Grizzly II: Revenge (2020) — The legendary unfinished sequel finally arrives

“You ain’t seen no big grizzlies. … Bouchard seen them.”

Justin’s rating: This summer… he will swipe ALL the pic-a-nic baskets!

Justin’s review: Very rarely have I encountered a movie that all but screams that the cult fan must view it. In the case of Grizzly II: Revenge, there are so many compelling factors that I couldn’t ignore it.

For starters, this is the long-lost, (previously) never-finished 1983 sequel to 1976’s Grizzly, a movie about a killer bear, rocket launchers, and downed helicopters. Legend goes that the Hungarian production — which was behind the Iron Curtain at the time — ran into trouble when the producer absconded with the funding in the middle of the shoot. This all took place at a fake concert staged by Americans on a Soviet military base, where 50,000 fans showed up to see the heavy metal group Nazareth and stayed afterward to be filmed (without their knowledge) for a killer bear flick while the secret police combed through the crowds.

Unfinished and without its key bear animatronics due to a warehouse fire, Grizzly II floated in limbo for nearly four decades after that, occasionally popping up in underground movie festival circuits as various companies tried to complete it. This only happened in [checks watch] 2020, creating one of the longest journeys from filming to release in cinema history.

If all of that isn’t enough to rope you in, I promise you that the casting will. In the opening minutes of Grizzly II, George Clooney, Laura Dern, and Charlie Sheen are all mauled to death. I am totally serious. And I am also serious when I say that we get to hang out with John Rhys-Davies in French Canadian hunting garb for the remainder of the movie.

Said mauling comes about because a 15-foot grizzly has become a mite bit peeved following the murder of her cubs. As the title says, it’s time for some REVENGE, and Batman’s going to bite it. The timing couldn’t be better from the bear’s perspective, either, as the foolish humans are staging a massive concert at the national park where it’s rampaging.

Drawing from the Jaws playbook, the park director refuses to panic the attendees by calling in the national guard or warning people against the four-legged furry tank that’s about to steamroll everyone. She’s so gleefully obstructionist that I couldn’t wait until the bear swiped a few inches off her noggin.

The authorities are concerned, but not concerned enough to call off the actual concert. Compromise time! Keep the concert going and hope that French Canadian hunter named Bouchard (Rhys-Davies) can handle it, who’s going to come after it with a tomahawk, third-person references, and a lot of superstitious hoojoo. Like many of his other odd roles, Rhys-Davies gives it his all and is the best thing on screen here.

While it’s certainly great that Grizzly II was finished and got its proper due, I’m not going to sit here and lie that it suddenly emerged as a newly discovered masterpiece. It’s a janky cut with inconsistent sound levels, scenes that abruptly start and end, and a stitched-together quilt of 1983 footage and 2020 additions. Trust me, you can tell the difference, especially when the CGI appears.

In short, Grizzly II remains an unfinished movie that could use another pass by a skilled editor and a lot better bear effects. It’s got a quick runtime and moments of campy amusement, but this sucker is all over the place. Yet I’m so happy I got to see it. What a time to be alive — and unmauled by a grizzly bear.

Didja notice?

  • Slow-mo grizzly hunting shots
  • Tina does not have good hiking shoes
  • Well, that was a short cameo parade, hope you enjoyed it
  • You can be Director of Bear Management if you work hard at school, kids
  • “Do you know how to operate a phone?” “Both dial and push-button!”
  • Big bears might bring $100,000 in cash reward
  • Bouchard likes to lift trees
  • “You got the devil bear.”
  • The so-very-80s band rehearsal
  • I know this is a hot take, but there is WAY too much rehearsal scenes with bad bands
  • Bears don’t mind if you climb them with pitons

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