Well, that was drab. Turns out Screamers is a super old-fashioned Italian horror pic with new footage (featuring Mel Ferrer and Cameron Mitchell) brought in by a crew that included future mega-producer Gale Anne Hurd and FX dude Chris Walas. The film proper has a volcano, angry natives, fish head masks, a Snidely Whiplash villain and even a chamber that slowly fills with water. Some blunt miniature work fills out the climax. There’s a lot of running for the first hour. And lots and lots of fish-man hands slowly appearing around corners.
Things get pretty squirrelly by the end of Grizzy 2: The Concert. Apparently, the film was not actually finished, as the last 7 minutes are repeated shots of the same jeep rolling on its side and John Rhys-Davies stuck between some boxes. But we finally have actual bear! Or at least bear head and bear arm. According to what I’m reading online, the producer ran away with the finishing funds (which included the mechanical bear that has so clearly been absent the entire film), so this is actually a workprint. Said bear is apparently attracted by the sounds of shotguns and ’80s Euro pop, so he invades the concert, setting a man aflame, knocking over a forklift, and seemingly perishing in a blaze of stage pyrotechnics. Final song is framed against the mayhem (“When I go to heaven / What should I wear?”) with the lead singer – who has already warned terrible assistant Deborah Foreman that he’s a gypsy, and it’s all just a game, a laugh, a joke – doing the Molly Ringwald. And what do you know, apparently it was Charlie Sheen and George Clooney in the earlier scene with Laura Dern all along.
Shot in Hungary – where life is cheap and the talent guarantees are even cheaper. Deborah Foreman has been hired as a terrifically inefficient gofer, much of her time so far spent toodling around with the lamest keyboard group this side of Blancmange (Landscape, whose lead singer performs So Good So Pure So Kind in a short shorts / knee socks combo that would make Wham-era Andrew Ridgeley cringe). Lots of backstage banter shot by a cameraman who clearly has a fetish for the backs of people’s heads. Why are Toto Coelho doing The Robot? At minute 68 so far all I’ve seen of the grizzly, or any wildlife for that matter, is one enormous blonde paw smacking the absolute shit out of an unwary camper. And now we’re knee deep in parallel conversations between Ranger Hollister and bottom-barrel PA Deborah Foreman and two strangely tender, hirsute poachers. Does this thing ever end?
49 minutes in and I have no idea what is going on. Big Bear POV has killed Laura Dern in a bra (and supposedly Charlie Sheen and George Clooney are in this as well, but no luck spotting them so far). Raiders of the Lost Ark’s John Rhys-Davis has now entered the scene as a French-Candian-Indian trapper named Bouchard, who everyone repeatedly says is the best grizzly trapper you’ll ever find (and the cruelest, according to Deborah Raffin, Director of Bear Management). Toto Coelo, quite possibly the worst girl-pop group in the history of girl-pop groups, rehearses “You Take The Milk From The Coconut.” We have a 4 minute helicopter landing scene. Louise Fletcher as the governor (?) / Mayor from Jaws has several arguments with hero park ranger Hollister / Sheriff Brody about why she can’t spare any state troopers from show security even after 4 people have been slaughtered by the 20 foot tall grizzly (“You know what happens at rock concerts, don’t you?”). And a quartet of unlovable hicks that fit in neatly between Deliverance and Southern Comfort just knocked out another park ranger who caught them enjoying one of the film’s spectacularly irresponsible campfires.
Monster movie marathon at Casa de Deux Chefs has commenced. First up: the unreleased Grizzly 2: The Concert (1987). So far, it’s been Louise Fletcher with a terrible hairdo, a hot chick who is “Director of Bear Management,” lots of aerobics, all grizzly shots from the bear’s POV, Deborah Foreman from Valley Girl, a soundtrack composed almost entirely of quite certainly unlicensed Michael Jackson tracks, a concert promoter who appears to have stepped directly off the set of The Mack, and the informational nugget that people in “San Francisco’s Chinatown” will purchase bear gall bladder for its aphrodisiac qualities. We’re only 16 minutes in here, people. Live blogging this historic event all day.
31 Days of Horror: Shivers (aka They Came From Within, 1975, D: David Cronenberg, W: David Cronenberg)
David Cronenberg’s become quite respectable with age (despite his penchant for naked Viggo Mortensen fights and hints of ultra-violence), so digging into his first commercial feature can be a little unsettling. This is cheap and sleazy stuff, with that frayed ’70s film stock and harsh, green-tinted lighting of the best drive-in trash. But underneath it is Cronenberg’s obsession with bodily change and image, and his darkest sense of humor — the stuff that would be made perfection in his adaptation of The Fly. It’s really about slugs that get in your body and make you horny. So yeah, pure Cronenberg.