Exorcist 2 : The Heretic title

Tag line : It's four years later, what does she remember?

Exorcist 2 : The HereticEager to cash in on the success of The Exorcist, Warner Bros inevitably decided to film a sequel. Whilst author William Peter Blatty had published a follow up to his Exorcist novel entitled "Legion", Warner thought they knew better and chose instead to script their own sequel.

Hiring acclaimed Oscar winning director John Boorman, along with original cast members Linda Blair, Kitty Winn, and Max Von Sydow they obviously thought they were onto a winner. What they managed instead was to follow up one of the greatest horror films of all time, with one of the worst sequels in cinematic history.

Set some 4 years after the first film, it turns out that young Regan (Linda Blair) was actually possessed by a demon named Pazuzu, and not the devil as we had been told previously. She is presently living with her mother's friend Sharon (Kitty Winn) in California, where she's having to undergo severe counselling treatment for the trauma she suffered in part 1.

A Priest named Father Lamont (Richard Burton) has been asked by the church to investigate the events surrounding Father Merrin's death, and so visits young Regan at the psychiatric centre where we are then treated to a bizarre scene where Regan pulls her psychologist into one of her nightmare visions using a hypnosis machine, and Father Lamont has to go in and bring her back out. Afterwards, he spots a picture she has painted, and suddenly leaps to the conclusion that the building is on fire (Eh?).

Discovering that Regan is still actually possessed, he travels to Africa to locate a person who Father Merrin had exorcised years earlier, in order to find out some info on fighting this demon. The already confused plot then starts to fly off at tangents about locust plagues, and the attempts of modern technology to try and combat them. The relevance of this is not properly explained and fairly hard to fathom.

The plot continues into further nonsensical absurdity, as Lamont becomes possessed by Pazuzu and heads on back to Regan's old house in Washington (why?), Regan grabs the hypnosis machine and follows him, saying that the ghost of Father Merrin will help them, and the whole thing ends up with the house being destroyed by a swarm of locusts and Regan fending them off by swinging a piece of cord around her head (yes it IS as bad as it sounds).

Apparently the film was supposed to be about the conflict of ancient beliefs with modern science and technology. But unfortunately, the film amounts to little more than a confusing mish-mash of different ideas. I think John Boorman must have been smoking something peculiar when envisioning this effort, and if you loved the original you're best avoiding it, unless you are a completist and want to collect the whole series.

Overall Marks : 3/10.
(As one reviewer described the film, "Linda Blair is still possessed, and Richard Burton does his worst to save her!".)

Terrifying Trivia.

  • The directing job was originally offered to Stanley Kubrick.

  • During filming, director Boorman contracted a rare virus called San Joaquin Valley Fever. Apparently he picked this up from the dust in the African sets of the film, and caused filming to be suspended for 5 weeks.

  • The film features appearances from several well known actors, who turn up in minor roles. Ned Beatty appears as a aeroplane pilot, James Earl Jones turns up as an African scientist, and Louise Fletcher stars as Regan's psychologist Dr Tuskin (Trek fans will know her from her role as Kai Winn from Star Trek : Deep Space Nine).

  • The flashback scene's showing the possessed Regan were filmed using a double, as Linda Blair refused to be subjected to the make-up process again.

  • There are at least 3 different versions of the film that have been released to date. The original version was 117 minutes long, but after it's premiere Boorman decided to re-edit the film, which then ran at 110 minutes. This version, which was released commercially to theatres in the US and UK, added a prologue recapping the events of the first film with Richard Burton narrating over a series of still images, used stock shots of the possessed Regan for the films climax (instead of new footage of Linda Blair's make-up double), cut out much of the Lamont's dialogue and had an alternate ending where Father Lamont (Burton) is killed (in the original cut he survived and ran off with Regan to help her to become a force of good). The European version is said to be different again.

  • The UK video was of the re-edited theatrical version. The US R1 DVD, and current UK R2 DVD is of the original (longer) version. This version has also been shown on the UK Sci-Fi channel.

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