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Exorcist II: The Heretic

March 20th, 2009 by unkle lancifer · 12 Comments

I’ve been seeing so many good movies lately that I’ve been scraping dangerously close to having a positive outlook on life. Knowing in my heart of hearts that my contentment is the first sign of the apocalypse, I decided to do us all a favor and sabotage myself before it starts raining frogs. What better film to throw my winning streak off the rails than the most hated sequel ever to come down the pike? I’m talking of course about JOHN BOORMAN’s loopy audience displeaser EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC. If this renowned stinker couldn’t shoot down my happy balloon what could?

The first and only time I had ever seen this movie I was a preteen KIM WILDE enthusiast at my cousin’s house and it was on their fancy pay cable channel. I was very into seeing it and very into it scaring the crap out of me. What I was not into was what actually ended up happing because I’m pretty sure I ended up with my face in a shag carpet fast asleep with a melted grape popsicle in my hand. How could a possession movie not scare a kid who was terrified of the red devil figure on the Underwood Deviled Ham can? (The answer to that question turns out to be very simple, just add tap dancing sequences, a hypnotic strobe light and a plethora of locusts).

Whatever the problem is with EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC it’s certainly not the cinematography, more often than not, this is a gorgeous looking film. Maybe not in a way that is particularly appropriate for an EXORCIST sequel, but arresting nonetheless. Visual effects artist ALBERT WHITLOCK shows his deft abilities on several occasions (a simple shot of an airplane in flight is stunning) so no complaints there. The soundtrack too, care of master ENNIO MORRICONE is well above par. So as the kids say, “Where’s the beef?” Well, it just so happens that everything else going on in this movie is absolutely flip your LIDSVILLE crazy. Some of its ideas are interesting (the concept of the more “good” you are, the more “evil” you attract at least explains why my lunch money was stolen throughout grade school), yet unless the goal was to drive the audience insane or into fits of laughter, it’s still a mystery how this apple fell so damn far from the tree.

Putting aside that the entire approach to the story is a bit of a snub to the original film’s fans and the fact that much of the dialogue, though thoughtful towards the metaphysical, doesn’t quite resemble human speech, let us now talk about the acting. What a cast huh? RICHARD BURTON, LOUISE FLETCHER, MAX VON SYDOW, JAMES EARL JONES and returning champ LINDA BLAIR, could you ask for anything more (I mean, besides ELLEN BURSTYN)?

Here is where the movie becomes either the worst atrocity you have ever seen or the most riveting display ever committed to film and it all depends on how drunk you are. I for one am convinced that bombastic BURTON at one point looked directly at the camera to tell the audience that what they were experiencing was “fascinating,” did I imagine that? Was that some kind of desperate plea to keep people in their seats? On the other end of the acting spectrum is LOUISE FLETCHER who can usually turn me to stone with a single cobra gaze but is inexplicably wishy-washy throughout this movie even while getting totally felt up by a demon. Then there is JAMES EARL JONES, well… give him a break he had to wear a locust hat. As far as our Miss BLAIR, well she fluctuates between a grinning Moonie any reasonable person would avoid at an airport and a frat house roofie victim. Only SYDOW escapes with dignity in tact and he’s playing the dead guy.

So needless to say as wretched as this movie is known to be, it in fact did not ruin my night! It was still a little boring in places, but as an adult I couldn’t wait to see what kind of craziness was around the corner. For better or for worse, BOORMAN certainly did his own thing. It was probably more of his ZARDOZ thing than his DELIVERANCE thing but at least you get the idea that somebody was behind the wheel (even as they are crashing into your flower bed). Is it a worthy successor to the EXORCIST? Oh, not by the longest stretch you could possibly imagine, but it is an oddity unto itself and as bizarre as they come. I don’t think it’s fair to call it the worst movie ever made, but I think it’s probably still O.K. to refer to it as the most disappointing sequel of all time (sorry GEORGE LUCAS). Maybe BURTON’s assessment was accurate after all, “fascinating” just about covers it. I would have preferred “scary” or “comprehensible” but I can’t be too harsh on any movie that sports a young, slightly buck toothed DANA PLATO.

NOTE: Can anything prepare a person for one of the most insane movies ever made? How about the most completely off the wall trailer ever made? Careful, it’s addictive!

And perhaps even more addictive is this little number…

Tags: Repeat Offenders · Tykes in Trouble

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 isaacNo Gravatar // Mar 20, 2009 at 6:58 am

    hearing the music in the first trailer, i totally picture regan macneil as a 1980s tv detective… she and pazuzu taking down perps on the mean streets of new york city. it would be awesome!

  • 2 RATSAWGODNo Gravatar // Mar 20, 2009 at 9:05 am


  • 3 NiNiNo Gravatar // Mar 20, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    I vaguely remember seeing this ages ago when my tivo picked it up, and being tremendously amused by: a) the locust-cam, b) James Earl Jones in the stupid locust hat, and c) Linda Blair’s wholesomely bouncing boobies.

    But even the WTF of the movie can’t touch the sheer WTF of the trailer! I can’t even imagine what drugs might have made that seem like a good idea to the studio. ^^;;

  • 4 Pax RomanoNo Gravatar // Mar 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I saw this piece of garbage in a theater when it first opened.  Half of the audience was laughing out loud, and the other half, left before the movie ended.

    My fave character?  Ned Beatty as Ecumenical Eddie!

  • 5 bluerosekillerNo Gravatar // Mar 23, 2009 at 9:04 pm


    I was really happy to see a piece on this film pop up here.

     I can’t remember for sure, but I may have actually seen this flick before the original. What with it’s debuting on HBO sometime in 1979 during one of my frequent visits to my grandparent’s place ( in Amherst, NY which had cable television quite a few years before we FINALLY got it in my hometown of Lockport about 15 miles north in 1980 ).

    I’d read Blatty’s novel a couple of years earlier, but had to wait for one of THE EXORCIST’s frequent theatrical re-issues before I was able to view the film.

    Anyhow, I thought EXORCIST II was the shit!
    Honestly, no foolin’. As nonsensical as the screenplay is & as silly as much of it is upon repeat viewings every one in a while these days, it still stands as a guilty pleasure of mine.

    Much of which stands on it being a beautifully shot film & the fact that my then-17 year old self developed a major crush on Linda Blair from watching it.
    I even loved the soundtrack music & probably drove my Mother insane with my frequent playings of the disco-esque theme that played over the final credits & was a huge part of it’s trailer.   LOL!

    I really DO need to pick this one up on DVD though as it’s somehow always managed to fall through the cracks & escaped becoming a part of my collection. A sitch I have to remedy soon, just so that I can FINALLY see the alternative ending that was reshot or reedited during the early weeks of the sequel’s release.

    Can anyone out there relate to me the differences between the two?   Please?

    Many thanks & peace.

                                                            – Jim

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Mar 23, 2009 at 9:21 pm


    I think the biggest difference is the ending but here is a link to imdb with a full list of the differences in the alternate versions.
    I highly recommend getting this movie on dvd. I have a box set of all the films and I think it was really cheap.
    I am so glad that I finally sat down and watched part 2 again. I was really worried that it was going to be slow and boring like I remembered and it really wasn’t.
    It’s silly and weird and bizarre and maybe even a travesty but I think it’s a lot of fun too. I just can’t resist that Linda Blair!!
    Can you believe I’m not only thinking about watching it again but forcing it on Aunt John as well?

  • 7 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Mar 23, 2009 at 9:23 pm


    I can’t believe that Ned was in the opening credits and then was in the movie for like two seconds.

  • 8 Final GirlNo Gravatar // Mar 23, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    That first trailer is just UNBELIEVABLE. Really, it just doesn’t compute…yet it’s possibly the most awesome thing ever.

    Incidentally, Louise Fletcher is white hot in that shit!

  • 9 BlackwingroseNo Gravatar // Aug 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I remember as a kid my cousin showing me the end and us having huge fun mocking what we perceived the ending to be: Linda Blair saving the world by twirling around and around.
    I really need to watch this whole movie one day. The fact that I hate the first film might make the sequel that much better for me, lol.

  • 10 Drew BluddNo Gravatar // Jan 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I have to be a creepy Internet guy here and say Linda Blair is incredibly cute in this movie. I mean, that scene where she talks to Dana Plato? What a little knockouts.

    Ok I’m done.

  • 11 Drew BluddNo Gravatar // Jan 6, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Knockouts. Not “knockouts.” I bate auto correct.

  • 12 Drew BluddNo Gravatar // Jan 6, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I give up

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