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Wow. What can one say? Boorman went from Deliverance to this? Okay, in addition to being completely hilarious, this is also the most pretentious movie ever made, (aside from The Matrix Reloaded). Good thing Burstyn sat out for this turkey. Please tell me that I didn't see James Earl Jones in a big locust suit. Please tell me that I didn't see Oscar Winner Louise Fletcher being groped by a matted Linda Blair stand in and moaning (I am not making this up) in such a way that would make Ron Jeremy take notice. And what in the name of all things good and holy is a "Synchronizer" and what does it have to do with anything at all? Why is Africa made of fiber-glass? Why is Richard Burton made of stone? Oh, God. They couldn't have made this worse if they had scripted it so. Oh, wait...they did. Well, for all its faults at least it's not a desperate attempt by a major studio to milk whatever money they can out of a pre-existing hit by combining a-list actors, and a controversial visualist director, with a hastily prepared screenplay that shares little of the spirit and intelligence of its predecessor, producing a boring, although often laughably pious bastardization of something far, far greater. Oh wait....it is. If you're a fan of bad movies, you have reached Zen here. If you're a fan of the original Exorcist, run, just run and don't look back. Run with your arms flailing into the night as the preview audiences surely did in 1977.
Inside this terrible film is an excellent film screaming to get out. There are moments of real power and and frightening beauty, but they are drowning in sludge. One wonders if this mixture is a result of conflict amongst those making the film, or of Boorman simply not being able to keep his grasp of a vision.
Poor John Boorman. He has all these great ideas, but whenever he tries
to put them to the screen, the result is so damn goofy you can't tell
whether you're watching a metaphysical drama or a slapstick comedy (for
more on this, see "Zardoz"). His "Exorcist" sequel is miles below the
original if you're looking for scares, but miles above it in terms of
actual storytelling, plot, character development, etc. It's full of
interesting ideas (the most interesting being the idea of pure goodness
as a magnet for evil), and Regan turns into an angelic heroine out to
stop the demon that once possessed her. But Boorman's wacko imagery,
while fascinating in places (the doves, the locusts), tends to get a
little TOO wacko, to the point where you can't help laughing (the
hypnosis machine, Richard Burton putting out a fire with a wooden
crutch, James Earl Jones spitting up a tomato).
If you can accept the fact that this is a completely different movie than the original, you might find that it's a pretty good movie on its own. Fantastic acting from Burton, a wonderful score, and some truly gorgeous visuals, especially the climactic scene in the house, make it one of the most underrated movies of all time. Even if some scenes leave you falling over with laughter.
I liked this when it came out and I still do. The bad press on it began
immediately, and all the reviewers jumped on the bandwagon; only one of
the reviews seemed to correlate with what showed on the screen. I think
the time was wrong for mysticism, and maybe for religion: the sixties
had ended, and the mode of fantasy then in favor was space fantasy,
full of technical detail. A couple of decades later, the climate is
different: "Stigmata", which has a story not unlike that of "Exorcist
II," and looks and feels so much like it that it might almost be the
same film with different actors morphed in, didn't get good reviews but
wasn't laughed out of theatres either.
Most of the people who like "Exorcist II" tend not to have liked "Exorcist I" much, and vice versa. Blatty himself said in one interview that it didn't work because the director was a Protestant, and in another interview that it was because he wasn't a believer. To me the second film shows more spiritual feeling than the first, but no interest at all in the Church, and maybe in some minds that equates to unreligiousness.
The first "Exorcist" purported to be about possession, but most of its imagery was of a young girl being raped: by her mother's party guests, by doctors, by priests, by a crucifix. "Exorcist II" actually is about possession, among other things, and culminates in the interesting idea (excised after release but later restored on video and DVD) that people who have been possessed and purged of evil can go forth to heal all the others who are similarly afflicted. I happen to think that's an inspiring idea for a story.
But then I like mystical thrillers, and apparently most filmgoers don't--or didn't then. The first "Exorcist" was not one; this is. The images in the first film, when they don't involve repulsive bodily detail, have no metaphysical resonance; they're relentlessly physical, often sexual, and when the demon itself appears, it's in the form of the actual, literal statue. By contrast the images in "Exorcist II" have deliberate metaphysical implications. I doubt that they were worked out thoroughly; it's more as if Boorman were playing with them, in the same way he lets the light play through the stylized sets and behind the actors. The scenes of possession capture the sense of historical accounts of the phenomenon more than those in the first film, which is too much distracted by physical threat and sexual aberration.
Like "Exorcist II" or no, take it seriously or no, I was and am puzzled why more people were unable to enjoy its appeal to the eye and the ear (the music was pretty too), let alone to the imagination. I think perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to enjoy it: that they had to deride it and be seen to deride it because what it said, or the way in which it was said, was something that they had just learned to reject or that contradicted something they had just learned to believe.
It must be admitted that the film is unsatisfactory dramatically. The fantastic incidents of the first film, besides being reduced to the most prosaic physical terms, were fitted within a sequence of conventional, punchy, easily playable scenes; one cared about Ellen Burstyn's problems in a movieish way, and through her Linda Blair's. In the sequel Blair doesn't have the scenes to play, and her inexperience as an actress keeps one from feeling involved with her; Burton is better, but his dialogue doesn't communicate the spiritual dilemma he's undergoing. The excitements of the narrative tend rather to distract from this also. But I found them fun in their own right, and the film as well, apart from the occasional gratuitous shock for shock's sake: fun for the mind and the fancy.
Some people say this movie is horrible, though I actually found it
quite entertaining. I think the problem is the high expectations. The
expectations for the movie were so great that there was just no way
that it could be achieved. People habitually compare Exorcist II to the
original exorcist movie, but as it's own movie, it is actually better
than most horrors out there.
The scientific part was actually quite interesting to me, and the metaphor was excellent foreshadowing. Linda Blair has grown since the first exorcist, and was very good as an actress.
While not as scary as the original, this movie was filled with mystery and suspense. I recommend this movie to most fans.
Do I recommend seeing the Exorcist II? You bet I do! It's so ridiculously bad, you're sure to enjoy yourself. You will laugh out loud at the hypnotism scene. Your sides will hurt at the priest's attempts to put out a fire with a crutch. And was Richard Burton possessed by William Shatner for this movie? One of the best bad movies ever. Someday they'll make a movie about this movie, I'm sure of it. The director didn't like the original Exorcist! Who hires a director for a sequel when he disliked the original? And this was the most expensive movie produced by Warner Bros. at the time? Where did it all go?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't think anyone knew what hit them when The Exorcist was released
in the theaters in 1973. Still to this day it remains one of the most
terrifying movies of all time and is also incredibly popular. But when
it was released, I'm sure a lot of people were a little curious what
would happen to Chris and Regan after the exorcism and what really did
happen to Father Merrin in that bedroom. However some questions are
better left unanswered because we got a lot of the answers in Exorcist
2: The Herotic, one of the weirdest movies ever released. Also when I
say answers, I mean the garbled up, taken by aliens, experimented on,
thrown back up by the aliens onto Earth mixed in with some acid and put
onto the silver screen where it was booed out of theaters. It was
immediately removed and edited like crazy and still there was no way
the audience was going to ever give this film a chance.
Lamont is assigned by the Cardinal to investigate the death of Father Merrin, who had been killed four years prior in the course of exorcising the demon Pazuzu from Regan MacNeil. Regan, although now seemingly normal and staying with guardian Sharon Spencer in New York, continues to be monitored at a psychiatric institute by Dr. Gene Tuskin. Regan claims she remembers nothing about her plight in Washington, D.C., but Tuskin believes her memories are only buried or repressed. Father Lamont visits the institute but his attempts to question Regan about the circumstances of Father Merrin's death are rebuffed by Dr. Tuskin. In an attempt to plumb her memories of the exorcism, specifically the circumstances in which Merrin died, Dr. Tuskin hypnotizes the girl, to whom she is linked by a "synchronizer", a biofeedback device used by two people to synchronize their brainwaves. We see what really happened to Merrin and the times that he did face the demon prior to Regan.
Exorcist 2 certainly is a bad movie, however, I must give some credit as it's a really interesting story. It's just made with the wrong people and was directed by a man who hated the first film. I think that's why it's a bad movie in some sense, it seemed to disrespect the original. Also them repeating the demon's name "Pazuzu" was just annoying and makes the demon sound less frightening. One of the things I loved about the original is that the demon that possessed Regan was kept a secret and left up to interpretation, she says she's the devil but Kerris brings up the point where that's like saying you're Napoleon Bonaparte. Then Merrin brought up that the demon is a liar, so we could deny that she's the devil himself. But giving the name Pazuzu just didn't work, well at least when you say it more than a dozen times. James Earl Jones and the locust costume was just way too funny and the funny thing is this movie was released the same year as Star Wars, wouldn't it be hilarious if he got off the set and went to do the voice work as Darth Vader in that costume?! Exorcist 2 is not the worst movie of all time, it had tremendous potential with the story, but due to the people that were working on it, it just was doomed to not hold a candle to the original. I would say that this movie is a skip, if you want to see this movie I recommend just taking acid and watching the first film.
OK so maybe this movie wasn't as good as the original, but honestly ask yourself Is it possible to create a movie as good as The Exorcist without recreating it? I think not. It had in my opinion a very good plot. I thought it was very cool how they went into detail about the past of Father Merrin while still focusing on what Regan is going through, and I'm glad they didn't do the same monster. I really liked how they set Father Lemont up to have to choose between the angelic Regan and the sinful Regan,and speaking of Regan Linda Blair was awesome. Going back to the end, I love how even though they looked the same and were dressed the same she managed to make the costume work, and make it look like an innocent sort of dress for one, yet at the same time the evil Regan looked sexy in the same dress!All in all I thought it was a darn good sequel and give it a 7/10!
As the most of the commentators argued here, this film has some serious
flaws which make it very hard to comprehend. The story line is
the acting disjointed and inadequate, not to mention that it represents a
new conceptual whole, essentially detached from its predecessor. Still,
has certain qualities - some original visual effects, photography, great
atmosphere (especially the scenes in Africa).
Also, put in a broader context, this film manages to capture a part of intellectual ambiance of the late seventies, introducing ideas and concepts that were then considered pseudo-scientific and fanciful, only to become legitimate subject matter of serious research, two decades later. The collapse of humanity into one group mind (obvious references to de Chardin's notion of noosphere, drawn by father Lamont), the parallels between insect (locust) and human society regarding the spread of destructive/violent behavior (check mass psychology, research on swarm intelligence, the popularity of Steven Johnson's 'Emergence' etc.)
So, for those of you expecting horror movie chills and thrills - you should skip this one. But for those of you interested in how quirky scientific ideas inspire pop-culture pieces like 'The Heretic' - it is highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Exorcist II: The Heretic" was an A-list effort at every stage of production and no expense was spared by the studio in making not just a sequel but an event. Director John Boorman sought to create a vast tapestry of science & mysticism so large it would not only expand "the Exorcist" mythology but engulf it entirely. And despite some flaws, he succeeded brilliantly with a superlative cast and state-of-the-art special effects. This was one of the most ambitious and antiscipated films of 1977 and on its' 30th anniversary feels as fresh and relevant as the day of its' release, with themes of redemption, sacrifice, the triumph of good over evil and the importance of spirituality in the shared human consciousness. From the surreal African landscapes to the dizzying heights of ultra-modern New York, from the present and into the past you will journey with director Boorman as you unlock the mystery behind demonic possession in order to glimpse the future and what lies in store for humankind because of the exorcist.
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