Ah yes, the forbidden bear. The Clooney-Dern-Sheen triplette one.
As previously said, since Grizzly was a big success bringing lots of moolah, a sequel was kinda inevitable eventually… emphasis on the eventually, because while in 1983 Grizzly II (subtitled “The Concert”) was shot in Hungary, the movie spent the following 37 years in post-production hell, eventually premiering in 2020 at various festivals and being released on VOD (and home video) in 2021.
Intriguingly, this didn’t stop people from getting a hold of Grizzly II, as bootleg copies of the unfinished workprint were made and in 2007 the VHS were ripped online, eventually leading (among others things) to Brad Jones covering the title on his “Cinema Snob” webseries, and then being hit with treats of legal action by the movie co-producer, the aptly named Suzanne C. Nagy.
As unofficial as the workprint copies circulating were, they also corroborated how badly the production was handled, not only with the movie being shot in Hungary because it was/is cheaper (a common low budget film ploy, as we learned) that way, the principal producer leaving after the first day of shooting and the lack of funding to continue, forcing Suzanne C. Nagy, the co-producer, to procure an investor so they cold finish the main photography, managing to do such… only to learn the original producer, Joseph Ford Proctor, was arrested for a unrelated case of tax fraud.
Peeking through the workprint also showed that the movie was not THAT incomplete, as in there was clearly post-production to do, especially having to shoot the scenes where the bear is attacking and retool the finale. Clearly it was an unfinished product, and it was never officially released (plus all the licensed music present in the workprint pretty much guaranteed it would never release in that state), so there’s a limit to what can be said, since – again – it was a bootleg of the work print.
So let’s not discuss that, but the final released version of Grizzly II, now “Grizzly II: The Revenge”, which is the typical “in name only” sequel to a killer animal b-movie, surprising that there’s at least David Sheldon (co-writer and co-director of the first Grizzly) involved for the screenplay to provide the only link, but as expected the plot doesn’t follow directly from Grizzly, being instead about another killer bear in a National Park, this time Yellowstone, with a giant mother grizzly that seeks revenge for her cub, shot by poachers, by taking it out on anyone that wanders into the woods, including masses of people that have set up tents there to enjoy a rock concert.
Like the first one, the marketing leaned heavily on the “everyone is in it” factor, at least in retrospect, since it advertized having then fairly unknown actors like George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen… which are in the movie, but they have a very small minor roles, so that’s indeed some old fashion pre-internet clickbait bullshit.
Classic bait and switch.
In a way, it would have been better if the movie wasn’t released as this point, after decades of b-movie legend and infamy, because all the mystique dies with an official release that’s willing to present this thing as a finished film, and there are also the obvious problems that were always gonna rear their head in a way or another, after the 1983 shot footage languished for decades.
So i guess they went with the “fuck it!” approach, because the prologue is made up of obviously very recently shot – on a budget – footage of animals existing, a poacher telling the editor to add a “magical digital bullet” so it looked like he shot a bear cub from the “new stock footage”, before he shots the hilarious bad looking mother grizzly that somehow feels like a IA animated animatronic rushjob, somehow. And is of course reused like the nature documentary new footage.
Then we transition into the 1983 footage of Clooney, Sheen and Dern wandering into bear territory, and yes, they made no effort to even match the newly shot footage with the old one, at all, not that it was ever gonna work if the footage wasn’t also shot around that time, but you know..
Especially when you are still gonna use newly recorded extablishing shots, which seems unnecessary since you could edit around most of them anyway, and it’s by pure random chance that in some occasions the lighting sometimes just matches, which is even more odd as the new footage is mostly “lo-fi nature documentary”, but even when it isn’t it kinda sticks out anyway to a degree.
On the other hand, they did put effort into restoring the old footage, which looks very good and crisp, WAY better than those old bootleg VHS rips, undeniably so, the swapped soundtrack with different music from the one that they obviously were never gonna affor…is ok, as is the slightly better edited finale… though it’s still ass as they can’t shoot new footage of the bear interacting with the actors or more importantly the grizzly having some extra serving of concert goers.
Honestly, if you were to watch Grizzly II in its official released cut/form…. i’d still STRONGLY consider against it, because Suzanne Nagy (which has been acting as the main person to contact and refer to about Grizzly II since she took over) has been treating people that covered or even dared to watch the film on Youtube before like war criminals, ignoring fair use, abusing content ID on Youtube, so as far as i’m concerned i’d just take a walk down the river beds if you really want some frankensteined grizzly film from the grave, instead of supporting her for burning all the goodwill anyone had shown the movie over the years of antagonizing the community.
Yeah, the movie is officially released now, the image quality it’s pretty good, but it’s far from complete, and while there were limits to what could have been done to fix its issues….. it’s arguably worse than the old workprint leaked in 2007, as it badly edits some of scenes out of their original context (the Clooney-Dern-Sheen scenes, for example in this cut are all lumped together at the beginning) making them meaningless, so scenes that helped establish how big was the grizzly or why it attacked some people to begin are rendered moot.
Again, i can understand some of the old problems were kinda of unfixable due to the insanely troubled production, but fixing the bare mininum and then piling NEW issues on top of the old and still mostly unaddressed (some unaddressable) ones.. it’s unforgivable, like the new, awful, often choppy editing that makes it harder to follow the plot, not that there is much to follow, it’s another Jaws rip-off, logical i guess, and guess what, it’s still a pretty bad b-movie, i don’t care if Suzanne C. Nagy doesn’t wanna hear it, as if being bad was gonna stop people from seeking it out anyway.
In the days of “so bad it’s good” as a type of established content. Come on.
I mean, the original Grizzly film was no masterpiece either, but the committment and acting do make it look like Jaws compared to this “sequel”, which runs the gamut of awful, stupid, unlikeable characters, including the drunkered up poacher hillbillies randomly shooting in the woods, and the “Major from Jaws stand in”, leaving one to root for the bear, as intended i guess, shame the awful pecial effects and footage of bear added to fill in the previously empty slots for jumpscares/bear attacks-reactions… are barely passable, not even in a “so bad it’s a good manner”, despite the fact they also kept the brief moments of the bear suit from the old footage, crammed in in there as well.
This is just a bad, incompetently directed b-movie that can’t really excuse his flaws due to its unbelievably long production history, as it fails in its idea to make you feel bad for the mother grizzly (or that there is really one stalking about), isn’t even high on entertaiment, or shame, as this “in name only” sequel to Grizzly, a Jaws rip-off, had to recourse to literally steal the climax of Jaws 2, with frames of the electrocuted shark mixed with the ones of the electrocuted grizzly.
And btw, even in this reworked version, what should be the best part of the movie, the finale is still ass in some way, with old footage randomly speed up like a Benny Hill gag for 1 minute, and then never again.
Though, given that we’re talking about a movie that in the workprint version struggled to reach 90 minutes and you felt its molass pacing wear on your patience, i’m perfectly okay with this new runtime of 74 minutes.
As in 1 hour and 7 minutes of movie plus credits.
Doesn’t make the drivel better, but more digestible, because this isn’t even a guilty pleasure film, a camp classic shitfest, regardless if it wished to be or not such a thing it’s just a waste of time and a failure that honestly the filler parts with the bands performing were more entertaining than anything that you’re supposed to be caring about the actual narrative or characters.
Having John Rhys-Davies as “Lumberjack Native American Quint” or a triplette of young actors that would become huge names like Clooney, Dern and Sheen isn’t enough to warrant braving this…simply awful, boring, meandering, pointless revenant of a sub-par b-movie that should have been either killed all together or released way earlier than 37 years after it was almost completed, but at least it has now released, so we can hopefully leave this series to rest.
For what it’s worth, i can kinda admire the people involved for not giving up on getting this thing a proper release, the pure stubborness of it.
Though, i’m not exactly saying you should get the movie through illegal means, i’m not, but i’m saying that also nobody bothered to give it a UK DVD release, it’s not streaming officially in my country, so… if you really want to avoid giving Nagy any money but want to add it to your collection, you could just get an used copy of the DVD or Blu-Ray american release, i can understand that much, as a collector of unholy movies or movies-related artifacts.
And this is quite the artifact indeed.