'Grizzly II: Revenge': Film Review

Grizzly II Revenge
Courtesy of GBGB International
Didn't Clooney and the others want to pay the blackmail money?

George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen make early career appearances in this never-seen sequel to the 1976 exploitation movie hit.

Don't be fooled by the marketing materials. Yes, Charlie Sheen, George Clooney and Laura Dern do appear in the long unseen Grizzly II: Revenge. But despite their top billing, the three future stars, looking impossibly young, are only onscreen for the first five minutes or so before their characters are killed by the titular beast. That, and the fact that the film went unseen for the next 37 years or so, turned out to be their lucky breaks.

This never-released sequel to 1976's surprisingly successful indie exploitation film Grizzly has long been an object of fascination for genre fans. Unfortunately, the film's excavation doesn't exactly live up to the years of anticipation. Nor does it represent the sort of entertainingly awful B-movie that has served as fodder for drinking games and the likes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Rather, Grizzly II: Revenge is so bad, it's just bad.

Directed by André Szöts (don't bother looking up his other credits, he doesn't have any), the film, shot in 1983 in Cold War-era Hungary, begins in typical '80s horror movie fashion. Three young people (played by Sheen, Clooney and Dern, in a miracle of providential casting) are cavorting in the woods the night before an outdoor music festival. Not long after Dern strips down to her underwear (naturally), they're attacked by a giant grizzly bear. Or, at least by a cameraman waving hairy arms and wheezing asthmatically.

Cue the Jaws rip-off plot, with Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher (looking embarrassed) in the Murray Hamilton role of a local official determined to keep the news of a killer bear quiet so the music festival can proceed as scheduled; Steve Inwood (Staying Alive) in the Roy Scheider role of a park ranger attempting to make her see reason; and '70s movie mainstay Deborah Raffin (Once is Not Enough) in the Richard Dreyfuss role of a "Director of Bear Management" who utters such pronouncements as "This grizzly is huge, obviously powerful and probably enraged."

To further the Jaws comparison, a Robert Shaw-like bear-hunting expert is eventually called in. He's Bouchard (played in entertainingly hammy fashion by John Rhys-Davies, easily stealing the film), a buckskin jacket-wearing French-Canadian trapper fond of referring to himself in the third person. At first Bouchard is skeptical of the others' dire pronouncements, mocking, "So you got a problem with a little grizzly, huh?" But he quickly sees the light. "Leave this devil bear to Bouchard!" he instructs them. "Come, I got many traps to set!"

Inexplicably, the film seems less concerned with the bear attacks (probably a good thing, since the half-assed creature effects wouldn't pass muster in a 1930s programmer) than the rock concert that dominates the second half. Featuring a gallery of atrocious synth-pop acts, who are even more atrociously costumed (lots of tight short-shorts), the music sequences go on so interminably you begin to suspect that the grizzly was merely an excuse to stage a rock concert for thousands of young Communist-bloc music fans.

Choppily edited to the point of narrative incoherence, Grizzly II: Revenge offers little in the way of genuine scares. It does, however, offer a lot of familiar faces in small roles, including Dick Anthony Williams, Deborah Foreman, Timothy Spall, Jack Starret, Charles Cyphers and Ian McNiece. This version, due to either lost footage or never-shot sequences, runs a scant 68 minutes, plus credits. Consider the brevity a blessing.

Available in theaters and VOD
Production company: GBGB International
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Cast: George Clooney, Laura Dern, Charlie Sheen, Louise Fletcher, John Rhys-Davies, Steve Inwood, Edward Meeks, Deborah Raffin, Dick Anthony Williams, Deborah Foreman
Director: André Szöts
Screenwriters: Joanne McCall David Sheldon
Producer/executive producer: Suzanne Csikos Nagy
Director of photography: Jean Badal
Editors: Brandon Adler, Matthew A. Handal, Alec Styborski

74 min.