I have a really soft spot in my heart for movies that fall into the category “so bad they’re good.” I love MST3K movies even without the jokes. I voluntarily watched In the Name of the King and Ultraviolet (and laughed uproariously throughout both). One of my great disappointments of this year is that I have not actually seen Sharknado.
So when Eris told me about Grizzly Rage—wherein four teenagers run over a grizzly bear cub and the mama goes on a homicidal rampage—I could not say yes fast enough.
And frankly, it was funnier than most comedies I’ve seen this year.
We meet our four teenagers—First Kill, Schrodinger’s Dumbass, Token Girl, and Tyler Hoechlin—when they’re sitting outside someone’s house (no idea whose) waiting for First Kill to arrive with the Jeep so they can load up to go camping to celebrate graduating high school. (Yes, they have actual names. No, there’s no real point in learning them.) There’s a lot of empty banter, which ends with them getting into the Jeep and the viewer already rooting for the bear.
This is followed by a very long drive, and then a heated discussion wherein the boys decide to change their plans and go somewhere called “The Grotto” as opposed to wherever they intended to go. Token Girl puts up a token protest, but she is, naturally, overridden. Because if teenagers in horror movies ever exhibited sensible decision-making skills, the entire horror movie industry would collapse.
So our intrepid quartet sets off for somewhere they’re not supposed to be. Rather than being deterred by a locked gate when they arrive, they use the winch on the Jeep to get inside and proceed to rip down dirt roads at 80 miles an hour.
During their reckless driving, they hit and kill a grizzly bear cub, spin out, and wreck the Jeep. Miraculously, the car is not actually wrecked by hitting a living being that should be the size of a large dog, but rather by hitting a tree. The teenagers argue about what to do, and in a stunning display of brilliance, Tyler Hoechlin takes off his shirt (yay!) to wrap around the baby bear and bury it (NO!).
At that moment, Mama Bear roars and the teenagers take off for the car, leaving behind the shirt so as to enable Mama to track them more easily. They drive off (in the wrong direction, naturally) and get a good distance away before the Jeep overheats and they have to stop.
As you might expect, they have no cell service, nobody knows about their change of plans, and it does not take Mama Bear long to find her dead cub and the shirt our teenagers so helpfully left behind.
So much is ridiculous about this movie that I barely know where to begin. Apparently the only budget they had for effects was for MS Paint, because the only blood splatter we get is some computer-animated stuff on the camera lens. Not on anything else, mind you. On the actual lens.
And while we did have some nice stock footage of a roaring grizzly, any time someone got attacked, it was with clearly fake bear arms. Or a clearly fake bear head (possibly attached to a battering ram).
Schrodinger’s Dumbass is dubbed thusly because for a good thirty minutes of the movie, you have no idea if he’s alive or dead.
There’s also a good chance the bear is radioactive, perhaps making it stronger and more vicious, if the amount of radioactive waste just lying around the area is any indication. However, this is merely implied, never stated, and thus Eris and I determined it would have been much better if the bear had actually glowed in the dark.
Somehow, the teenagers managed to drink two entire flats of water—judging by the number of empty bottles in the back of the car—before they ever even got to their destination, because they only have a single bottle of water left by the time the Jeep overheats. Either that or someone only packed empty bottles of water, in which case I have no idea what they planned to do during their actual camping trip.
Then there are the random five-minute stretches of nothing: walking bear food characters just wandering around, either looking for water or climbing something or exploring a ramshackle hut with lots of “No Trespassing” signs posted. (Because clearly you want to approach someone who lives in bear country quietly and unannounced. There’s no way they might be armed with very powerful rifles.)
Nobody survives. I don’t really feel like that’s a spoiler, considering the kind of movie this is: nobody survives because nobody is smart enough to survive. You spend the last five minutes of the movie screaming “THE BEAR IS STILL ALIVE, YOU IDIOTS. RUN FASTER!” and are therefore not terribly surprised when the bear returns to make a meal of the survivors.
In fact, you could probably make a drinking game out of how many times you shout “You’re a dumbass” at the screen. (Eris and I ended up shouting it in unison several times.) Just don’t do shots; that might land you in the hospital.
This is the best kind of terrible horror movie: it makes very little sense and it takes itself just seriously enough that you can get a really good laugh out of it. If you’re a fan of bad horror and you haven’t seen it, put it on your list.