Promotional advertising for the movie Cocaine Bear is plastered all over Hollywood (there should be lines around the block). That means it’s good, right? Actually, the movie is getting great word of mouth despite its histrionic title. And that means there might be a trend of more “when animals attack” in the future.
However, let’s live in the past for a few minutes and take some time to appreciate the killer bear movies that came before it. From full-on horror tales of nature’s fury, to action-adventure films that don’t flinch, to the campy environmental message movies even Greta Thunberg would smile at, these cinematic offerings deserve a place on your watchlist.
The Jaws rip-off trend of the 70s started with this one, but don’t let its age fool you. It is a relic, but director William Girdler had some pretty big box office shoes to fill after Spielberg’s masterpiece was released in the summer of 1975. He did…okay.
Although this film doesn’t even compare to the genius of Jaws, it has its moments. Interestingly there is a helicopter attack scene, and we can’t prove this, but maybe the writer of Jaws 2 took that concept a bit further and used it in his screenplay.
One of the most terrifying bear attack scenes ever put on film. Based on true events the grand scale of this adventure movie is to be applauded. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s relentless story of betrayal and survival is unnerving and Leonardo DiCaprio once again proves he doesn’t suffer from the child-actor curse.
A couple is pursued by a black bear in this sleeper from 2014. Another film inspired by “true events” Back Country got great reviews when it first came out. Director Adam McDonald treated this movie more like a slasher than a thriller. That tracks because he went on to direct the series Slasher: Flesh and Blood in 2016.
Mutant bear stalking some hapless government researchers in the woods? Take my money! However, this environmental cautionary tale wasn’t good then and it’s not as good now, but one can appreciate the campiness and balls it took to make it. The talent alone makes one question why this movie isn’t as good as it should be. We have the legendary John Frankenheimer behind the camera with Talia Shire, fresh off her Rocky success as our final girl. It was released at a time when horror movies were king at the box office and it was promoted as the next big one. Prophecy definitely has its moments, but they are few and far between. Still, it’s worth a watch, and if anything, you can relish in the big-scale failure that should have been better than it is.
Stephen King had an idea: trap a family in a car and have a rabid St. Bernard attack them. The makers of Bear had the same idea, only replace the family with friends and instead of a dog, make it a bear. This is the Cujo of bear movies. Roel Reiné directed this film and maybe knowing what other films he’s done will intrigue you enough to watch this one. He was behind the camera for Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, Death Race 2, and the TV series Black Sails. More recently he brought Master Chief to television with Halo. Perhaps none of these soft-budget examples thrill you but imagine what he can do when the action is left at one location? Not bad.
Into The Grizzly Maze (2015)
A family drama between two brothers is set inside the labyrinth of the title. But the tensions between them are nothing compared to the behemoth of an animal who wants them dead. Saw V director David Hackl takes viewers on a nail-biting journey through the woods. Although some logic is lost behind a clunky screenplay, there is still plenty to enjoy here as James Mardsen and Thomas Jane, with guns blazing, take on a freak of nature.
The Edge (1997)
This is a bloody cat-and-mouse survival story starring Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, and a Kodiak Bear. Sexy thrillers were all the rage in the 90s. Perhaps to capitalize off of that, filmmakers wanted to create a story about betrayal by infidelity set in the harsh environment of the Alaskan wilderness. There is a plot twist, but it’s dull compared to the action Lee Tamahori has in store. The director knows how to make pulses race on both small and big budgets. He helmed Die Another Day, Next, starring Nic Cage, and Ice Cube in xXx State of the Union.
Like Prophecy, Annihilation is another of the mutant bear classics. Although this sci-fi masterwork doesn’t rely solely on a bear as a centerpiece, there is that one nerve-grinding scene we will post below that qualifies it as one you should watch. In fact, pull up your favorite VOD medium and rent this unsettling film now.
Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey (2023)
Need we say more?