They called it “Jaws with claws” and it was a huge hit in the summer of 1976, earning nearly $40 million on a $750K budget. William Girdler’s Grizzly – a really fun riff on Jaws, featuring a fifteen-foot-tall grizzly terrorizing campers – was a no-brainer for a sequel, but it took until 1983 for one to go into production. Grizzly II: The Predator (a.k.a. Grizzly II: The Concert), however, was never finished; only an incomplete bootleg version is out there (easy to find on YouTube). The plot has a big concert taking place in the park as a giant grizzly starts to kill again. As a park ranger tries to control the chaos, a seasoned hunter is tasked with taking the beast down as it tears its way through campers and hunters, creating a path of destruction to the big gig, where it eventually meets its end.
According to a 2014 story in the New York Post, the production went entirely off the rails, with one of the producers disappearing with a bunch of money, the production moving to Hungary and leaving the director behind (without being told he was replaced!), the new Hungarian director having no experience, the caterer rewriting the film(!), and the bear attack scenes left unfinished because the creature animatronics didn’t work. Lawsuits and debts have kept the film locked away ever since.
What exists in the bootleg is hilariously awful – a nonsense plot, goofy performances and some terrible ’80s bands given way too much screen time to perform. The bear is reduced to some POV shots, a couple laughable practical effects and grunting noises.
But Grizzly II does have a load of notable actors in it. Charlie Sheen, Laura Dern and George Clooney all become bear food, with the latter two having a roll in a sleeping bag before getting munched (pictured above). John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones series, also pictured above) plays an outlandish French hunter – complete with flannel shirts, a buckskin jacket and face paint – who tries to kill the bear. Academy Award-winner Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) is also along for the ride. And Barbie Wilde (also pictured above), best known as the female Cenobite in Hellraiser II, performs in one of the bands featured at the concert. (The best line from her group’s performance: “ You take the milk from the coconut.”)
Is the bootleg worth watching? While unintentionally hilarious at times, the muddy dupe of a tape dupe of an unfinished cut is tough to sit through, and, particularly toward the end, the movie becomes increasingly fragmented, as more grizzly shots are missing and other shots are repeated. If you really want to see the celebrities in their early roles, we’ve snagged some screenshots for ya.
If the first Grizzly is Jaws with claws, Grizzly II is certainly Jaws with claws and major flaws.