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I'm assuming this is the first review of The Grizzly II and it's every bit as . . . not good as we suspected. Haven't come across any others as yet:
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Review: ‘Grizzly II: Revenge,’ in which a young George Clooney (and his mullet) are killed by a bear. In the first five minutes.Michael Phillips
BY MICHAEL PHILLIPS
OCT 20, 2020 AT 11:34 AM
Tonight only at 9:30 p.m., the monthlong Music Box of Horrors drive-in festival presents a terrible movie of legitimate historical interest, if only for George Clooney, Laura Dern, George Clooney’s mullet and the reminder (his character is killed off in the first five minutes) that we all have to start somewhere.
Heard of “Grizzly II: Revenge”? Unlikely. Filmed in Communist Hungary in the waning days of the Cold War, outside Budapest, this 1983 … movie, I guess we’ll call it, never made it into theaters. An unfinished bootleg swam around YouTube for years.
Now, the dogged producer Suzanne Nagy has somehow assembled a faithfully incomprehensible 68-minute cut of the sequel to the 1976 “Jaws” ripoff, “Grizzly.”
First, a public service reminder. The Music Box of Horrors festival, taking up most of the October calendar at the ChiTown Movies drive-in located in Pilsen just south of downtown, features a swell variety of horror, thriller and schlock, in the coolest pop-up drive-in Chicago has gained amid so many closings and losses this year.
As for “Grizzly II: Revenge," well … let’s stick to the facts. Director André Szöts, who from the looks of it learned to direct by fax from an undisclosed Iron Curtain location, stumbles through the sorry tale of a 15-foot mother bear whose cubs are killed by poachers. (The introductory scenes apparently were filmed more recently; drones were not a thing in ’83.) The bear starts taking it out on unsuspecting idiots camping near the site of a big outdoor music concert. A numbing percentage of “Grizzly II”' dies on its feet as various musical acts rehearse or perform. By minute 50, you’re ready to start a GoFundMe just to bring on the bear attacks.
Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen, each of whom get a handful of lines, die first, and the bear POV shots, accompanied by obviously human-trying-to-sound-like-bear breathing. Louise Fletcher, Oscar winner for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” plays the Murray Hamilton “Jaws” equivalent, the callous park superintendent who doesn’t want to scare the crowds. Deborah Raffin brings fruitless commitment to the role of the “director of bear management” who says things like: "The grizzly we’re seeking is huge. Obviously powerful. And probably enraged.”
The most bearish presence, even among various, phony approximations of the killer bear and occasional appearances by real ones, belongs to John Rhys-Davies, delivering 110 percent long after everyone else has begun to suspect the movie they’re making in 1983 won’t come out until a pandemic or until 2020, whichever comes first. As the French-Canadian trapper Bouchard, spiritual heir to Robert Shaw’s Quint in “Jaws,” he gives every stupid line the sauce, the relish, the topspin and the business. “Very bad,” he says, after hearing a description of the killer in the woods. “You got … the devil bear.”
In addition to future stars Clooney, Dern and Sheen, young Timothy Spall of Mike Leigh fame pops up as a roadie in an arm cast. The entire script seems to be written in ellipses. When the daughter (Deborah Foreman) of a park ranger (Steve Inwood) hooks up with the least sympathetic boy-band signer in history (Nigel Dolman), she makes the mistake of telling the boy how she feels about him. His reply: “I like you a lot. But I’m nothing. I’m just a gypsy … a clown … a juggler.”
There’s an insanely detailed feature on theringer.com on the making and unmaking and ultimate semi-completion of this movie, covering everything from the reason Clooney, Dern and Sheen got hired (they had famous showbiz relatives) to the mysterious disappearance, either in a fire or in a robbery, of no less than three mechanical bears rigged up for action but never used. It’s a pity “Grizzly II: Revenge” isn’t giddy-bad, the way Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” delights so many. But it’s here, it’s seriously disoriented and disorienting, and I’d say bring your bear repellent tonight to the Pilsen drive-in, but the movie itself should be enough.
One star, but they tried (out of four)
No MPAA rating (some violence, language)
Running time: 1:08
Screens: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 20 only, Music Box of Horrors, ChiTown Movies drive-in, 2343 S. Throop St.; musicboxtheatre.com. Gravitas Features will release the film more widely in early 2021.
Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.
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Isn't it about what we expected? (Love how he describes the director! ) If I had any desire to see this thing it just evaporated!
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