The best thing about Grizzly II: Revenge is how its hilarious marketing completely blindsides the audience. The lost 80s sequel to 1976’s thriller Grizzly has been promoted as a vicious horror starring a young George Clooney, Laura Dern, and Charlie Sheen. Those Oscar winners, and Charlie Sheen, certainly show up within the first few minutes to only be mauled by a man-eating grizzly bear by the following scene.
This prank on the viewer sets the tone for this tattered flick that’s been “Frankenstein’d” together from footage previously shot for a planned sequel, concert B-roll, and modern video used to glue everything together. This experimental exploitation film is supposed to play as an outrageous artifact and a new inductee in the Midnight Madness catalogue, but the finished product is a baffling mess that proves – no matter how much time and effort you invest into a project – some things can’t be salvaged.
The problem with this rescued version of Grizzly II: Revenge is it can’t decide what it wants to be. It can’t settle on being a “dead teenager” horror/thriller, or a creature feature, or a genre-bending concert movie. It’s a goofy time at first, despite dumping a slew of characters onto the story, because the amount of simplicity is perfect. An abnormally huge and ferocious grizzly bear is wrecking havoc around the woods near a national park that’s being turned into concert fairgrounds. As the park ranger (Steve Inwood) and a hired trapper (John Rhys-Davies) track down the bear before the show, a pack of shameless poachers seek out the bear for game.
Filmmaking wise, the modern compromises made to make this simple story work are so outrageously complicated that it does quickly become an intentional and ridiculous comedy. But, unfortunately, the movie goes off the rails as soon as the concert starts. The continuity gets sloppier as more musical acts are introduced, abruptly cut off, and then reintroduced, and the incompetency starts affecting the film’s ability to alternate between the music and the killer bear thrills. The film eventually takes the ultimate dive and loses itself within the incomprehensible edits, concluding with a tacky ending that rips off the viewers and the original creators of this disaster.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie