Exorcist II: The Heretic

Dir: John Boorman, 1977


This review is of the original version

Could this be one of the most underrated films of all time or is the derision poured upon it, justified?

It’s been four years since Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) was possessed by a demon and doesn’t remember anything about it.

Now 16 years old, Regan is living in New York with her guardian Sharon Spencer (Kitty Winn) and is being seen by psychiatrist Dr. Gene Tuskin (Louise Fletcher).

Father Philip Lamont (Richard Burton) is assigned to investigate Regan’s earlier exorcism which caused the death of Father Lankester Merrin (Max Von Sydow).

Dr. Tuskin believes that Regan’s memories of the exorcism are, merely, repressed and attempts to bring them out.

But, was the demon truly exorcised or is it just laying dormant?

There is no doubt that the film is a complete mess.

It’s got an incoherent storyline, and is filled with an abundance of psychobabble and pseudoscience.

A lack of a lucid narrative hampers the film and is just too choppy and jumpy.

Director, Boorman, has forgotten the fundamental rule of making a horror film; to put some horror in it.

Exorcist II has a dreamlike quality to it and relies on flashbacks and fantasy to carry the film.

The special effects, even for the seventies, are pretty ropey and are the cause of the occasional giggle.

That’s not to say that it’s all bad. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack is fairly good and has a chilling sound to it and instills a feeling of being unsettled.

Boorman is even able to conjure up some frightening scenes when the boy is possessed by Pazuzu.

It’s so unfortunate that everything around these scenes bogs everything down.

The director films it all in seriousness and expects us to go along with it.

Regan, Lamont and Tuskin are all subjected to this technique where two people are “synchronised” with hypnosis. This is done by staring into a flashing light and wearing a head band.

It’s so daft, that you can’t help but laugh.

You really have to wonder whether the cast read the script or how much was changed during shooting.

There are many well respected actors, here, that aren’t that proud of having the film on their CV.

As well acting legends Burton and Von Sydow, you’ve got Ned Beatty, James Earl Jones and Paul Henreid.

A disaster preview screening and a trampling by the critics, Exorcist II was recut and had around ten minutes removed and an alternate opening filmed.

This didn’t help the film in any way and is often regarded as one of the worst films ever made.

I wouldn’t go that far. I’ve certainly seen worse.

Exorcist II: The Heretic is a curiosity piece that is, intermittently, interesting but has very little else to recommend it.


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