• Grizzly

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: May 14th, 2018.
    Director: William Girdler
    Cast: Christopher George, Andrew Prine, Richard Jaeckel, Joan McCall, Joe Dorsey
    Year: 1976
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    The Movie:

    When Scorpion Releasing put Grizzly out on DVD a few years ago, Chris Workman had this to say:

    “When two hot young babes fail to return from a camping trip in a large national park, a ranger organizes a search party to find them. What he finds instead are their partially devoured bodies. An autopsy reveals that they were attacked by a bear, but the only large predators in the area are brown bears, which rarely attack humans and never eat them. The park’s supervisor blames the ranger for the disaster but fails to close the park, despite warnings from a naturalist that a grizzly is on the loose. And not just any grizzly, no sir; it’s a prehistoric one from the Pleistocene Epoch, one that enjoys the taste of human flesh. Hikers and campers are evacuated from the mountain where the bear attacks occurred, but the grizzly follows. Supervisor and ranger continue to argue over closing the park, until a little boy and his mother are attacked outside their home on the edge of the wilderness. The mother is killed, the boy loses his leg, and the resultant outcry over the incident finally convinces the supervisor to do what’s right and shut the place down while the ranger, the naturalist, and a helicopter pilot search for the marauding anachronism.

    Grizzly was shot by Kentucky native William Girdler, who had begun his directorial career in the Louisville area four years earlier with Asylum of Satan. He followed that film up with Three on a Meathook, loosely based on the true story of Ed Gein, three Blaxploitation pictures, including the infamous Abby, and a low-rent political thriller. Grizzly was Girdler’s best-funded movie—with much of the money raised through his own efforts—as well as his most commercially successful; it raked in nearly $40 million at the international box office, making it the biggest independent film of 1976. Its success convinced Girdler to return to the genre the following year with Day of the Animals. His last film, The Manitou, was released in 1978, the same year he died in a helicopter crash at the age of 30 while researching locations for his next film.

    Grizzly is wildly uneven. One of many nature-run-amok knockoffs that bobbed in the wake of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975), it bears more than a passing resemblance to that film in its structure, plot, and character development. The direction is competent if not inspired, a hallmark of Girdler’s career, while the acting is all over the map. The principals—Christopher George, Andrew Prine, and Richard Jaeckel—hand in solid performances. Where the film falters is in its casting of locals (it was shot in Georgia) in most of the smaller parts, of which there are plenty. They talk or scream their way through the picture with all the finesse of a middle school drama class.

    To be fair, they aren’t helped by a script that requires them to act stupidly, all the better to place them in harm’s way. For example, while on the hunt for victims of the bear, one female ranger announces that she’s tired and needs a break, sends her male partner on his way, and promptly strips down for a refreshing dip in a waterfall. (You should be able to guess what happens next. If you can’t, you may want to sign up for Horror Films 101.) Yet, despite its many illogicalities—or, more accurately, because of them—it has enough moments of unintentional humor to hold most viewer’s interests. There’s also a surprising amount of blood and gore for a mainstream picture of the period. How it lumbered into theaters with a PG rating is anyone’s guess.”


    Grizzly arrives on Blu-ray from 88 Films framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 25GB disc. Some shots look grainier than others and some shots look softer than others but even taking that into account this is a nice step up from past DVD editions in terms of detail, depth and texture. Outdoor shots really benefit the most, they’re very clear and show excellent color reproduction. Black levels are generally quite strong here and the disc is free of any obvious compression artifacts. The picture also retains its film-like qualities, and it is thankfully devoid of any noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement problems. It’s also pretty clean, showing only occasional small white specks rather than large scratches or anything like that. All in all, this is a strong transfer.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language LPCM Mono track, but it sounds just fine. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. No problems here- the dialogue is clean, clear and well balanced, offering a bit more depth and range than we had on the DVD releases.

    Aside from a trailer for the feature, 88 Films also supplies a twenty-two-minute featurette entitled What A Guy! in which film historian David Del Valle talks about his thoughts on the film and his experiences getting to know Christopher George over the years while they were both working in Hollywood. It’s a nice look back at the actor with some amusing and interesting anecdotes – particularly when it comes to discussing George’s Playgirl photoshoot!

    Inside the Blu-ray case is an insert booklet containing an essay on the film penned by Calum Waddell wherein he charts the course of the animal attack/nature run amuck film trend and offers up some insight into some of the sub-genre’s more impressive entries. It’s also worth mentioning that the disc comes with some cool reversible sleeve art and, if you purchase the disc directly from 88 Films, a limited-edition slipcover.

    Diehard Grizzly fans take note - past DVD editions in North America from Shriek Show and Scorpion Releasing contained quite a few supplements not included on this release.

    The Final Word:

    Grizzly might be uneven, but it is pretty fun – an entertaining ‘animal attack’ picture with a game cast and some memorable set pieces. 88 Films’ Blu-ray release might not be super stacked with extras but it does look and sounds very good.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!