Shot in 1983 but not finished until 2020 and finally released in 2021 Grizzly II: Revenge was long the subject of rumors and speculation. A sequel in name only to the late William Girdler’s 1976 hit it had an incredible cast of B movie regulars and others who would go on to become majors stars.
How major? George Clooney (Ocean’s Eleven, Gravity) and Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, Cold Pursuit) major. Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men, Wall Street) is in there as well. So are Deborah Raffin (The Sentinel, Death Wish 3) and John Rhys-Davies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Aquaman). Grizzly II: Revenge also features genre veterans Deborah Foreman (April Fool’s Day, Waxwork), Jack Starrett (Race With the Devil, Born Losers), Charles Cyphers (Halloween, The Fog) and the original Nurse Ratched, Louise Fletcher (Firestarter, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
A poacher kills a grizzly cub. Unfortunately for him he only wounds its mother who promptly kills him. But that isn’t enough, she’s now on a mission to kill any human she can find. And with a concert about to be held in the park there’s going to be a lot of humans to find. That includes Ron (George Clooney), Lance (Charlie Sheen) and Tina (Laura Dern) who are hiking through the park to attend the concert.
Head rangers Nick (Steve Inwood, Fame, Staying Alive) and Pete (Edward Meeks, Honor Bound) want to cancel the concert but Eileene Draygon (Louise Fletcher) refuses. It doesn’t help that Samantha Owens (Deborah Raffin) , the park’s bear expert, doesn’t want the bear killed. But, as more bodies are found she has to relent and Bouchard (John Rhys-Davies) to kill it.
By this point it was obvious why Grizzly II: revenge had sat unfinished for almost forty years, it’s awful. The plot, while the same as so many other killer animal films, could still have produced decent results. Unfortunately the script by Joan McCall (Heart Like a Wheel) and David Sheldon (Grizzly, The Evil) is full of terrible dialogue and worse plotting. Hearing Samantha trying to defend the bear even after its killed six or seven people is especially laughable. John Rhys-Davies accent and dialogue as the French Canadian woodsman also deserves special mention.
As the final preparations are made for the concert the rangers and Bouchard are tracking the bear. As are the other poachers, including the brother of the one who started it all. Of course they don’t stop the bear reaching the concert grounds. While most of the alleged musicians are bad enough they deserve to be eaten, Nick’s daughter Chrissy (Deborah Foreman) is there too.
I can appreciate that shooting new footage to round out a film this old isn’t easy but they didn’t even try to get the new footage to match what was originally shot. Grizzly II: Revenge’s opening scene is obviously stock video of bears with CGI bullets and blood effects added. Most of the shots that are supposed to be the monster bear are footage of a normal grizzly that doesn’t look anything like the few shots we see of the animatronic one.
Most of the attacks are off screen so there’s almost no gore effects, just long chases from the bear’s point of view. Or, in one case, alternating still shots of the bear and the face of the person it’s attacking. Yes, Grizzly II: Revenge is a killer bear movie with bugger all on screen bear attacks. The climactic battle with the grizzly is almost non existent so many scenes are missing. Unfortunately the scenes of Bouchard lassoing the beast and climbing up its body to try and stab it to death were filmed, and they’re as laughable as they sound.
Even if the effects had been filmed they couldn’t have saved Grizzly II: Revenge. This was one of only two films André Szöts directed and it’s easy to see why he decided to become a producer instead. From poorly set up shots to uninspired performances, so much is wrong it’s clear he was in way over his head.
Grizzly II: Revenge is available to stream and on DVD/Blu Ray from Gravitas Ventures. It might be worth a watch, if you have a shot every time someone famous pops up. By the end it might even start to look good. There’s also a book on the making of it, the behind the scenes stories might be better than the film. I can’t imagine how they couldn’t actually.