Is 'Cocaine Bear' a True Story? Horror Fans Need to Read What Inspired the New Movie

cocaine bear true story
Is 'Cocaine Bear' a True Story?Universal
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In the age of horror movies, fans enjoy seeing unique spins on the heart-pumping genre. Plus, with hits like Knock at the Cabin, it can at times feel like these kinds of films must have a fictional premise in order for them to succeed. Well, one such title is choosing to push the envelope on classic tropes, and that is the recently released Cocaine Bear.

Produced and directed by Elizabeth Banks, Cocaine Bear follows an American black bear that ingests cocaine after its accidentally airdropped in Georgia's wilderness. As a result, the animal goes on a drug-induced rampage through a neighboring small town and a ragtag group decides to band together to not just survive the destruction the mammal leaves in its wake, but to collect the leftover stash too.

The premise of the movie seems so out there that it sounds like it came from a fiction novel. What's more, a group of famous faces show up in it, like Keri Russell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and the late Ray Liotta in one of his final films before his death in May 2022. But contrary to popular belief, the events of Cocaine Bear is based on real-life events. In fact, the true story actually spans back four decades.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Cocaine Bear was inspired by a true encounter in Blue Ridge, Georgia, in December 1985. At the time, a group of investigators were attempting to find drugs stolen by an airborne smuggler within the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. After an initial search, only two of three bags were found. The last one wasn't ever recovered.

In a twist, the police discovered 40 packages of cocaine ripped up in the territory, with each individual piece reportedly holding one kilogram. The outlet further reported that the amount of drugs found at the time was worth what would've been $20 million worth of product.

But that wasn't all. An Associated Press article added that they found a black bear dead as well. What's more, officials believed that the cause of death was from eating "several million dollars worth of the cocaine."

"The bear got to it before we could, and he tore the duffel bag open, got him some cocaine and [overdosed]," Gary Garner of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told the outlet.

As for exactly how 40 packages of cocaine ended up in a Georgia forest, the Knoxville News Sentinel noted that investigators found the body of convicted drug smuggler Andrew Thornton three months prior in Knoxville, Tennessee. When the police discovered his remains, they also learned he had 77 pounds of cocaine attached to his waist as well. According to AP, authorities had reason to suspect that he fell to his death because "he was carrying too heavy a load [of narcotics] while parachuting."

Despite the wild origins of the Cocaine Bear, the movie may not fully align with all the real-life details. As Insider reported, both Elizabeth and film writer James Warden used the story as a means to create a gorier version of events. So, it's important to remember that although the flick is inspired by a real-life situation, not all of it is true.

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