In honor of Shark Week, I feel compelled to pick a killer-animal-on-the-loose flick for our second installment of Knockoffs. A year after Jaws set the standard for the genre, 28-year-old William Girdler made Grizzly, which rather shamelessly presented itself as a ursine-centric alterative to Steven Spielberg’s box-office hit. When one of your movie’s taglines is “The Most Dangerous Jaws on Land,” you’re obviously assuming that your audience will equate imitation with flattery.
Like all memorable knockoffs, Grizzly attempts to one-up is inspiration by ratcheting up the absurdity a notch. In Jaws, the shark of the title is eventually done in by the puncturing of a tank of compressed air. Girdler “improves” upon that finale by resorting to a favorite Microkhan trope: unnecessary rocket launcher use. (See also here and here.) The video above is all cued up to that glorious man-versus-beast confrontation, so just hit play and enjoy. And try to freeze the clip right at the 3:19 mark—the impact special effect is a wonder to behold.
A sad coda, though: Girdler died just two years later, while scouting film locations in the Philippines. He was working on yet another knockoff at the time, a Star Wars imitator that would have been called The Overlords (link SFW despite warning).