What creature has terrified man since we first walked the earth? The bear.
The entertainment industry has also long exploited this age-old fear to dramatic effect several times by portraying bears as nearly unstoppable killing machines.
We highlight a few below, and as a bonus, tell you how you should react should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate place of the attack victim. Warning: contains some NSFW language and violence.
1. The Bear (1988)
Beginning at the 1:14 mark, a hunter is cornered by a giant Kodiak, and can only cower in fear as the animal tries to reach him.
While the scene here seems to suggest the bear spares the man in an act of mercy, real bears have no such sympathy. Most experts agree that if a bear is within close range and approaching you, you should stand your ground and not look frightened. You should try and back away, but do not run or show vulnerability, which the hunter here fails miserably. However, if a bear does charge you, a fetal position like he displays can help protect you.
2. The Edge (1997)
Having crashed in the wilderness, a billionaire and his companions are set upon a murderous grizzly at the 2:25 mark, who seizes their injured friend after he is attracted to his blood.
Bears are definitely attracted to food, but not necessarily human blood, as this scene suggests. Furthermore, when real-life bears attack, it is because they’re threatened, not because they think they’ve scored an easy meal. Again, the victim’s best option is to cover their neck and curl up, but if the bear won’t stop attacking, it may be necessary to try and fight the bear off with whatever weapon is available.
3. The Great Outdoors (1988)
In this scene, a bear with a vendetta chases after John Candy’s character, breaking down his door and pursuing him into his cabin.
While real-life bears don’t seek revenge, it’s still a good idea to ensure any cabin in the wilderness is sufficiently bear-proof. In this scene, a shotgun manages to scare off the bear, and in a real worst-case scenario like a bear cornering you in your cabin, a powerful weapon can also be a great last ditch means of survival.
4. Brother Bear (2003)
A young aspiring warrior, blaming a bear for the death of his brother, pursues the animal across the wilderness and is attacked in return.
We shouldn’t have to tell you that chasing a bear, in particular armed with nothing but a spear, isn’t a good idea. To be fair, the movie later explains the bear was acting in self-defense against the aggressions of the main character. In any real encounter with a bear, it’s important not to unnecessarily attack or provoke the animal. Bears have a strong sense of personal space and will quickly attack if they feel it is necessary.
5. The Fox and the Hound (1981)
In this animated classic, a hunter and his loyal dog stumble upon an angry bear while pursuing a fox.
Since the bear seems to be intent on attacking the hunter from the get-go, it’s only natural that he attempts to defend himself with his shotgun, although he would’ve been better prepared for hunting in the backcountry by carrying pepper spray, especially since he was such poor aim with the gun in a time of need. While his dog leaps to defend him, the hunter could’ve perhaps avoided the situation entirely by slowly backing way, traveling in a large group, and avoiding a low visibility area where he was unaware of his surroundings.
6. Furry Vengeance (2010)
As one of many supposedly-wacky man-vs-nature moments in this children’s movie, a bear attacks an encroaching real estate developer.
Right of the bat, Brendan Fraser’s character makes the ultimate mistake by showing fear and running from the bear, which while intended as comical, can provoke a bear to chase you where it might’ve otherwise backed away. Barring that, he’s wise to try and seek shelter in a permanent building, although his backup choice of a portable toilet is terrible. While he screams in terror and disgust, keeping as quiet as possible is often the key to stopping a bear attack.
7. Man in the Wilderness (1971)
Beginning at the 50 second mark, a hunter quickly becomes the hunted as a bear he is pursuing gets the drop on him.
This hunter makes a lot of common mistakes in Hollywood bear attacks, like being unaware of his surroundings and not protecting himself during a bear mauling, although he does an admirable job of defending himself when things look desperate. In particular his attempt to climb the tree was ill-advised, as bears are usually excellent climbers and can pursue you. Climbing a tree is only a good option if you are confident you can get at least 15 feet high and are being chased by a relatively poor climber like the grizzly bear.
8. Grizzly (2014)
This upcoming movie appears to display the classic and harmful Hollywood image of the serial killer bear, actively pursuing human victims.
First off, if you’re going logging, don’t do it at night, safety from bears being the least of your concerns. The characters in this movie have at least the wisdom to travel in groups in bear country, but this seems only so that they can be picked off one by one like in any horror movie. To pick out one incident from the trailer, don’t cower in fear and stare a bear in the face like the woman at the end appears to be be doing.
9. Grizzly (1976)
Beginning at the 11:30 mark, a grizzly stalks and kills a couple of campers in a National Park.
While this bear seems to be killing purely on murderous rage, the camper who survived the attack should’ve stood her ground and waved her arms to attempt to scare the bear off. While her face doesn’t seem to show much emotion at all, she does the classic movie mistake of running from the bear.
10. Anchorman (2004)
Just for fun, here’s the worst possible case of how to handle a confrontation with a bear. We respect our readers too much to explain why this a bad idea.
Admittedly, if every character was a competent outdoorsman who always made good decisions in dire situations, movies with bear attacks would be far less engaging. But sometimes movies can be more than entertainment, they can be an example of what not to do.
Did we forget any great bear attack scenes? What would do you do if attacked by a bear? Tell us in the comments.