It is a challenge to write about GRIZZLY without mentioning Jaws. At first, it seems like a lazy comparison as both involve animals gone mad so it’s just easy going that route. However, a few minutes into GRIZZLY and it’s just unavoidable. The most obvious resemblance is the POV shots accompanied by menacing music as the bear is waiting to attack. While movies like this probably received not the best reception upon release, it’s easy to see why they developed cult followings.
I had not seen GRIZZLY before this new Severin release. Honestly, I had only heard of Grizzly 2: Revenge. Revenge is notorious for all the wrong reasons, which means it’s a must-see for horror fans. Not only does it feature early performances from George Clooney, Laura Dern, and Charlie Sheen, but it was not completed until 2020 despite being filmed in 1983. It actually received a home video release earlier this year which makes a great companion to this latest GRIZZLY release.
The plot is fairly simple and familiar: the bodies of two hikers are found, mutilated, and partially buried at a state park. It’s clear that some time of bear is the cause. There are disagreements among all parties involved about how to handle the park and whether or not to close it. The resulting decisions lead to more victims and ultimately coming face to face with the bear.
For the dedicated fanbase, Severin has put together a new 1080p transfer that translates pretty decent to high definition. Grain and damage is easily spotted, but it honestly adds to the charm to a movie like this. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono track is loud and clear. The special features on this release are what the fans will truly love.
Author Stephen Thrower (a familiar face to those who collect these specialty releases) goes into a detailed look at the career of director William Girdler. There are also interviews with actor Tom Arcuragi and actress Joan McCall, but my favorite feature was an interview with producer David Sheldon (McCall is also featured in this interview).
Sheldon delivers one of those candid interviews that makes purchases like these worth it. He goes into great detail about where the concept of GRIZZLY came from and plenty of behind-the-scenes tidbits. One of the more questionable topics is the use of the POV shots which any Jaws fan will recognize. Per Sheldon, this film went into production when Jaws was merely a book and not the blockbuster film everyone knows now. The POV shots were used due to a mechanical bear they built being destroyed in the rain so they went the POV route instead. There’s also plenty of juicy details of lawsuits that occurred due to the profits that weren’t paid out after the film’s financial success. In addition to this are an archival featurette and two commentaries.
Fans of GRIZZLY will be pleased with this new Severin release as there’s plenty to claw their way into. You can acquire the Blu-ray release here!