"So, you got a problem with a little grizzly, huh?"
"It's not a little grizzly. It's a big grizzly."
David Sheldon's GRIZZLY II: THE PREDATOR, alternately known as GRIZZLY II: THE CONCERT and of course PREDATOR: THE CONCERT was a belated, in name only sequel to the 1976 film GRIZZLY, which was itself a blatant ripoff of JAWS. GRIZZLY II manages to be a ripoff of a ripoff, with another giant grizzly rampaging through another national park, only this time with thousands of people attending a large outdoor concert within the park acting as bear bait. This film would be completely forgotten today except for the fact that is was never fully finished and also provided early acting jobs for George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen, making it a highly sought after collectable for fans of cinematic skeletons in the closet.
Park Ranger Nick Hollister (Steve Inwood) has his hands full when not only does he have to oversee the preparations for a massive outdoor rock concert designed to raise funds for the park. He finds himself further inconvenienced when a twenty foot tall grizzly decides to start eating the tourists. He gets little help from Director of Bear Management Samantha Owens (Deborah Raffin) who seems awfully reluctant to stop an innocent bear who, after all, is only following its instincts. He gets even less help from Park Superintendent Eileene Draygon (played by Louise Fletcher in what has to be the steepest career slide for an Oscar winner ever), who in true evil bureaucrat fashion tells him to deal with the problem quietly and without jeopardizing the revenue from the concert. Hollister hires Bouchard (John Rhys-Davies), a Quint-like hunter and together they head into the woods to track the "devil bear." Can Hollister destroy the bear before it crashes the concert as well as protect the virtue of his daughter (a pre-VALLEY GIRL Deborah Foreman) who is involved in a budding romance with the narcissistic, not entirely masculine concert headliner? No, probably not.
GRIZZLY II exists only in a workprint version, with incomplete scenes, a temp music track and only partially dubbed dialogue. The film was shot in Hungary in 1983 and most of principal photography was completed before the production was shut down due to lack of funds. Judging by what's onscreen it looks like most (but not all) of the scenes involving the principal actors were completed but except for some quick footage of a bear puppet during the climatic attack none of the bear footage was shot. As can be expected, this is an issue for a film calling itself GRIZZLY II as there are many scenes where characters are shown screaming and running from nothing and every attack scene ends prematurely while roars from a nonexistent bear play on the soundtrack. Instead of the bear, we're treated to many (many) scenes featuring the new wave musical acts playing at the concert. These acts are so bad you'll walk away from this film eternally grateful that the 1980s are over. In fact, early in the film Sheen, playing a hiker who is soon to become bear chow, mentions that he is on the way to a "great concert," proving that even in 1983 he was clinically insane.
While GRIZZLY II is by no means a good film, getting to finally see it is a real treat. For years this film was only rumored to exist and so it's great to at least be able to verify its existence. Plus, the movie is actually fun to watch. If this film had been released in 1983 it would barely rate a footnote today but, because of its rarity and the presence of so many name actors slumming their way through it, this movie has a camp value that's almost irresistable. I love it when supposedly lost films surface without warning and GRIZZLY II gives me hope that others are out there waiting to be found.If a movie like GRIZZLY II can show up out of nowhere after sitting in the back of someone's closet for a couple of decades maybe some of the more sought after missing tititle, such as Jerry Lewis' notorious THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED, will be next.
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