Over the years, I’ve probably watched The Exorcist at least 10 times. It is an undeniable classic in horror cinema and everyone knows it. I haven’t, however, ever watched any of the sequels that came after it. Hell, most of the time, I forget that the sequels even exist. With a brand new home release on the horizon, I figured there was no better time to finally check out John Boorman’s Exorcist II: The Heretic.
Four years after Regan (Linda Blair) was exorcised of her demon, an investigation into the death of Father Merrin is launched with Father Philip Lamont (Richard Burton) at the forefront. With the help of Regan’s therapist and a transference device, Father Lamont’s job gets much easier as he is able to see into Regan’s memories and see the horror for himself.
There are people out there that share the common belief that certain films don’t need any type of sequel or follow-up because it tarnishes the legacy of the original piece. While I’m not sure this one necessarily tarnishes anything, it sure as Hell did not need to be made… at least not the way the final product turned out anyway. According to Linda Blair herself, the original script for Exorcist II: The Heretic was a well-written, wonderful story. That, however, is not the film that John Boorman and the rest of the cast and crew ended up creating.
The Exorcist II is jam-packed with tremendously talented performers such as Richard Burton and James Earl Jones and features a score by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Sadly, their talent and contributions aren’t enough to make this film any more enjoyable. The pacing is sluggish at best and the plot is incoherent and irrelevant. We are taken to Africa and back at multiple points throughout the film, in both dreamlike/hypnosis sequences and reality, in hopes of finding the answers regarding the origin of the demon, Pazuzu. While this origin story may sound good in writing, it was executed so poorly that it never really found its footing.
Exorcist II: The Heretic is less of a horror movie and more of an exercise in testing one’s patience. It was extremely difficult for me to get through and I don’t think I will ever be visiting this one again. I wish there were some redeeming qualities to discuss here, but I really can’t think of any. Even the scenes that seemed to be a callback to the possessed version of Regan from the first film look like poor imitations, only worthy perhaps of a Halloween costume.
Although the film itself is not very good, there is a brand new home release coming from Scream! Factory that still may be worth some fans’ time and hard-earned money. Like always, Scream! has included reversible artwork in this Collector’s Edition, along with brand new interviews with Linda Blair and the film’s Editor, Tom Priestley. The release also includes two different cuts of the film, both remastered from original film elements. If you’re a completist and already own all previous Scream! Factory titles, you will have to get this one, too. Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself on Tuesday, September 25.
Sadly, my repulsive rating for this one is only 1 swarm of locusts out of 5.