Weinberg Reviews the Legendary GRIZZLY 2 Workprint!

Some folks know it as Predator: The Concert. Even fewer people know it as Grizzly 2: The Predator. Hell, some old-school horror-heads used to mistake it for a flick called Claws, and then convinced the rest of us that it didn't exist! But it does! I've actually seen the infamously obscure workprint of the unfinished sequel to William Girdler's Grizzly, and lived to tell the tale! I'm telling it right now, actually!

My own knowledge of Grizzly 2 is a collection of horror nerd conversations, various articles around the internet, and (of course) the always-faithful Wikipedia, but as a lifelong and staunch admirer of Girdler's Grizzly -- and an ardent devourer of all things related to nature running amok -- this semi-sequel became one of my most coveted of the Genre Geek Holy Grails (right up there with the Star Wars Holiday Special, the Corman-produced Fantastic Four, and the also-unfinished Sleepaway Camp sequel ... none of which managed to live up to their reputations).

And then ... through the magic of some seriously hardcore movie fanatics who are also my good friends (namely: one Jarrette Moats), I found myself sitting in on a couch and feasting my eyes on something I didn't think I'd ever see: the stupid-ass workprint of the unfinished sequel to freakin' Grizzly. Some people cure diseases; I do this stuff. The viewing crew included Mr. Moats and various friends you may know from blogs and the Twitter: Matt Kiernan, Will Goss, John Gholson, Brian Salisbury, Jacob Hall, J.C. DeLeon -- serious movievores all. These are the guys who'll mock a horrible film but stop for a few seconds to note ... hey, that was actually a nice chase scene. We knew Grizzly 2 was an unfinished film ... but we also knew that what we were seeing could NEVER be made into a good film. Which is probably why the flick has remained unfinished since 1987.

Basically, there are two things to watch this footage for, and a grizzly bear is neither of them. Activity #1 would be the "Holy shit, that's actually {actor X} right there!" game, which I'll spoil for you in the next paragraph anyway, and Activity #2 would be gaping, slack-jawed, with a pulsating vein in your forehead, as the outrageously awful mid-'80s synth tunes cascade across your unwitting cranium. You'll swear this music fell straight from the bowels of Satan's colon, and you'll be deeply distressed by how much of it there is. By my reckoning, there's one (five-gal) band that sings as well as stink fades (the band is called Toto Coelo, according to Mr. Gholson), and later in the film there's an uber-effeminate ladies' man (?) who prances across the stage, warbling like an unholy mixture of Corey Hart, Bryan Adams, and three dying geese. And I was serious earlier: aside from one stray bear-arm early in the non-movie, and some adorably inept giant teddy bears in Act III, there are no grizzlies in Grizzly 2: The Predator of the Concert Meets the Phantom of the Park. The production stalled before the bear stuff could get wedged in amongst the stupid hunters and the ear-damaging pop songs, so all we crazy horror freaks have is two-thirds of a movie that we'd never even talk about had it been finished, released, and then forgotten except by people like you and me.

Ah, but what a cast this mess has to offer. The IMDb confirms that you'll find Deborah Foreman, Jack Starratt, Deborah Raffin, Louise Fletcher, Charlie Sheen, Laura Dern, George Clooney, and John Rhys-Davies in Grizzly 2, but it was Matt Kiernan who stared at the screen and said "Hey, that's Timothy Spall!" and it was Mr. Gholson who paused the footage and then insisted "Guys, that's Ian McNiece from Sleepy Hollow!" (Guess what? Both guys were right.) On the screen, Grizzly 2 was, of course, sort of a letdown. It had a few moments of amusing ineptitude, a lot of dry and boring material that probably would have been snipped down, and a stupidly schizophrenic approach to what was supposed to be a simple "killer bear" flick.

But being able to track down something that isn't supposed to be out there, that's wonderfully geeky and weird, and that exists only as a genre-style asterisk in the history of film ... well that's sort of special. Being able to enjoy the goofy footage with an outstanding group of friends who actually "get" why Grizzly 2 is something worth talking about ... that just makes it a bit sweeter.
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