At an impressionable age I saw both Jaws and Grizzly and to this day I will watch any footage of either of these large predators on Discovery channel. Must be why I have had four straight St. Bernards as pets. I just love BIG animals.
For this Paramount release we take the successful blueprint of Jaws and change the names and location, add a few tweaks to re-cycle the Spielberg film and BANG! we have another man vs. nature drive-in classic. Jaws rip-off or not, I really don’t care because this film is totally watchable for an exploitation film that is well filmed in the great outdoors with three leading men who are familiar to us all. In the Roy Scheider role we have National Forest Park Ranger Christopher George who fits the role quite nicely. For Richard Dreyfuss sub in one of my favorite character actors Richard Jaeckel and for the Robert Shaw role we have helicopter pilot Andrew Prine who gets to tell us a story not quite up to the famed Indianapolis speech but he tries.
The music by Robert O Ragland mirrors Jaws at feeding time but overall stands on it’s own and the acting from our 3 leads is perfectly fine. Not so much from the rest of the cast that director William Girdler has assembled for us. Girdler would reunite with both Jaeckel and George the following year for another man vs. nature thriller in Day of the Animals bringing along Leslie Nielsen for the fun. The bear used in the film is massive and is mighty impressive on two feet, the model used for the up close bear hugs a little less so but hard to find an actor willing to take that kind of squeeze with a co star built like this one. This rather bloody film proved a sizable hit for an independent feature paving the way for films like Halloween.
Although I never heard anything about Universal suing to stop the release of this film as it is basically a remake of Jaws I do know they successfully stopped the release of Great White in the early 80’s that starred James Franciscus and Vic Morrow. I guess the Grizzly made all the difference. Jaws influence or not it’s a fun watch.