Saturday, July 14, 2018

Grizzly (1976) by Will Collins

Yes, this post is mostly about the novelization.

The movie itself was too mind-numbing for me to sit through. I think I got through the first twenty minutes or so, then started fast-forwarding to try and catch just the bear scenes. Pretty quick, even those weren't holding my attention, so I went ahead and held that FF button down all the way to the film's finale (such as it was), and called it done. 

Now don't get me wrong: the film featured a fine set of actors, and director William Girdler had talent, but for some unaccountable (I've heard so many good things about this movie!) reason the movie itself bored me. To tears. Best thing about the film (as far as I'm concerned) was its associated artwork, so I'm passing along some of that for you to feast your eyes on (click to enlarge--you know the drill):

US Theatrical Poster with amazing Neal Adams artwork....

Turkish Theatrical Poster (I know, right?)

US Lobby Card with cool illustrated sidebars....
And those sidebar blurbs are worth a click-and-enlarge for pure reading enjoyment.

Mexican Lobby Card--this and the Turkish poster both sport bear-art taken from the UK novelization's cover.
Just in case you were wondering....

And finally, an Italian Lobby Card featuring artwork more interesting (to me) than its accompanying film still.

So. Related-artwork-sharing duties now being complete, this would have been an exceptionally short post if not for my having run across a novelization of the movie written by a fellow named Will Collins. And I was all ready to write (*NPI) Will off as a one hit wonder, when I stumbled across the fact that "he" was actually the pseudonym of a more prolific author by the name of Edwin Corley. I haven't read any of his other stuff, but it's out there.

*No Pun Intended

By the way, following that link gets you to Corley's English-language Wikipedia page, which has absolutely no reference (as I write this) to his writing the novel or using the pseudonym. But the French-language Wiki article is much more robust and fills things in nicely. So look it up and do a little translating if you want to know more.

The novelization itself is pretty straightforward, following the movie (or the gist I managed to get of it with my FF button) fairly closely. Writing certainly isn't bad--and it sure as hell held my interest more than its filmic counterpart.

What did I notice about the book, over all?

Let's see... Had a fairly heavy seventies-environmental slant to it. Park Rangers and associated personnel were pretty much presented as saints (with the exception of the Park Administrator, who was the story's Mayor Vaughn), while campers/consumers of National Parks were presented as gratuitous assholes in almost every single case. So somebody (author? editor?) had an agenda going there.

We also get bits of backstory not available through the screenplay, as novelizations are wont to give us, so that's nice. The bear, it is explained, was driven down into human-populated areas by oil drillers (also villainized), plus the beast had busted a tooth and was having trouble getting it's usual prey--thus going for those easy-to-catch hairless bipeds.

The overall effect was to take some of the movie's Bear Villain-vibe, and trade it over onto the Human side of things, making the novel's bear less of a monster than the film went for, and more of a "poor giant bear just doing what it can in order to survive as we humans screw with its habitat and the world in general."

Oh, and it's mentioned this bear is a "throwback" to the prehistoric "Arctodus-Ursus Horribulus" (no such animal as far as Google could tell me), weighing in at 2,000 pounds and standing a whopping fifteen feet in height when it rears up on its hind legs. Or eighteen, if you go by movie poster/novelization cover blurbs. In-novel the height was held to fifteen.

This prehistoric beastie pictured below is clocking in around 11 or 12 feet on hind legs, for comparison purposes. (You're welcome.)

Gut-Crunching Grizzly is half again as big as this fellow?? Yikes!

Well. That's a big bear. And now for even more comparison fun, here's a pic of Hollywood's Bart the Bear (Grizzly's actual bear actor was apparently a Kodiak named Teddy--couldn't find anything on him). Bart here, stood around nine feet high on his hind legs, so Grizzly's Grizzly would have been about twice Bart's height:

I am Bart! Hear me roar!

In fact, I'm being compelled to do a quick and dirty resize of Bart from his natural nine to Grizzly's eighteen feet in height. (Quick and dirty means cropping him out and resizing the image to 200%.)

Is this really what that beast in the movie and novel was supposed to be, size-wise? That's HUGE....

Huh. So I guess everything else--mass, proportions, etc.--being equal, an actual eighteen foot bear would be downright dinosaurian in nature. But jeez, that just looks TOO big, right? Am I missing something with my image-shenanigan-math? Say Bart's trainer is a six footer--Super Bart looks to be about three times Trainer Man's height, so maybe that's about right.... Still, that's SO BIG.

Okay then. By now I've mostly said my piece, so there's not much left to do here but hand you over the novelization covers. My personal copy is the UK version, whose art, as stunning as Neal Adams' American cover is, looks decidedly more bear-like to me than Adams' version does. As in more realistic. Comparatively I guess, as neither really looks terribly bear-like when you get an actual photo of a bear next to them.

But anyway here you go:

US Cover. Anyone else thinking Karloff, with those outstretched arms?
Just me? Boris Bearloff...?

UK Tea-Sipping Gut-Crunching Grizzly

And that's it.

Brain Counts, you ask? Well, the movie would have gotten a big fat ZERO from me, but since this post is mostly about the book, I'm being bookish in regards to my Brain Count and going with:

TWO AND A HALF GUT-CRUNCHING (of course!) BRAINS

Till next time, you can join me at the drive-in, where disaster's a lot of fun! (You caught that on the lobby card up there, right?)