In the years following the success of Jaws, plenty of filmmakers tried to emulate the brilliance and achievement that wowed audiences across North America in that summer of 1975, but to no avail. Some were good, some were bad, and some were plain old ugly. But nothing met the bar quite like Grizzly, a carbon copy of Jaws, and essentially is Jaws… with paws.
If you don’t believe me, here’s a brief plot summary:
An authority figure teams up with a scientist and a war vet to hunt an oversized animal that is stalking and killing tourists during vacation season after a money hungry politician opposes closing the tourist attraction.
Well known for its similarities to the 1975 blockbuster, Grizzly viewers should look past the similarities and enjoy the film for what it is – a well laboured masterpiece.
With the use of first-person camera angles and puppetry during attack scenes, the effects are ahead of its time (yet behind today’s MTV generation standards) – another feat that makes films like Jaws timeless classics.
The acting is akin to some of the higher-budget films of the time thanks to Christopher George, Richard Jaeckel, and Andrew Prine as our resident Chief Ranger Michael Kelly, naturalist Arthur Scott, and Vietnam veteran turned helicopter pilot Don Stober, respectively.
There are plenty of other similarities that mirror Jaws, but I think we can all agree that we’d rather see a good doppelgänger than a heap of steaming bear shit, and Grizzly achieves the former.
The film begins when Kelly is in over his head after his short-staffed crew must patrol a park being terrorized by a 15-foot (or the size of “a D8 Cat”, as Stober puts it) man-eating grizzly bear. As tourists, vacationers and RVers are being scoffed down by the second, Kelly and his band of three go on a quest to hunt the gorging grizzly. The hearsay doesn’t get too far before local hunters and trappers hop on the bandwagon to catch the ambitious bear. It all ends in an explosive scene not quite as climatic as Jaws, but still has its merits.
All-in-all, Grizzly is the crème de la crème of all Jaws knock-offs, not only in story and plot, but in style and substance. Hopefully not a Hidden Horror for too long, but long enough to keep you and your friends coming back here for more.
– Matthew McPhee