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Film Review: ‘Grizzly II: Revenge’ is Bad News Bears

Courtesy of Gravitas Ventures

The 1980’s brought us a lot of iconic movie moments. Meg Ryan faking an orgasm across from Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest explaining the volume on a stereo and how it only goes to 11, E.T. tucked into a bicycle basket flying through the night sky, and Judd Nelson punching the air after getting the girl, just to name a few. While these pieces of cinema can be considered cult classics, brilliant filmmaking, and downright prime entertainment, the 1980’s were very flawed, and provided some questionable flicks as well.

Grizzly II: Revenge is the sequel to the 1976 film Grizzly. The movie chronicles a hunt for a giant, enraged grizzly bear that is killing people after her cub was murdered. While multiple hunters as well as bear management employees hunt down the beast, a large music festival is also occurring in the vicinity. It is a race against time to subdue—or kill—the monster before hundreds of people’s lives are at jeopardy.

Before venturing any further into this (most questionable) picture, it is important to mention how this movie was created. The movie began filming in 1983, and after a producer disappeared the first day of shooting, money that was available to finish the film ran dry. 37 years later, it was decided to pour more money into what they had, and finish what they had started. Thus, Grizzly II: Revenge was born, a mix of footage from the early 80’s and 2020.

Actor wise, there are three faces that anyone who watches this movie will recognize: Laura Dern, Charlie Sheen and George Clooney. Their performances all feel very campy, but that is not unexpected given the fact that the entire movie feels campy and bizarre. Be sure not to become too attached to the star-studded trio, however, as they are only seen in the first 10 minutes.

Out of the actual main characters, John Rhys-Davies is the most well known. Rhys-Davies has previously portrayed Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s hard to definitively tell, but it seems like Rhys-Davies got some filming done for this movie in 2020 as well, as he looks different in some scenes near the end of its 68-minute-runtime. Overall, the actor plays an outrageous character with a counterfeit accent, which fits in well with the other absurd aspects of this film.

This movie was a second—and final—directorial venture for André Szöts as he passed away in 2006. Szöts primarily focused on being a producer, mostly for Hungarian works, as that is where he was from. From the footage that Szöts was director for, there are obvious efforts at crafting a horror movie where the monster is a realistic, wild beast. Unfortunately, these attempts don’t land, for many reasons.

The first main issue with the film is the high number of continuity errors, which is not surprising given the circumstances behind making this movie. Things such as lighting, film quality, and costumes jump around and change multiple times, and it is obvious every time. It is far too easy to pick out which scenes must have been filmed in the 80’s and which were filmed last year. Postproduction clearly tried to remaster the 80’s footage in attempts to match it with the 2020 film appearance and quality. A better option may have been to make the newer footage appear more dingy or fuzzy to fit in with the 80’s outfits, hair, and quality.

The next major issue involves poorly dubbed lines. Dozens of times, actors’ mouths are either moving wildly and not matching the dialogue, or not moving at all while dialogue is heard. Even during some musical concert numbers, the singers’ mouths are clearly shut while lyrics are flying. This adds to the comical and messy feel that this movie embodies.

Despite the movie being wildly short, there are countless minutes of extra footage that is obviously meant to bulk up the film and extend the runtime. This includes long series of bears and deer filmed documentary style, as well as tedious musical numbers that seem to be cut and reused various times. While the concert scenes are cringe worthy, the footage of wild animals is quite pleasing. One many even venture to say that these minutes of documentary style footage are the best minutes of the entire picture. 

The concert aspect of the film is nonsensical and does nothing to thicken the plot. If anything, it incites laughter and question marks. There are 80’s bands performing songs such as, “Milk from the Coconut” as well as a band that was clearly filmed more recently, which sticks out like a sore thumb. The outfits are retro and outlandish, the audience shots are full of feathered hair and absurd fashion choices, and every so often they add in an audience shot of current-day teens, which does not go unnoticed. Every attempt to blend 37-year-old footage with footage from this decade is unsuccessful, blatant, and confusing if you’re unaware of this movie’s origins.

The special effects and bear costuming are both atrocious. Not only are there cheap looking bullet hits that could have been created on iMovie, there is also what one can only assume is an actor in a bear suit that barely moves and very clearly looks artificial. It is a true disappointment to find in any horror movie that the efforts put into making a monster look realistic and terrifying were lacking, and this movie is absolutely no exception.

At the end of the day, this picture is a classic example of a B movie. It raises many questions, but the most important question may be this: What on Earth do Sheen, Dern, and Clooney think about this relic finally being released, and will they acknowledge or watch it?

If the misfortunes that this movie has endured are intriguing enough that you want to see it, Grizzly II: Revenge is available on demand on January 8th, 2021. If you do decide to watch, please leave comments below to let us know what you thought.

SCORE: ★

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Written by Kendall Tinston

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