BARE BONES: GRIZZLY II-REVENGE (1983/2020)

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GRIZZLY II-REVENGE (1983/2020)

Awful sequel to the 1976 cult classic Grizzly was originally filmed in 1983, but was put on the shelf when funding disappeared. It sat for 37 years till finally being completed and released last year! While a sequel in name, it has no relation to the 1976 Jaws rip-off. If the 18 foot female grizzly here is the mate of Grizzly’s grizzly, it’s never made clear. This mess of a movie has a wounded and enraged mother grizzly going on a murderous rampage after her cub is killed by a hunter. It’s up to park ranger Nick Hollister (Steve Inwood), pretty director of Bear Management, Samantha Owens (Deborah Raffin) and grizzly hunter Bouchard (John Rhys-Davies) to stop her before she collides with a packed outdoor concert playing nearby.

While it took 37 years to complete this flick, it’s not sure what was actually done, as it still looks like an unfinished movie…and a mess of one at that. At a scant 74 minutes, the film has a bear-ly followable story as the movie looks like it was edited together with one of half-Native American Bouchard’s tomahawks. Original footage shot in 1983 was directed incompetently by André Szöts from a laughably bad script by David Sheldon and Joan McCall. The 1983 footage, with a few new shots, has been thrown together in what can hardly be considered an actual film. The kills are all off screen, top-billed Charlie Sheen, George Clooney and Laura Dern are the bear’s first victims and the bear prop Bouchard battles at the concert set ending is hilariously awful. Not to mention so many of the characters are unlikable jerks, you don’t really hate momma grizzly for killing them. Even the concert musical act performances are pathetically awful. Sadly, it’s so bad that you can’t even laugh at it, and at least that would have made it entertaining. A 37 year wait for absolutely nothing.

 
-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE WRAITH (1986)

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THE WRAITH (1986)

“Roadblocks won’t stop something that can’t be stopped!”- Sheriff Loomis (Randy Quaid)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

If there ever is a flick that screams “80s”, it’s Mike Marvin’s The Wraith. From it’s delightfully 80s fashions and hair, candy colored cinematography and heavy metal soundtrack (tracks listed below), this film is a ton of fun simply for the nostalgia alone. The story takes place in a small Arizona desert town were a thug by the name of Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes) rules over a vicious gang of car jockeys. Aside from racing, their hobbies are stealing cars, bullying townspeople and even murder when it comes to anyone even looking at the object of Packard’s twisted attention, Keri (Sherilyn Fenn). But Packard starts to lose his grip when mysterious stranger, Jake (Charlie Sheen) comes to town with eyes for Keri…and a mysterious car shows up as well, that starts taking out Packard’s gang. Are this stranger and this car connected?…and what do they have to do with the death of Keri’s previous boyfriend, Jamie (Christopher Bradley)?

Written and directed by Mike Marvin, this is a goofy…though taken fairly seriously…flick that is a mix of The Car, The Terminator and The Crow, though it predates the latter, with it’s protagonist avenging his own murder, by three years for the graphic novel and twelve for the film. It’s basically a series of fast paced car chases set to blasting heavy metal with each contest ending in flames and twisted wreckage. The film is a lot of fun, if you can get past the awkward performances from some of the supporting cast and the cheesy dialogue, such as the snippet above. There is never an explanation as to how Jamie is able to return…in a blaze of cheesy 80s animations effects, no less…and why he looks like Charlie Sheen or has a pimped up Dodge. There are some other very strange elements here that are never explained, such as the victims being dead yet showing no bodily damage, as one would in a car crash, and whenever The Wraith claims a victim, one of his metal arm or leg braces disappears…WHAT? Who cares as long as we’re entertained and The Wraith does that, scatterbrained plot or not. When we are not getting heavy metal blasting on the soundtrack, there is a perfectly 80s electronic score by Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson and that candy colored cinematography is photographed by Reed Smoot. An almost perfect example of the kind of low budget flick that dominated the mid to late 80s and could still be seen in a theater where flicks like this belong!

The main cast is fun and give their parts their all. Charlie Sheen is suitably mysterious as the handsome stranger that comes into to town to woo Keri. As The Wraith, the character is in a suit of space-aged armor, so Sheen is only on screen sporadically in the scenes with Sherilyn Fenn and Matthew Barry, who plays Jamie’s brother Billy. Fenn is a little wooden, but looks incredibly hot as Keri. She claims not to be Packard’s girlfriend yet is too frightened to walk away from him…until dreamy, mysterious Jake shows up. She and Sheen do have a bit of chemistry on screen. Cassavetes is a perfectly slimy, psycho villain and we can’t wait till he and the avenger with the futuristic Dodge meet on the highway to Hell. Randy Quaid is fun as the tough guy Sheriff, who is the only one who stands up to Packard, as is Clint Howard a hoot as one of Packard’s eccentric goons. As for the supporting cast, here is where some of the acting gets really shaky and provides some unintentional laughs. 80s horror fans can also keep a look out for a familiar face, as there is also a small role from Intruder and Night Of The Creeps star Elizabeth Cox as the girlfriend of a guy who loses his car to Packard in a race.

The Wraith is a blast of 80s fun and while it wasn’t a big hit back in the day, it has earned a following as a cult classic. Sure the script is a bit on the goofy side and a lot of things are never explained, but the film is entertaining enough to get passed all that, especially now with the delightful and bountiful 80s nostalgia. The film is a remembrance of the type of flick they don’t make anymore…outside of some recent homages…and is a real good time especially when accompanied by some of your favorite brews.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 nostalgically fun wraiths.

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Track Listing from the Soundtrack CD

1. Where’s The Fire – Tim Feehan
2. Those Were The Days – Honeymoon Suite
3. Hearts Vs Heads – Stan Bush
4. Hold On Blue Eyes – LaMarcha
5. Young Love, Hot Love – Jill Michaels
6. Secret Loser – Ozzy
7. Never Surrender – Lion
8. Bad Mistake – James House
9. Wake Up Call – Ian Hunter
10. Matter Of The Heart – Bonnie Tyler

Songs featured in the film but not on the CD

1. Smokin’ in the Boys Room – Mötley Crüe
2. Addicted to Love – Robert Palmer
3. Scream of Angels – Nick Gilder
4. Power Love – Lion
5. Rebel Yell – BillyIdol

 

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…and Clint Howard, just because…

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE BOYS NEXT DOOR (1985)

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THE BOYS NEXT DOOR (1985)

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80s Crime thriller finds social outcasts Bo (Charlie Sheen) and Roy (Maxwell Caulfield) facing high school graduation and the start of dead end factory jobs the following Monday. They decide to hit L.A. for a last weekend of cutting loose, but as dark emotions and deep frustrations bubble to the surface, the party weekend quickly degenerates into a spree of violence, mayhem and murder.

Effective and disturbing little flick is directed by Penelope Spheeris (Suburbia, Wayne’s World) from a script from future X-Files writers/producers Glen Morgan and James Wong. It takes a dark look at that moment between high school and moving forward to your future, with the portrayal of two youths who don’t feel they have one. Obviously, from the film’s opening credits serial killer montage, we know this is not going to end well and it doesn’t, as a weekend of cutting loose becomes a vicious murder spree. It’s the brooding Roy who has the darkest emotions here as he does most of the killing, with the more simpleminded Bo along for the ride and assisting in some of the violence. Morgan and Wong’s script has implications Roy is also struggling with his sexuality and/or repressing homosexuality as he, at one moment, dupes a gay man (Paul C. Dancer) into taking them back to his apartment and then brutalizes and murders him. Roy also becomes apparently jealous when Bo gets laid with the lonely and pretty Angie (Patti D’Arbanville) and viciously murders the older woman, who is just looking for some company. These moments are violent and very effective as we watch two men venting their frustrations, and in Roy’s case, some dark harbored emotions, on innocent people. The police are slowly closing in on the duo, but even Detective Woods (Christopher McDonald) laments that it will take more heinous activity to get the clues they need to catch them. It also takes quite a few bodies for Bo to come around, want to walk away and go home, but Roy is out of control and we know it is only a matter of time before small town thrill-killers collide with big city police…and Spheeris makes it an intense and unsettling ride. There is some clunky dialog here and there, mostly between the police characters, but otherwise this is an underrated tale of two young men giving in to their darker impulses and taking their frustrations out on unsuspecting and undeserving people. Despite being thirty years old these themes resonate today more than ever, with the horrible reality of school shootings and teen killers.

Sheen and Caulfield are excellent in their parts. Long before he became ‘troubled’ Sheen plays a simple young man who seems to be happy to just go with the flow and in this case, go along with the more dominant and troubled Roy. Bo engages in the violence, but seems to be just following Roy’s lead as he lacks the inner rage and turmoil of his best friend. He’s sadly a follower and just as he is willing to walk into that factory on Monday morning, he is willing to follow the increasingly volatile Roy on his spree of violence. Bo does join in on some of the brutality, but it is Roy who initiates it and delivers the fatal blow in each case. It takes until the brutal murder of the sweet Angie for Bo to realize he’s had enough, but it’s too little and too late. Caulfield gives a very strong performance as the more dominant and deeply troubled Roy. Roy seems to have numerous frustrations bubbling within, as he is not only unhappy with his working class, trailer park life with his drunk and burnt-out father, but Morgan and Wong’s script seem to implicate he is also possibly suppressing homosexuality, as he targets the gay Chris for murder, kills the male of a couple with the woman being almost an afterthought and appears to be quite jealous when Bo is getting Angie’s amorous attention. It’s never discussed openly, but there are enough clues to suggest working class Roy is suppressing homosexual tendencies and this suppression is turning into rage. Rage is what fuels Roy, whereas Bo is just along for the ride and for the thrill of their criminal exploits. Roy is out for revenge against a world he possibly feels has mistreated him or dealt him a bad hand. Caulfield does a great job conveying these frustrations and Roy’s inner rage. Other major cast members are Patti D’Arbanville, as the ill-fated Angie, who seems like a sweet-natured and lonely women just looking for some company and the actress earns our empathy with limited screen time and Christopher McDonald as young detective Woods, who, unfortunately, has one of the weaker written parts and some of the more stilted dialogue. He is likable, but is a victim of some of the script’s flaws.

Revisiting this ‘lost’ flick after more than two decades, only makes it more disappointing that the film was never really recognized for the effective and unsettling crime thriller it is. It presents a simple, and all too real, story of two small town youths who let their darker emotions, frustrations and urges turn them down a violent path with only one end. The two lead actors are very good in their roles with conveying, especially in Caulfield’s Roy, emotions and inner turmoil they are not equipped to deal with…so they take it out on others. It’s shocking, brutal and even over thirty years later, very effective and relevant. Highly recommended.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) bullets.

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