10 Fascinating Facts About Grizzly Man

Lionsgate Entertainment
Lionsgate Entertainment

Nearly 10 years ago, Werner Herzog returned to nonfiction with a streak of documentaries focused on Tibetan Buddhism, aviation, the oldest art known to man, and people living in unique extremes. Grizzly Man, a film about amateur naturalist Timothy Treadwell’s life (and death) with bears, was at the center of this explosion of real-life stories.

Treadwell spent 13 summers living among the bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, filming footage and styling himself as a rogue protector who could get close enough to the grizzlies to pet them. In 2003, he and girlfriend Amie Huguenard stayed past the summer into the pre-hibernation season. Eventually a bear mauled them both, leaving behind the footage and a lot of questions which Herzog mined for his film. Here are 10 things you might not know about Grizzly Man, which was co-shot by its subject.

1. A PAIR OF MISPLACED GLASSES LED WERNER HERZOG TO THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR.

Timothy Treadwell in 'Grizzly Man' (2005)
Lionsgate Entertainment

The German auteur was in the office of Erik Nelson, who produces projects for National Geographic and Discovery, hunting through his pockets and a bunch of papers on Nelson’s table for his reading glasses when an article about Timothy Treadwell caught his eye. Nelson encouraged him to read it because they were going to make a movie about it.

"So I read it and immediately hurried back to his office, and I asked, 'Who is directing it?,'" Herzog told NPR. "And he said, 'I'm kind of directing it.'  And there was some sort of hesitation, and with my thick German accent I said, 'No, I will direct this movie.' And that was it. We shook hands and I made it."

2. TIMOTHY TREADWELL SPENT 35,000 HOURS WITH THE BEARS.

Many viewers were critical of Treadwell, particularly for familiarizing bears with a human presence in a way that could potentially lead them to lose their fear for both poachers and campers. However, noted bear expert Charlie Russell defended Treadwell, particularly his innate way of connecting with the bears and the dedication it took to spend 35,000 hours over 13 years with the animals.

3. TREADWELL WAS HOPING TO TURN HIS FOOTAGE INTO HIS OWN MOVIE.

Herzog started with 100-plus hours of footage Treadwell shot of his time in the park. Besides the enormous amount of film, it was all meticulously curated both in how it was shot and in what takes were kept. As Grizzly Man points out, “Treadwell” was a stage name for the aspiring actor who lost out on a role on Cheers (he claimed to come very close to landing the part of Woody Boyd) and captured his encounters with the bears as a nature documentary host. He released an hour-long edit of footage that Herzog saw during production but kept almost all of the footage within his circle of friends.

4. DAVID LETTERMAN JOKINGLY ASKED TREADWELL IF HE THOUGH HE'D BE KILLED BY A BEAR.

The only part of the documentary that was replaced or edited out was a segment of Late Show with David Letterman where the host pointed out the obvious: the risk Treadwell was taking. Treadwell responded that he wouldn't be killed by a bear, echoing an ironic sentiment at the beginning of the doc where he claims there’s no real danger of that happening.

5. HERZOG WAS SURPRISED BY THE INTENSITY OF TREADWELL’S FOOTAGE.

The director and his team went through the massive amount of footage Treadwell shot to transform 100-plus hours into a 103-minute documentary (and to plan their own footage and narration). Herzog found the intensity of the footage “unexpected.”

“It was always clear to me that it wouldn’t be a film on wild nature, that it would be much more a film on our nature,” Herzog told CHUD.com. “Treadwell is a very complex character full of doubts and self-aggrandization. Full of demons that haunt him and exhilarations and swings in mood, and seeing a mission that he finds himself into, and being almost paranoid for moments, and being very sane and very clear at others.”

6. HERZOG NEVER PLANNED TO USE THE FOOTAGE OF TIMOTHY AND AMIE’S DEATH.

It was known before Herzog made the documentary that Treadwell’s camera had captured audio of his and Huguenard’s deaths, so Herzog couldn’t avoid it. After filming himself listening to the footage in front of Treadwell’s friend Jewel Palovak, Herzog immediately decided that he wouldn’t use the footage itself in the film, both out of respect for the dead and to avoid making what he called “a snuff film.”

7. HERZOG REGRETS TELLING JEWEL PALOVAK TO DESTROY THE TAPE.

Director Werner Herzog conducts media interviews prior to the Lions Gate screening of 'Grizzly Man' at the American Museum of Natural History's LeFrak Theater July 20, 2005 in New York City
Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images

Herzog's gut reaction to listening to the audio was to tell Palovak to get rid of the tapes. “But that was stupid,” he later told Paste. “Silly advice born out of the immediate shock of hearing—I mean, it’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” Palovak placed it in a bank vault instead.

8. AMIE HUGUENARD’S FAMILY REFUSED TO TAKE PART IN THE FILM.

The documentary features interviews with Treadwell’s friends, but Huguenard’s family is noticeably missing. Their refusal wasn’t out of malice specifically to Herzog’s project, though. They decided not to speak publicly in any way about Amie’s death.

9. THE MOVIE ISN’T ABOUT BEARS BEING DANGEROUS.

The ultimate message of the movie is easy to miss because Treadwell’s death looms so largely—suggesting that he was wrong about bears being safe. Except even Herzog was intent on repeating how safe they are. “Sure, you are in a certain danger, but we should not exaggerate the danger,” Herzog said. “Grizzly bears normally do not kill and attack human beings. It doesn’t happen very often. Statistics are clear since 1903 or so, there were statistics in Alaska, and more than a hundred years, not more than 12 or 14 people got killed by grizzly bears.” Herzog’s point is that Treadwell wrongly believed that nature could be tamed.

10. TREADWELL’S FRIENDS THOUGHT HE COULD DIE IN ALASKA, BUT NOT BY BEAR ATTACK.

Herzog noted that Treadwell repeatedly broached a desire to die during a fight with a bear but didn’t think a bear would kill him. His friends thought he was safe with the bears, too. “I thought he might get hurt, fall on rocks and break something, drink tainted water, but I never believed he would be killed by the bears,” Palovak said.

Reviews.org Wants to Pay You $1000 to Watch 30 Disney Movies

Razvan/iStock via Getty Images
Razvan/iStock via Getty Images

Fairy tales do come true. CBR reports that Reviews.org is currently hiring five people to watch 30 Disney movies (or 30 TV show episodes) for 30 days on the new Disney+ platform. In addition to $1000 apiece, each of the chosen Disney fanatics will receive a free year-long subscription to Disney+ and some Disney-themed movie-watching swag that includes a blanket, cups, and a popcorn popper.

The films include oldies but goodies, like Fantasia, Bambi, and A Goofy Movie, as well as Star Wars Episodes 1-7 and even the highly-anticipated series The Mandalorian. Needless to say, there are plenty of options for 30 days of feel-good entertainment.

In terms of qualifications: applicants must be over the age of 18, a U.S. resident, have the ability to make a video reviewing the films, as well as a semi-strong social media presence. On the more fantastical side, they are looking for applicants who “really, really lov[e] Disney” and joke that the perfect candidate, “Must be as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.” You can check out the details in the video below.

Want to put yourself in the running? Be sure to submit your application by Thursday, November 7 at 11:59 p.m. at the link here. And keep an eye out for Disney+, which will be available November 12.

16 Biting Facts About Fright Night

William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Charley Brewster is your typical teen: he’s got a doting mom, a girlfriend whom he loves, a wacky best friend … and an enigmatic vampire living next door.

For more than 30 years, Tom Holland’s critically acclaimed directorial debut has been a staple of Halloween movie marathons everywhere. To celebrate the season, we dug through the coffins of the horror classic in order to discover some things you might not have known about Fright Night.

1. Fright Night was based on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Or, in this case, "The Boy Who Cried Vampire." “I started to kick around the idea about how hilarious it would be if a horror movie fan thought that a vampire was living next door to him,” Holland told TVStoreOnline of the film’s genesis. “I thought that would be an interesting take on the whole Boy Who Cried Wolf thing. It really tickled my funny bone. I thought it was a charming idea, but I really didn't have a story for it.”

2. Peter Vincent made Fright Night click.

It wasn’t until Holland conceived of the character of Peter Vincent, the late-night horror movie host played by Roddy McDowall, that he really found the story. While discussing the idea with a department head at Columbia Pictures, Holland realized what The Boy Who Cried Vampire would do: “Of course, he's gonna go to Vincent Price!” Which is when the screenplay clicked. “The minute I had Peter Vincent, I had the story,” Holland told Dread Central. “Charley Brewster was the engine, but Peter Vincent was the heart.”

3. Peter Vincent is named after two horror icons.

Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.

4. The Peter Vincent role was intended for Vincent Price.

Roddy McDowall in Fright Night (1985)
Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

“Now the truth is that when I first went out with it, I was thinking of Vincent Price, but Vincent Price was not physically well at the time,” Holland said.

5. Roddy McDowall did not want to play the part like Vincent Price.

Once he was cast, Roddy McDowall made the decision that Peter Vincent was nothing like Vincent Price—specifically: he was a terrible actor. “My part is that of an old ham actor,” McDowall told Monster Land magazine in 1985. “I mean a dreadful actor. He had a moderate success in an isolated film here and there, but all very bad product. Basically, he played one character for eight or 10 films, for which he probably got paid next to nothing. Unlike stars of horror films who are very good actors and played lots of different roles, such as Peter Lorre and Vincent Price or Boris Karloff, this poor sonofabitch just played the same character all the time, which was awful.”

6. It took Holland just three weeks to write the Fright Night script.

And he had a helluva good time doing it, too. “I couldn’t stop writing,” Holland said in 2008, during a Fright Night reunion at Fright Fest. “I wrote it in about three weeks. And I was laughing the entire time, literally on the floor, kicking my feet in the air in hysterics. Because there’s something so intrinsically humorous in the basic concept. So it was always, along with the thrills and chills, something there that tickled your funny bone. It wasn’t broad comedy, but it’s a grin all the way through.”

7. Tom Holland directed Fright Night out of "self-defense."

By the time Fright Night came around, Holland was already a Hollywood veteran—just not as a director. He had spent the past two decades as an actor and writer and he told the crowd at Fright Fest that “this was the first film where I had sufficient credibility in Hollywood to be able to direct ... I had a film after Psycho 2 and before Fright Night called Scream For Help, which … I thought was so badly directed that [directing Fright Night] was self-defense. In self-defense, I wanted to protect the material, and that’s why I started directing with Fright Night."

8. Chris Sarandon had a number of reasons for not wanting to make Fright Night.

Chris Sarandon stars in 'Fright Night' (1985)
Chris Sarandon stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

At the Fright Night reunion, Chris Sarandon recalled his initial reaction to being approached about playing vampire Jerry Dandrige. "I was living in New York and I got the script,” he explained. “My agent said that someone was interested in the possibility of my doing the movie, and I said to myself, ‘There’s no way I can do a horror movie. I can’t do a vampire movie. I can’t do a movie with a first-time director.’ Not a first-time screenwriter, but first-time director. And I sat down and read the script, and I remember very vividly sitting at my desk, looked over at my then wife and said, ‘This is amazing. I don’t know. I have to meet this guy.’ And so, I came out to L.A. And I met with Tom [Holland] and our producer. And we just hit it off, and that was it.”

9. Jerry Dandridge is part fruit bat.

After doing some research into the history of vampires and the legends surrounding them, Sarandon decided that Jerry had some fruit bat in him, which is why he’s often seen snacking on fruit in the film. When asked about the 2011 remake with Colin Farrell, Sarandon commented on how much he appreciated that that specific tradition continued. “In this one, it's an apple, but in the original, Jerry ate all kinds of fruit because it was just sort of something I discovered by searching it—that most bats are not blood-sucking, but they're fruit bats,” Sarandon told io9. “And I thought well maybe somewhere in Jerry's genealogy, there's fruit bat in him, so that's why I did it.”

10. William Ragsdale learned he had booked the part of Charley Brewster on Halloween.

William Ragsdale had only ever appeared in one film before Fright Night (in a bit part). He had recently been considered for the role of Rocky Dennis in Mask, which “didn’t work out,” Ragsdale recalled. “But a few months later, [casting director] Jackie Burch tells me, ‘There’s this movie I’m casting. You might be really right for it.’ So, I had this 1976 Toyota Celica and I drove that through the San Joaquin valley desert for four or five trips down for auditioning. And in the last one, Stephen [Geoffreys] was there, Amanda [Bearse] was there and that’s when it happened. I had read the script and at the time I had been doing Shakespeare and Greek drama, so I read this thing and thought, ‘Well, God, this looks like a lot of fun. There’s no … iambic pentameter, there’s no rhymes. You know? Where’s the catharsis? Where’s the tragedy?’ … I ended up getting a call on Halloween that they had decided to use me, and I was delighted.”

11. Not being Anthony Michael Hall worked in Stephen Geoffreys's favor.

In a weird way, it was by not being Anthony Michael Hall that Stephen Geoffreys was cast as Evil Ed. “I actually met Jackie Burch, the casting director, by mistake in New York months before this movie was cast and she remembered me,” Geoffreys shared at Fright Fest. “My agent sent me for an audition for Weird Science. And Anthony Michael Hall was with the same agent that I was with, and she sent me by mistake. And Jackie looked at me when I walked into the office and said, ‘You’re not Anthony Michael Hall!’ and I’m like ‘No!’ But anyway, I sat down and I talked to Jackie for a half hour and she remembered me from that interview and called my agent, and my agent sent me the script while I was with Amanda [Bearse] in Palm Springs doing Fraternity Vacation, and I read it. It was awesome. The writing was incredible.”

12. Evil Ed wanted to be Charley Brewster.

Stephen Geoffreys stars in 'Fright Night' (1985).
Stephen Geoffreys stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Geoffreys loved the script for Fright Night. “I just got this really awesome feeling about it,” he said. “I read it and thought I’ve got to do this. I called my agent and said ‘I would love to audition for the part of Charley Brewster!’ [And he said] ‘No, Steve, you’re wanted for the part of Evil Ed.’ And I went, ‘Are you kidding me? Why? I couldn’t… What do they see in me that they think I should be this?' Well anyway, it worked out. It was awesome and I had a great time.”

13. Fright Night's original ending was much different.

The film’s original ending saw Peter Vincent transform into a vampire—while hosting “Fright Night” in front of a live television audience.

14. A ghost from Ghostbusters made a cameo in Fright Night.

Visual effects producer Richard Edlund had recently finished up work on Ghostbusters when he and his team began work on Fright Night. And the movie gave them a great reason to recycle one of the library ghosts they had created for Ghostbusters—which was deemed too scary for Ivan Reitman's PG-rated classic—and use it as a vampire bat for Fright Night.

15. Fright Night's cast and crew took it upon themselves to record some DVD commentaries.

Because the earliest DVD versions of Fright Night contained no commentary tracks, in 2008 the cast and crew partnered with Icons of Fright to record a handful of downloadable “pirate” commentary tracks about the making of the film. The tracks ended up on a limited-edition 30th anniversary Blu-ray of the film, which sold out in hours.

16. Vincent Price loved Fright Night.


Columbia Pictures

Holland had the chance to meet Vincent Price one night at a dinner party at McDowall’s. And the actor was well aware that McDowall’s character was based on him. “I was a little bit embarrassed by it,” Holland admitted. “He said it was wonderful and he thought Roddy did a wonderful job. Thank God he didn’t ask why he wasn’t cast in it.”

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