Monday, October 06, 2014

GRIZZLY (1976) - William Girdler &
WENDIGO (2001) - Larry Fessenden

Grizzly is a mildly enjoyable, unapologetic Jaws-on-land cash-in. The bear in question is not that scary (obviously a domesticated chap), and the attacks are edited in such a way that it's obvious he's 20 to 30 yards from endangering anyone in real life. Lots of looped growling and long lens paw swiping at the camera. There's one gruesome kiddie kill that caught me by surprise (see below). Other than that, the most enjoyable thing about this '70s creature feature was Christopher George (Enter the Ninja, The Exterminator) as a very put-upon park ranger. The shouting matches he gets into with his supervisor offered more than a few choice quotes.

2001's indie cheapie Wendigo may not be a rip-off of any specific movie, but I'm pretty sure it's the first of its kind to center entirely around the shape-shifting mystery creature of Native American lore. It seems to have taken one too many lessons from its blockbuster Blair Witch cousin two years prior though...namely, "tell, don't show." There's very little Wendigo in Wendigo. A couple blurry flashes here and there. A fast tracking POV moving through the woods with occasional branch-like feelers attached to the end. Actually, there's not that much talk of a Wendigo other than the token Native American in a pawn shop. He tells the troubled child of a NYC family vacationing upstate about the beast, then gives him a whittled action figure of same before-- poof! He's gone.

For a low budget horror flick, there's some good acting and believable family dynamics thanks to Patricia Clarkson and Jake Weber. Fessenden can be an interesting director, though I preferred his sort-of vampire tale Habit much more.

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