somebody. You’d hope he’s gonna weasel out of it some way but then he goes through with it and you think oh shit man, Scotty’s in too deep, he’s gone over the edge. I mean you know how undercover guys can get out of control and forget which side they’re on, that is definitely a possibility for Scotty here. At the end he would have really bonded with this bear and his loyalties would be torn between man and bearkind. Ultimately I believe he would revert to his human side and would set the bear up to be shot by the hunters or something. But the bear would look Scotty in the eye, betrayed. As if to ask why? I thought you were my friend. You sonofabitch you’ll pay for this. I loved you you sonofabitch, I loved you. And Scotty would look down at the ground, knowing he was scum of the earth. There’s no putting in a good word with the judge for this bear. And this bear doesn’t have a wife to give the money too. And there’s no money either. You fuckin blew it, Scotty. Fuck you.

Scotty’s more laid back than Dreyfus, and doesn’t have people skills. He falls asleep during important meetings, just getting into character I guess. I don’t think they show him scratching his back on a tree or stealing honey, though.

Quint I guess would be the Vietnam vet chopper pilot who betrays his vow of nonviolence to help out. He’s not as big of a character as Quint was, though. Instead of a greedy resort owner keeping the beach open it’s an incompetent mayor keeping the woods open.

The director is Willaim Girdler, who also did DAY OF THE ANIMALS and I might watch that but only if somebody swears it’s better than this one. Obviously this is no JAWS, or ORCA either. You can’t expect JAWS-level characters or filmatism, so instead I hoped for some enjoyable bear mauling. I mean, it’s funny to see a quick swing of bear claw and then a separate shot of an arm or head flying, but it’s not enough to sustain a movie. They didn’t build an animatronic bear so instead you gotta make do with POV shots and closeups of a real bear. And he’s big but clearly not as prehistorically giant as they claim he is. Unless maybe the trees in the background were supposed to also be giant. And also the helicopter. And it had magnifying windows to make the people inside look giant.

Nearly all the main characters bite it except for the ranger’s girlfriend. It’s funny, she wants to go along to take pictures, and he won’t let her, he forces her to stay behind for safety (because of she’s a girl). She’s offended because she knows she’s actually a Strong Women, but to my surprise she doesn’t show up in the woods and get herself into trouble but then ultimately save the day. You never hear about her again. I figure she probly survives, although who knows who the bear is eating while he’s off screen. It’s possible he went to her house and ate her, then the ranger’s gonna feel like a real dick for telling her to stay home.

Scotty gets it the worst. The bear scratches him up, then buries him. Later he regains consciousness and you think “Oh good, he survived.” Then the bear lunges at him and it cuts to the others finding his fucked up corpse.

I mean, this is a maniac bear, and most likely one with an eating disorder. It’s just unhealthy how many people this thing eats. I worry about him. Plus as he gets older his metabolism is changing, he’s gonna get real fat.

I wouldn’t really recommend this movie, but the end is a keeper. He stupidly lands the chopper near the bear, only to have it attacked. The bear stands upright, the perfect set up for a chopper-blade-bear-beheading that goes unrealized. But he does blow the bear to shit with a bazooka (and unconvincing editing). That’s a definite rewinder there. Then he walks away from the flaming wreckage, the last man or bear standing. For a second he allows himself a half-smile of satisfaction, then looks grim. Poor Yogi.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2009 at 1:44 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

49 Responses to “Grizzly”

  1. P.S. After reading up on this on IMDb I wish I’d had time to watch the bonus disc, where they apparently talk about the unfinished ’87 sequel about grizzlies attacking people (including George Clooney, Charlie Sheen and Laura Dern) at an outdoor concert.

  2. This just made me think of that movie “Peter Benchley’s the Beast,” about the shark who grew legs and opened doors. And while I don’t remember that being any good, I do remember the part where he grew legs was kind of cool. Jaws ripoffs could do with more mutation.

  3. Shit. It was “The Creature.” “The Beast” is about a giant squid.

  4. I enjoyed Grizzly a lot but will agree that it’s not very good. Girdler had an interesting career before it was tragically cut short by a helicopter accident while filming The Manitou (pretty fun, by the way) in the Phillipines. His first movie, Three on a Meathook, is incredibly bizarre. Not in a good way and it gets pretty boring at times, but there are moments of inspiration.

  5. Sorry Vern, if GRIZZLY didn’t do it for you then I doubt you’ll like DAY OF THE ANIMALS either. Go to youtube and look up the scene where Leslie Nielsen takes his shirt off and makes a crazy speech in the rain, that’s the best part.

  6. Great review vern. That Scotty undercover stuff is the reason I keep coming here. Though I do wish the bear would’ve become more like Scotty’s mentor and taught him the bear ways…..maybe even saved his life a few times. That way at the end when he’s getting cuffed and thrown into the back of a squad car he can yell out to Scotty “You little sonovabitch!!!! I treat you like a SON and you fuck me in the ass?!?!” Other than that it was great.

  7. Day of the Animals is not better than Grizzly as a whole, but there is one amazing scene where Leslie Neilsen goes crazy, takes his shirt off, declares himself king of the jungle, denounces God, and wrestles a bear in the rain. This scene is the reason people watch movies like this in the first place.

  8. Vern , I agree , I’ve seen this a couple of years ago and I enjoyed the man-bear undercover aspect . The more , the better . Imagine if the guy went totally feral , like Anthony Hopkins in that monkey movie , acting like a wild animal . The problem here is the lack of ass-sniffing , in my humble opinion . One , the ass-sniffing can be seen as total commitment to your undercover work , trying to fit in with the other bears . Two , ass-sniffing is a valuable tool in your everyday detective work , you know , looking for clues and all . I think it can actually work in other movies as well . Think about Batman sniffing around the woods of Gotham , after all he’s a mammal-detective too. Or maybe used in another undercover movie like Donnie Brasco.

  9. I will very probably never see GRIZZLY, but I definitely enjoyed reading about it. Thanks Vern.

  10. Although GRIZZLY MAN conclusively answered the question of what would happen to a man who turns feral and decides to live with the bears (spoiler: he gets eaten) it would be awesome if it turned into an APOCALYPSE NOW style scenario, living deep in the woods as the King of the Bears.

  11. Vern – You should also review PROPHECY, that mutant bear monster movie from the late 70s.

    And directed by John Frankenheimer. Yes, the MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, RONIN, REINDEER GAMES John Frankenheimer. That tells you how bad his career was at that time.

    Or a decade later with the rather boring Don Johnson-fights-skinheads actioneer DEAD BANG, which despite William Forsyth as a FBI agent, is rather lame. Still a great moment when after chasing a bad guy for blocks and catching him, Johnson pukes. We need to see that more at the movies.

  12. Mayor Vaughn kept the beaches open in Jaws, not a resort owner.

  13. It’s official – the “undercover Scotty” paragraph may be the funniest thing Vern’s ever written. Hell, I’m still laughing about it as I write this. (I do get the feeling Vern was high as fuck when writing this though).

  14. Kermit, in what monkey movie does anthony hopkins go all feral? honest question.

  15. INSTINCT

    And it wasn’t much.

  16. Yes , Instinct . Hannibal is adopted by a family of monkeys in the jungle for a couple of years , and he goes feral . Then Cuba Gooding Jr. helps him regain his humanity . Not a great movie , just Hopkins playing a different kind of madman.

  17. I’ll give INSTINCT this: Remember that whole set-up about how the asylum inmates fight each other so they could get a few minutes out in the sunlight?

    Certainly puts a perspective on what one would value in context, and what others would take for granted.

    Also, old English man Hopkins beating up that big black guy was funny.

  18. shit INSTINCT i forgot all about that one.

    but speaking of anthony hopkins and bears, that movie THE EDGE, by everyone’s favorite cross-dressing maori director, is pretty good and underrated. it has hopkins and alec baldwin going somewhat feral.

    what are some other, good man goes feral movies?

    there are plenty of feral man movies. like herzog’s KASPAR HAUSER aka EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF AND GOD AGAINST ALL (great movie, awesome title) and charlie kaufman and michel gondry’s HUMAN NATURE (pretty good and underrated) come to mind off the top of my head, but there’s tons more.

    but what are some movies where regular guys become animal (i’m eschewing sci-fi/horror/fantasy here, like werewolf movies or LATERED STATES etc.)?

  19. oh and RRA, i think a lot of folks in cardiff might wanna fight you if they saw you call anthony hopkins english. ;)

  20. yikes, of course i meant ALTERED STATES above!

  21. The Edge has,by far,the best bear-eats-man scene in any movie I’ve ever seen.

  22. Ken Wahl _IS_ “Wisebear”…?

    (And if he went undercover to bust donkeys he’d be….)

    Meanwhile, I second the requests for Vern to review “Prophecy” and “The Edge”. My mind sorta boggles over what he’ll make of “Prophecy”.

  23. Love and Bearsketball

  24. I agree about the bear-eats-man-scene in The Edge. Wasn’t Harold Perrineau the guy who got eaten?

  25. CrustaceanHate – I don’t know how difficult it is to become King of Bears. After all, Maggie Simpson had a pretty easy time doing it. But then maybe different rules apply to cartoons.

  26. Yeah but he had it coming. Motherfucker shot Libby! Libby! And the girl from the fast and furious movies, but c’mon, Libby! She just made date plans with Hurley! It’s so unfair. Seriously though, look at the promotional pictures they took of all the cast for the first season, they’ve killed almost everybody. And you keep expecting to develop some kind of detachment or awareness for when somone is going to bite it, but you can’t. People just die suddenly and horribly and it hurts every fucking time. That’s great TV. I’m talking about Lost by the way, not sure how clear that was.

  27. Virgin Gary – I was going to write this pseudo-witty response to Wales in Welch to insult them again, but we don’t have enough bandwith here. :)

  28. yeah, it’s perrineau who gets ate, but it’s a great scene, and i don’t mind seeing him get ate cause he has always annoyed and still continues to annoy me in everything i have seen him in (ROMEO & JULIET, THE EDGE, THE MATRIX shitquels, LOST).

  29. RRA – yeah and even if there was enough bandwith, you would run the risk of wearing out the ‘l,’ ‘y,’ and ‘w’ keys on your keyboard.

  30. Other movies with characters going feral ?

    Maybe The Descent ? I don’t remember the ending very well . And while not “feral” , Rambo goes savage in the first one ( and Arnie in Predator , but that’s full sci-fi ) . I also remember the movie “Indio” : a marine goes savage to save his tribe or forest against a corporation.

    Jam : Donnie Bearsco really needs to be done , right now.

  31. Also , for the sake of argument and to better analyze the subject , here’s a picture of a crotch-sniffing bear :

    http://www.rayrogers.com/samfogler.jpg

  32. I second the “PROPHECY” tip. It has Armand Assante playing an Indian dude with bow and arrow hunting the bear and the lead character is played by some dude who was in Falcon Crest(not Lorenzo Lamas). If you want gore and a Bear monster, thats the one to see.

  33. While we are talking about perrineau I just gotta ask , is is just me who has seen this guy as one of the most under-used/under-rated actors working today. I’ve bought into whatever character he’s played since his excellent work in every season of Oz(maybe not every scene in the Matrix sequels).

    Poor Hurley has never been the same since losing Lizzie and I’m hoping they can find a way to re-unite them with all the time traveling that’s going on. Plus I dunno, with the way the last season ended with the nuke the whole story thread(if i know my nuclear explosions like i do) will have never happened.

  34. Dieselboy, it might just be you. I’ve always found Perrineau to be whiny and uncharismatic, no matter who he’s playing.

  35. Mr. M I am completely willing to believe you as his appearances in film are very sporadic and always in a supporting role.

  36. haven’t read the review yet, but i have to give you a heads up on an great slasher.
    VISITING HOURS. Michael Ironside plays a fucking terminator of a man, stalking Lee Grant & Linda Purl in a hospital. Shatner co-stars. check it out.

  37. Hey Vern, I figured after watching the “Bear attack” scene from FACES OF DEATHS, any bear-related deaths would have to seem more real by comparison. Guess it’s been long enough that you can start to wish for more again.

  38. dan – VISITING HOURS might be worth seeing just for the image on the video box (I assume it’s not on dvd).

    If I remember correctly, Lee Grant’s character is assaulted by Ironside’s character specifically because he disagrees with her feminist ideas. Grant refuses to give a typical slasher girl performance in this one, as I recall. And they load Ironside’s character up with psychological baggage, right?

    I saw this during the first wave of beta video tapes around the same time as THE KIDNAPPING OF THE PRESIDENT, also starring the Shat.

  39. You guys ever seen Man in the Wilderness? Pretty good bear attack on Richard Harris, marred by obvious cutting between shots of a real bear and a dude in a ratty fur suit interacting with Harris. If they’d made a better costume or edited a bit quicker, it would be one for the ages. It’s still fairly grueling– but you have you have to squint a bit and play ball.

    The rest of the film is worthwhile if you like survival odyssey-type stuff. Just to warn you — there’s a wolf attack on a dying bison that definitely involved animal cruelty. Pretty nasty, actually.

  40. Hey Vern great review(yet again). Not trying to de-rail the topic but I wanted to let you know about an insanely good documentary on the slasher genre i saw last night called Going to Pieces. Featured interviews with everyone from John Carpenter to Wes Craven to the lady with the dick in Sleepaway Camp(spoiler). It showed a ton of footage and covers for other slasher movies of the time that I know you haven’t reviewed so you might wanna check it out before the end of October(if u have netflix u can “watch instantly”).
    Cheers

  41. Jareth – ya, you got it. Ironside is one menacing motherfucker in it too. i just found it to be a very classy, tense thriller (slahsher?). the image on the poster is really misleading. makes you think it’s some kinda B-movie horror-hospital type of deal. great tagline though “There is no known cure… for MURDER!”. haha.

  42. My favorite part of Visiting Hours is when Ironside jumps out of nowhere, buck-naked and covered in gold jewelry, looking like Xerxes from 300.

  43. and then promptly changes back in street clothes and continues to attack the same woman. it’s never even hinted at why he would do that. haha. amazing.

  44. For the life of me I can’t remember what Shatner was doing in that film. I remember the feminism, I remember a very troubled Ironside, but what the hell was Shat?

  45. Shat was her boss at the news station. he came in periodically to assure her that’s she’s safe, then leaves so she can get attacked again.

  46. His major contribution to the film was that incredible suede safari jacket he was wearing.

  47. don’t forget Ironside’s swanky leather vest. this movie is all about the fashion. haha.

  48. Amazing review Vern! I like how you managed to project elements of both Inglourious Basterds and Point Break into your re-imaging.

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