Jaws (1975) Grizzly (1976) & Claws (1977)

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Jaws (1975) Grizzly (1976) & Claws (1977)

Post  BoG on Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:22 pm


Fathom Events wrote:Dare to relive the terrifying masterpiece? Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment invite you to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the one of the most popular American thrillers of all time when Jaws (1975) returns to select cinemas nationwide for a special two-day only event on Sunday, June 21 and Wednesday, June 24 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time.

It's a hot summer on Amity Island, a small community whose main business is its beaches. When new Sheriff Martin Brody discovers the remains of a shark attack victim, his first inclination is to close the beaches to swimmers. This doesn't sit well with Mayor Larry Vaughn and several of the local businessmen. Brody backs down to his regret as that weekend a young boy is killed by the predator. The dead boy's mother puts out a bounty on the shark and Amity is soon swamped with amateur hunters and fisherman hoping to cash in on the reward. A local fisherman with much experience hunting sharks, Quint, offers to hunt down the creature for a hefty fee. Soon Quint, Brody and Matt Hooper from the Oceanographic Institute are at sea hunting the Great White shark. As Brody succinctly surmises after their first encounter with the creature, they're going to need a bigger boat.
Yessir, 40 years ago, Spielberg brought some edge to this tale of fear and a shark which seemed like much more than just a Great White by the end of the film. One could suppose that this was a monster mutated or affected somehow by unknown forces but, like Hitchcock's The Birds, there is no explanation for its preternatural movements. This was the first summer blockbuster and became the biggest grosser until Star Wars supplanted it a couple of years later. Followed by sequels in 1978, 1983 and 1987. The first one is by far the best. BoG's Score: 9 out of 10

Movies about killer bears are more horror than sci-fi, but this one - a cash-in on Jaws - resembles the many eco-terror films of the seventies (such as Day of the Animals, which followed this a year later with two of the same lead actors), which have sci-fi elements. In this case, the grizzly bear was marketed as extra huge on the poster (18 feet tall), suggesting some kind of aberrant mutant strain; it was closer to 15 feet tall in the actual film story. It also seems quite resistant to gunfire and possesses the power to lop off a horse's head with one swipe - these instances plunge the tale into an alternate reality, if ever so slightly.

Christopher George stars as the head park ranger, in a contentious relationship with the park's manager (Joe Dorsey). Andrew Prine plays a helicopter pilot and George's buddy. George's other buddy is a naturalist (Richard Jaeckel) who likes to hang out in the woods, spying on deer. It's these three gents who eventually are tasked with getting rid of the bear (one of the many plot similarities to Jaws). George is also friendly with the park owner's daughter (Joan McCall), who is also a nosy photographer. The early victims are park campers, but soon after, park rangers also fall victim to the beast (mostly due to stupidity). My favorite scene is when Prine relates a story to Jaeckel about some bears and Indians. BoG's Score: 5.5 out of 10  Arrow  entry at Kindertrauma: Also similar to this is Prophecy (79), which had a truly mutated grizzly bear. And, there's nothing very new about the concept despite the clever marketing; a decade earlier, there was Night of the Grizzly, starring Clint Walker.

Grisly Trivia: director William Girdler was a young up-and-coming director whose own fear was about a premonition of him dying young; this indeed happened only a few years after Grizzly opened, on a scouting trip in the Philippines for his latest film, when he was killed in a helicopter accident/explosion, in 1980; he was only 30; a more comical version of this film was put out on DVD-Rs, called Grizzly Killer Edition, which inserts stupid sound effects, a goofy extra character and more bloody inserts during the death scenes; it also plays off the hostility between the park ranger & the manager to amusing effect. A sequel was filmed in the early eighties but post-production on this was never completed because the producer ran off with the money. It has very early roles for George Clooney & Charlie Sheen; it was finally completed in 1987 and re-titled Grizzly II:The Concert (due to new concert footage); it still was never released.
Claws (1977) is another killer grizzly bear film which was re-released as Grizzly 2 to capitalize on the actual Grizzly film, but has no real relation to it.
Bearish Trivia: another killer bear film more grounded in reality was released in 1997 - titled The Edge, starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin as two stranded men being chased around the woods by a man-eating bear (played by the famous  Bart the Bear).
The same year as Claws, 1977, we got bigger Jaws and this poster ad on the backs of comic books:
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