Friday, May 20, 2011

Superbear smackdown!

The Contenders

The bear from Grizzly (1976): A 15-foot, one-ton grizzly wandering outside its normal territory during a national park's busy post-season The bear from Prophecy (1979): A large animal mutated by mercury poisoning, wreaking havoc in the forest near a toxin-spewing paper mill
The location
An unnamed national park somewhere in the contiguous United States The deep woods of Maine
What makes it a monster
It's larger and stronger than the average griz, able to swat the head off a horse with one easy swipe. Unlike other grizzlies, this one hunts — and eats — people. A freak of nature created by the reckless pollution of its once-pristine environment, this grotesque creature walks and runs upright and can snap the head clean off a man with one bite of its massive jaws.
Method of attack
Grizzly stalks its prey in point-of-view shots, bursts out of woods or through shelter walls to batter victims with limb-severing force, then finishes with a deadly bear hug. Prophecy Bear forecasts its attack with heavy breathing, then surprises victims by breaking through trees, cabin walls, or the water's surface. It kills by hitting and biting.
Body count
8 people, 1 bear cub, and 1 horse dead; 1 person maimed 14 people and 1 dog dead
Gore factor
Victims' limbs are bloodily severed, a horse loses its head, human victims are dragged and shaken violently, and one spurts blood from the mouth while being squeezed to death. A couple victims get badly mangled in the face (one loses his head), but it's the bear's disfigured face and body, as well as the sight and sound of its mutant offspring, that are most repellent.
The hunter
Park ranger Michael Kelly EPA hired hand Robert Verne, MD
How it's killed
After absorbing several rifle shots, the big bear is brought down by nothing less than a shot from a bazooka, which blows it to bloody bits in a fiery explosion. The mutant beast is shot several times by rifle and bow, though it's the relentless stabbing in the eye by arrow-wielding Verne that finally does it in.
Judge's decision
It's tempting to declare the gruesome Prophecy Bear the winner on looks alone, for Grizzly, despite its ferocity, still looks like a big cuddly bear. But PB is an environmental avenger, and there is a sympathetic righteousness to its violence in defense of its home, its cubs, and its right to live free of industrial contaminants. Plus, it's killed by a city-slick MD using nothing more than a pointy stick. Grizzly kills for no reason but sport and snacks, and it takes a manly park ranger with an anti-tank weapon to bring him down. Winner: Grizzly.


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