Dr. Gene Tuskin works with troubled children, perhaps none more troubled than Regan MacNeil, who suffers from bad dreams and repressed memories. The memories she represses are of the time she was possessed by a demon. Dr. Tuskin's invention, a device that hypnotizes two persons and links their minds together, reveals that the demon, named Pazuzu, still lurks within her. It is desperate to emerge again and wreak havoc. Meanwhile, Father Philip Lamont is ordered by his cardinal to investigate the death of Father Merrin, the priest who died while performing an exorcism on Regan. Father Lamont undertakes his task reluctantly. He feels unworthy of his assignment. He also feels that Evil is literally an entity and that this entity is winning the battle over Good. His investigation takes him to Africa where he locates another recipient of Merrin's exorcising and learns something fascinating and terrible about locusts. Written by
THE EXORCIST (1973) is rightfully one of the big screen's most honored and successful thrillers, and much has been said about the two sequels that followed (a third sequel is reportedly on the way). This one, EXORCIST II:THE HERETIC (1977) is by no means in the same league as the original (anyone who says that it is is sure to have their taste in movies questioned). Yes, the film is unintentionally funny at times, particularly when Burton and Blair's characters stare cross-eyed at a flashing strobe light and say words like "Pazuzu" and "Kokumo". It gets a chuckle every time, gauranteed. And story and character development are a bit light here as well. But aside from that, the film works well as a departure from the thrills and chills of the original to a quite remarkable spin on the old good versus evil dynamic. We don't need to see the same film told again and the filmmakers (who are not the same as the ones who made the original save for a few of the actors and makeup genius Dick Smith)know this. The photography and Ennio Morricone's excellent (yet strange) score create a very moody atmosphere that works very well. A lot has been said about the acting on this film, too, but aside from some overacting on Kitty Winn's part, the performances are quite good and the L.A. Times even said that Burton's was one of the best of his career. Also look for the late "Diff'rent Strokes" actress Dana Plato in a small, uncredited part.
I have heard that Warner Bros. original running time was close to three hours and that all shorter versions were drastically inferior. Time to go into those vaults, boys. A DVD release of this original cut is long overdue.
Original EXORCIST : A+ EXORCIST II:THE HERETIC (118 Min. Version): B-
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