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Grizzly II: Revenge (1983), Starring George Clooney & Laura Dern (Review)

Grizzly II: Revenge (1983), Starring George Clooney & Laura Dern (Review)
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PLOT: Following the death of its loved ones, a vengeful Grizzly Bear wreaks gory havoc at a remote rock concert set inside a National park.

REVIEW: And the winner for the most venally gratuitous reclamation projects in the history of Hollywood horror goes to…Grizzly II: Revenge (WATCH IT HERE / OWN IT HERE), a lost relic from 1983 that has been needlessly excavated by Suzanne Nagy for no other reason than to shamelessly capitalize on the brand names of such pre-famous movie stars as George Clooney, Charlie Sheen, and Laura Dern. Let’s be upfront and real: these three actors only appear in the first five minutes of the film, yet they take top billing in this alleged long-lost curio completed 37 years after production was shut down by the Hungarian government. If, like I was, you’re one of the people who’d heard about this movie for years and always had a modicum of fascination in seeing what became of it, you will be extremely let down by how little time the three aforesaid actors have in the film. Unfortunately, what’s left is even more disappointing, as the sub-70-minute runtime offers far more unintentional humor than intentional terror to go with its embarrassing patchwork of mismatched visuals, badly dubbed dialogue, easily spottable new footage spliced with old, and an overall air of rank amateurism across the board. Straight up, Grizzly II: Revenge was abandoned and left for dead nearly 40 years ago for a reason. Watch at your own peril when the flick drops on VOD Friday, January 8, 2021.

Since the film shamelessly uses Clooney, Dern, and Sheen’s names to sell itself, it’s only right we tell you that they all die in the first five minutes. Clooney and Dern hike up a mountain and into a cave and strip down to hop in a sleeping bag before being ripped to shreds off-screen. Sheen, who stumbles on the grisly aftermath, apparently escapes but is never seen again in the entire film. This is a bold and brazen form of false advertising not seen since the likes of the halcyon Grindhouse days. With a nature montage of stock footage pulled right from the Discovery Channel (in 4K resolution no less, which is wildly mismatched with the 1983 film stock), the plot careens forward to introduce Elieen Draygon (Louise Fletcher, the third Oscar-winner in the cast), a woman organizing a giant rock concert in the woods of a National Park. After hearing of a massive Grizzly bear killing folks in the area, Elieen turns to French poacher Bouchard (John Rhys-Davies) to secure the park before more blood is shed. Coming along to help are park ranger Nick (Steve Inwood), wildlife expert Samantha (Deborah Raffin), and teenage concertgoer Chrissy (Deborah Foreman), but even their efforts are little match for a hulking Grizzly out for human flesh, blood, and bone.

The original Grizzly (1976) was panned for being a blatant JAWS knockoff, so it only makes sense that Jaws The Revenge returned the favor by cribbing its legendarily ludicrous premise from this film. Grizzly II was filmed on a Russian military base in Budapest, Hungary in 1983. Production was halted by the Hungarian government when the film company failed to pay its equipment costs. The Canon Group bought the film in 1987 with plans to complete it, but the project fall apart when the company went into financial ruin. Mix in a failed animatronic bear and second-unit director who suffered a nervous breakdown on set (while filming the massive concert scenes), not to mention a departed Vilmos Zsigmond (Oscar-winning DP on Close Encounter of the Third Kind) over creative differences, you can see what a colossal debacle the film was from the onset and what major hurdles Nagy had to overcome to make the film even remotely watchable, much less intelligible.

In terms of the terror, nothing about the giant killer bear is bound to raise a single hair on any viewer at any time, anywhere. Most of the violence is inflicted off-screen and out of sight, and often the bear is framed in a close-up, growling by itself. As such, the only real reason to watch this film, if any, is to deliberately laugh at and poke fun at all of the painfully outdated 80s concert songs and concomitant fashion statements. The other reason to see the film is to point out all the glaring stints where new footage is integrated with the old, going from blurry 1980s resolution in one shot to crisp 4K visuals in the next. The result is like watching a shoddy patchwork of incongruous imagery akin to Kentucky Fried Movie or Amazon Women on the Moon, without the dripping irony. Worse, with its lack of scares and its cheap attempt to monetize on the names of the top-billed actors, the film gives a bad name to the killer-bear subgenre propped up by such superior titles as Razorback and The Edge.

All told, Grizzly II: Revenge was neither worth the time and effort to complete, nor worth your time in watching the poor result. The film is falsely billed as something else entirely and only meant to retroactively exploit the famous names attached to it at the time. Clooney, Dern, and Sheen do not star in the film as much as they make quick opening scene cameos, and everything afterward still feels cheap, derivative, nonthreatening, and incomplete. Even as a lame gimmick to deliberately mock with a so-bad-it-needs-to-be-seen perspective, Grizzly II is a pile of piddling poo!

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