A crazy bear on the loose in the wilderness causes chaos amongst hill walkers and campers alike. That’s a pitch I’d like to hear across the table of any production team. One line tells it exactly as it is. ‘a crazed bear’ I hear you say. ‘what does it do?’ well, let’s start with the massacre of girls putting up a tent. Limbs fly! Hunters get some too, a woman in a bikini taking some time out in a waterfall; she gets it. A child petting a white rabbit, his mother too! A horse gets it’s head ripped off! OK, I think the pitch has gone well, ‘but how does it end?’ How about a showdown, bear vs whirlybird? Pilot (Prine) takes on the bear with the butt end of a rifle. That was a bad idea. His companion pulls out a portable canon! OK, I’m not saying any more about the plot, but I think you get the picture.
It’s a strange one. A 70’s masterpiece, film stock like Lassy with loads of gore. At first look, it resembles a Sunday afternoon filler, until the attacks start and this stuff you will never get to see on BBC2 before the watershed. The child murder is grim. The horses head scene is shocking. Only this and The Godfather come to mind when thinking of decapitated horses.
William Girdler directs this tale of wilderness carnage, famous for ‘Asylum of Satan’ and ‘3 on a Meathook’ to name just a few. It’s a sympathetic journey questioning who is the real villain here, with drunk hicks destroying the great outdoors, the 18ft tall Bear has every right to take revenge. Girdler took this idea to the next level with his hit the following year, ‘Day of the Animals.’ But Andrew Prine must take praise for his role as the tourist pilot who meets the bear face to face in the final climactic stages of this rare stunner.