Movie Name: The Exorcist II: The Heretic
Studio: Warner Bros.
Release Date(s): June 17, 1977
MPAA Rating: R
Philip Lamont (Richard Burton) is questioning his faith after an exorcism. When he is assigned to investigate the death of Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) during an exorcism, Lamont finds that the demon Pazuzu might still have control of his victim Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair). Lamont begins to work with Regan’s doctor Gene Tuskin (Louise Fletcher) to reach into Linda’s past and find a way to defeat the demon itself.
Directed by John Boorman, Exorcist II: The Heretic was the follow up to the award winning horror film The Exorcist of 1973. The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty and director William Friedken distanced themselves from this film and the movie was panned by critics. Exorcist II: The Heretic often makes it way on to “Worst Of” lists and is sometimes called one of the worst sequels of all time.
Exorcist II: The Heretic is a mess. With barely any of the cast returning, the movie barely feels like a real sequel and actually hurts the original film. The movie was hurt by tons of production problems, reshoots, and though this story shows flashbacks of Merrin’s original exorcism mentioned in The Exorcist, events in the film do not mesh with the two prequels released in 2004 and 2005.
Exorcist II: The Heretic tries way too hard. The story is far too complex with psychic ability, time regression, and possession. The movie isn’t scary, and it isn’t shocking like The Exorcist. Instead, it is a big bore. What had been a great story with complex characters is dumbed down to a generic story without much going on it but still too complex to really understand. It reaches the epitome of bad with Regan exorcising Pazuzu in an African ritual complete with locusts.
While The Exorcist was filled with great performances, Exorcist II was filled with awful performances. Burton’s role was a coveted role with Jon Voight, Christopher Walken, David Carradine, and Jack Nicholson considered, but most reports had Burton drinking heavily through the film’s production. Louise Fletcher got the role due to her success in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and as a result the role of Dr. Tuskin became a female. Linda Blair is awful as the teenage Regan (complete with psychic abilities), and she has stated that she regrets the role. One of the only other actors to return from the original film was Kitty Winn who randomly kills herself under Pazuzu’s control. The movie also features James Earl Jones as the adult Kokumo the boy saved by Merrin and Ned Beatty as a pilot.
Visually, Exorcist II: The Heretics fails as well. The Exorcist was one of the initial film to kick off “the blockbuster” and part of the reason was the insane special effects. Here we get little impressive visuals and weird set location shots…gone are the projectile vomit and all you get is locusts in its place.
Exorcist II: The Heretic is an awful movie. It is long, poorly made, and a bad follow-up to a great movie. Watching Exorcist II: The Heretic will probably leave a bad taste in your mouth, but try to remember how great of a movie The Exorcist was. Exorcist II: The Heretic is followed by The Exorcist III in 1989.
The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist III (1990)
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)