There are quite a few legendary horror films that span the countless decades of the genre, ideally many can name them, however sometimes movies themselves become lost, such as The Redeemer: Son of Satan  or they were left undone as was Alfred Hitchcock’s final movie Kaleidoscope. In a similar fashion this production Grizzly II, and while the story or plot is the primary focus of a review, the background story is the main focal point. Likely you’ve either never heard of it prior this review, or the film now released (I did, even had seen a bootleg edit/workprint of it on YouTube), but rare if you’ve seen it, until now a bizarre plot and stranger the fiction real story of how a Hungarian caterer rewrote the script. Interested?
Let’s understand how it all began, back in 1976 the first Grizzly was released by William Girdler, the movie was considered by many as rip-off of Jaws , though Universal had filed a lawsuit it was dismissed because William’s movie didn’t violate copyrights. The film was a sleeper hit earning over $39 million the most of any independent production until Halloween  and resulted in movie-in-book, multiple sized posters and a mighty cult following (it was the first horror film I saw by myself) and opened the floodgates to countless animal attack movies. Then in 1979 the talk of a sequel started, with David Sheldon serving as director, who had previous co-written and co-produced the first movie, assisted by his wife Joan McCall with a producing team of Edward L. Montoro of Film Ventures International to film in Canada, but the plans fell apart prior to filming. Then financier Joseph Proctor stepped in, and David agreed to finish the script under the condition that he would direct, they agreed, and meanwhile he partnered with Suzanne Nagy to film in her home country of Hungary, because of cheaper costs and less regulations. André Szöts, a local director with a much limited resume, hired as director his feature debut, David wasn’t informed until much later. Then then script went through significant changes throughout the production and the simplistic choice for such a major undertaking was the caterer. In 1983, filming commenced first under the titled of The Predator and then later changed to Grizzly II: The Concert, with all crew and cast in place, after the first day of full shooting, a major problem arose, Proctor disappeared along with all monies, not informing anyone, leaving the bank accounts empty. Another unnamed investor came aboard to help the dying film but abandoned it after learning it still needed post-production work. While Suzanne was able to keep hold of the film the government of Hungary seized all film equipment for the non-payment of bills. Then in 1987, The Cannon Group bought the film and planned the post-production work before a release in 1988; however, the dreaded financial problems crept up once more and ended that hope the rights reverted back to Nagy. Oh, Proctor was later caught on another matter of tax fraud sentenced to prison. She allowed the bootleg version to stay up on YouTube allowing interest to grow about this lost film, understanding that 37-years later the consistency and practically all lost, and a few stock footage scenes added in, with questionable CGI work newly added. The best aspect is it contains three major stars George Clooney, Laura Dern, and Charlie Sheen present for about 5-minutes all together. An interesting side note of the Grizzly films, both had financial problems, Montoro kept the profits and didn’t pay the director, writers or producers and was successfully sued; in 1984 he vanished without a trace after a massive embalmment scandal and divorce.
The movie starts with a series of stock footage moments, and a hunter stalking carrying archery equipment, a few more stock images of bear cubs playing, another climbing a tree, and back to the hunter, who now changed, no gloves and has a rifle. I know most wouldn’t catch or care about something so minor, but if you’re adding stock footage wouldn’t you want something so easy to fix to have some accuracy, regardless we have poor CGI of the bullet travel across the screen and impacting two different bears. Then the title card appears and hard cut to a trio of hikers headed by lovers Ron (George Clooney (Return to Horror High )) and Tina (Laura Dern (Jurassic Park )), tagging along is Lance (Charlie Sheen (The Wraith )); their scene was originally slotted about midway through the movie, but moved to earliest frames possible. Ron and Tina part-take in a cover romance scene before the bear makes it a threesome in a bloody rage; Lance learns the hard way that one can’t outrun a bear, especially a grizzly. That bear is on the warpath in revenge of her killed cub (although the bears shot weren’t cubs) in Summit National Park, by a group of poachers that involved Jack Starrett (Race With the Devil ), Charles Cyphers (The Fog ), and Marc Alaimo. Their reason for killing (gonna love this) selling bear organs to aphrodisiac merchants in San Fran (really!). Meanwhile Park ranger Nick Hollister (Steve Inwood (Almost Dead )) is working to get his rangers to balance their work for an upcoming rock concert for park manager Ms. Draygon (Louise Fletcher (The Exorcist II: The Heretic )). As the death count spirals upward, Nick and second in-charge Pete (Edward Meeks) wants to cancel the concert, but Draygon insists it must go one without problems and the Director of Bear Management Samantha (Deborah Raffin (The Sentinel [1977)) wants it captured and tranquilized. However, the bear has a different agenda and continues a killing spree, hence Nick hires his version of a Quint to employ the lousy accent of French-Canadian Bouchard (John Rhys-Davies (Waxwork )) to hunt this beast, which he calls a “Great Manitou” (this might be consider a joke for the Girdler fans only, in reference to his film The Manitou ). Throughout this entire movie the dialogue is awful, very choppy however it all can’t be laid at the hands of the original writers as no one is sure where, when or how the caterer rewrote of the multiple scenes. Oh, by the way, there’s an unusual scene between Nick and his daughter Chrissy (Deborah Foreman (April Fool’s Day )). By the end, the bear makes a backstage appearance, causing mayhem, death, and an inferno of destruction, but sadly it doesn’t appear marvelous on the screen. For all the scenes involving the bear or hunting it, there’s more dedication given to set-up of stage, rehearsals even a cameo by Barbie Wilde (Hellbound: Hellraiser II ) as a drummer in a band called Predator. The audience of fans supposedly paid $5 to attend for the concert and were unaware that they actually be a backdrop of extras for the climax of the film, nor was the band Nazareth.
Ugh, where to begin with the problems, well similar the shark in Jaws the animatronic bear created by Nick Maley kept malfunctioning and hence barely seen in the film, therefore many kills had cutaway scenes that consisted of a person screaming and the carcass remains. Then a miss alignment of some individuals talking and the words not matching to their mouths. The concert was real, with actual bands that had plenty of forgettable music the background action that occurs to the fans they thought it was part of the show’s pyrotechnical skills; one can’t omit the skill Nagy deployed to pull it off even at a former Russian army base, and that concert in a rural rea, would never have permit approval in the United States due to environmental regulations and insurance concerns. According to Nagy about 20% of the film consists of new footage, and while it’s obvious it’s nice that the executive producer attempts to smooth out problematic scenes, thereby adding grainy appearance with mainly nature stock footage for the b-movie.
It’s a far fall from the original Grizzly movie, the long-lost movie restores in a ‘sort-of’ manner, some wonder if it should resurface as a documentary rather than just a lame movie. Clooney doesn’t hide in fear of it, neither do the others, Sheen even earned his SAG card for it, therefore perhaps a missed opportunity. In addition, it is often stated in other summaries and reviews about this film that it was Clooney’s big screen debut, sorry that is incorrect, it actually was the drama, romance And They’re Off (1982). The obscure title experienced a rebirth with acceptance to film festivals and limited release in theaters, and there’s discussion for a part 3. Overall, the movie is the product of its time, from music, fashion, and troublesome production hinders the full entertainment; while its bland in some areas, and the plot is confusing not much of a bear movie as its concert prepping flick, but still shows the dedication of a filmmaker to deliver the goods.
- Giant Killer Grizzly Attacks Massive Rock Concert.
- The National Forest is No Longer Safe
- The Stage Is Set… And The Dinner Is Served.
IMDb Rating: 3.4/10
Baron’s Rating: 3.0/10