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I was fortunate enough to see the extended, three-hour plus cut of this
movie in its original preview run, and what I saw took my breath away. In
its complete state, EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC could have very well been one
of the best sequels ever made, worthy of mention in the same vein as ALIENS,
GODFATHER 2 and even TERMINATOR 2. But in their corporate "wisdom," I have
to assume that Warner Brothers figured that audiences were too impatient or
too stupid to 'get' everything that the movie was trying to say, so they
yanked creative control away from John Boorman, and recut it into the
disjointed monstrosity that most moviegoers have had the enormous misfortune
I dream that someday Mr. Boorman will be able to restore it and release a deluxe DVD edition that will leave both film buffs and critics alike absolutely speechless...and I mean in a GOOD way. Assuming, of course, that the vital footage has not been lost forever. Until then, this version deserves every bit of the ridicule it has received and then some. Die hard fans of the featured actors may still want to catch it, because the discerning eye will be able to tell from the performances of Burton, Blair, Fletcher and Kitty Winn that there's a lot of "between-the-lines" material that is missing, thereby rendering great performances from everyone involved into massive attacks of something resembling cinematic Tourette's Syndrome.
And even with the way it was wrecked, regardless of popular opinion, I still consider the score to be among the best that Morricone has ever composed for any film, (with his absolute best a tie between ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and THE UNTOUCHABLES.)
After seeing the original EXORCIST a few weeks ago on the big screen, my
first time viewing it in its entirety, I was disappointed in an
uncomfortable, lonely kind of way. While the first EXORCIST was
entertaining (my New York City audience had a collective "Prozac moment"
when Regan was told that if she took her medication then everything would
o.k., and, although I found nothing in that first movie to be truly
frightening, I did commit an unexpected amount of laughter in terms of
chronological pathos), I found the original EXORCIST to be shallow and --
unrealistic. (Perhaps my relatively young age has spoilt me in terms of
"special effects" in movies.)
However, I rented the EXORCIST II last night and was most pleasantly surprised. Although Richard Burton's character was ridiculous and the soundtrack was awkward in the extreme (due to the sappy parts of the music, not the chaotic ones), I think this movie redeemed the first one. I am speaking of THEMATIC and to a lesser degree aesthetic redemption here. I am sure my view will not be terribly popular with today's kind of audience, but I'm putting it out there anyway because it is pertinent. You see, I am somebody who's experienced demonic possession herself.
I was saddened to hear that the video version of EXORCIST II contained material which was edited out of the screen version.
Just because a film is based on what many would characterise as "fantastical" themes, it doesn't mean that the movie has to be shallow and unrealistic, which is what I found the original EXORCIST to be. Friends, WE are the dreamers and we make the dreams! While undoubtably less resources were expended in EXORCIST II in order to achieve supernatural-like effects, I can see that a great deal more thought and work went into aesthetic coherence and research. Notwithstanding Burton, the latter was a superior film. You can take my word on it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a excellent story which plays out more like an exploration of
what evil is. Its an adventure that provides a continuous unraveling of
exorcist lore whilst providing supernatural mishaps in the form of
ancient curses to keep the audience guessing what's going to happen
Its an excellent movie, I would call it a supernatural cloak and dagger. I AM glad they made it and being a fan of the first I found it to be just as excellent a sequel as I could have hoped for.
**** spoiler **** The introduction to the movie provides an amazing concept of how evil regenerates or generates itself and later it covers how its built on the collective psych of the masses. I don't know many other movies that would dare go this far as to get philosophical about evil.
Grossly underrated, Exorcist II is one of John Boorman's finest films.
Rather than go for the spinning heads and pea soup that were featured in the first film, Boorman opted to go in a less horrific and more surreal and dramatic direction. Most people claim that sequels shouldn't be a rehash of the original, well this certainly wasn't!
The acting was quite good here. The cinematography as in most every Boorman movie, is exquisite. The score by Ennio Morriconne is terrific and sets a slightly different tone from the first film.
Overall, the film has a much broader feel to it, I think because the film takes place at many places rather than confined to the room of the first film. Also, there are some elaborate special effects scenes that are breathtaking. Everyone of them quite chilling.
This isn't really what I would call an actual horror film. It's a drama involving the supernatural. I'm not sure exactly what I'd classify this as. It's a genre all it's own almost.
See it with an open mind. Forget what people have said in the past.
You just might be surprised.
Exorcist 2 The Heretic is not as good as The Exorcist or The Exorcist 3, but is still and okay movie. It focusses more on Fr Merrin and his friend, as well as when he exorcised a young boy in Africa. This film is VERY dissapointing for fans of The Exorcist because this one trys to be a horror film, but fails, it's not scary and it's angles and cinematography is not brilliant. But after all of this it is still watchable. Some people will like this one better because it is more simple and less complicated and meaningful as The Exorcist. This film was very cheap and tacky, but still manages to be watchable. I wouldn't go out and spend £20 on a DVD version of it, but is worth watchign if it is on TV or if you find a copy going cheap. This one is far more for young children rather then the adult audience that the Exorcist was aimed at. It is still a good movie with some good acting in it. The script and film could have done with a lot of worth, but is certainly not as good as The Exorcist because it trys to be somthing it isn't, it takes away the scaryness of Pazuzu. Before Exorcist 2 people thought that the possesser of Regan was THE Devil, which would have been much better, but now this film has made it look like the whole thing must become cheaper. Still - watch it if it is on or going cheap at a shop, but it is still no match against William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist Directed by William Friedkin.
"Exorcist II: The Heretic" is the 1977 follow-up to my favorite horror film
of all time, "The Exorcist". Many people consider this film to be the worst
movie sequel ever made. I didn't think "Exorcist II" was that bad, but it's
nowhere near as good as its predecessor. Linda Blair returns as Regan, the
girl who was possessed by the Devil in the original 1973 classic. Here she's
still bothered by the horrible things that happened to her when she was
living in Georgetown, Washington D.C. Fearing that the demon will possess
her once again, psychiatrist Louise Fletcher and priest Richard Burton try
to help her while Burton wants to find out what happened to Father Merrin
(Max Von Sydow), the ill-fated priest who tried to exorcise the foul-mouthed
demon out of Regan in the first movie. Some scenes in "Exorcist II: The
Heretic" are interesting. Some are preposterous. Much of the dialogue is
laughable (especially Burton's continuous ramblings about "evil"), and parts
of the movie don't make sense. The special effects are good, and Ennio
Morricone's music score is very effective (It would have been nice if they
could have replayed the eerie "Tubular Bells" theme from the first film).
But I think the main problem with "Exorcist II: The Heretic" is that it's
not real scary. "The Exorcist" was a film that scared the pants off of me
when I first saw it, and after seeing it again recently on the big screen, I
was still jolted by many of its disturbing images as well as one new one
(the "spiderwalk"). This film is pretty much devoid of chills and that's
disappointing. Also, the performances here aren't as strong as they were in
the first one. But I give the filmmakers credit for trying something
different instead of doing a retread of the original. I think "Exorcist II:
The Heretic" needed a better script. It has some good moments, but it's not
** (out of four)
It was gratifying to read another reviewer imply what I've said for
years...that if the film hadn't been made as "Exorcist II" it might have
done fairly well. Problem being that if it hadn't been "Exorcist II" it
likely would never have been made.
Discussing the film without thinking about the lurid details of its release (the laughter and booing from the audiences, or Boorman yanking the film from theatres after the first day to recut the whole thing) is a difficult task. "Exorcist II" has become, more than a film, a litmus test for sequels. In the opinion of some, no sequel has ever been this poor.
Which is unfair. Taken on its own, the movie is a curious mix of very inspired and very absurd moments and concepts. The casting is problematic and wildly uneven (Fletcher and Blair are fine, Burton is awful, and James Earl Jones steals the entire show). The script also veers from coherency to an almost surreal incompetence, sometimes in the same scene. And yet...
And yet, this is a very misunderstood film. John Boorman was a very brave and unconventional choice as director, and he certainly accomplishes some startling and innovative visual effects. He is also to be commended for attempting to examine the concepts of the original film (and novel) in a metaphysical and nonlinear fashion. I've seen both cuts of the film and find that they differ from each other very little in overall impact. The fatal flaw in either version is the film's complete failure to prepare its audience for any of this material. Audiences were led to expect a carbon-copy repeat of the original and were instead confronted with this arty, heavily psychological mood piece. Understandably, they were a little upset.....
In no way does it accomplish its goals nearly as well as "The Exorcist", but I find this a far more enjoyable experience than Blatty's own "Exorcist III", which seems to have all of the elements with no idea as to how they should be executed.
Infuriating, uneven, and quite beautiful. See it before you laugh at it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't think I've ever seen a film as ambitious as "Exorcist II: The Heretic". It makes perfect sense that anybody stepping up to direct a sequel to "The Exorcist" would have to go in some other direction than William Friedkin did with the original. There's no way they could top the ice-cold horror and vulgarity of "The Exorcist". "Exorcist II" deals with such heady and important themes as global consciousness, spontaneous healing, telepathy, technology, dreams, faith, and loss of faith. Linda Blair returns as Regan MacNeil, now four years older, who remembers her experience of possession all too well. She is still in the care of family friend Sharon (Kitty Winn, returning from the original "Exorcist") It seems Sharon left the MacNeil household for two years, but was drawn back to Regan and claims, unexpectedly and poignantly, that when she is with Regan is "the only time I'm at peace." Regan and Sharon now live in a gorgeous skyscraper with a perilous-looking balcony, and Regan has a therapist, Dr. Gene Tuskin (Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher) who works with the deaf and the autistic at a state-of-the-art, high-tech facility where she does ground-breaking work with hypnosis. Regan is plagued by memories of her possession, and by strange dreams of flying with a locust swarm over Africa. Dr. Tuskin encourages her to talk about her feelings, but it is clear that Regan isn't sure it will do either of them any good. Before long, we meet Father Lamont (Richard Burton) a priest who has come to doubt his faith. He is dispatched by the church to investigate the death of Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow, who returns to play a younger version of his doomed character from the first movie) Father Lamont visits Dr. Tuskin to ask for her support in interviewing Regan about what happened to her in Washington. Dr. Tuskin is leery but Regan is intrigued, and it is agreed that Father Lamont will observe a hypnotherapy session between them. This leads to a confrontation between Pazuzu (the spirit that still haunts Regan) and Dr. Tuskin that Father Lamont is able to witness, using a delicate machine that can synchronize the experiences of two minds. Lamont comes away from the experience galvanized to protect Regan. The story is interspersed with scenes of the earlier experiences of Father Merrin when he was exorcising Pazuzu from a young boy in Africa. This boy, Kakumo (the always-wonderful James Earl Jones) grows up to be a scientist who is studying the destructive swarm behavior of locusts. He tells Lamont of his plan to breed a "good locust", one that will calm the others and decrease their destructive behavior. Regan, meanwhile, is showing signs of being the human equivalent of the good locust. She unwittingly heals an autistic child, and seems to now have the gifts of precognition and telepathy. Father Lamont comes to believe that Regan is touched by God, and therefore is extremely important to saving the rest of mankind from evil. The principals are all drawn to Washington and back to the brownstone where Regan lived during her previous possession. Father Lamont and Regan travel together, while Sharon and Dr. Tuskin arrive soon after; but, as always, Pazuzu is keeping track, and he tries to kill Sharon and Dr. Tuskin in an automobile accident. They survive, but only until Sharon burns herself alive in an excruciating scene. Pazuzu finally appears to Lamont in the form of Regan's sexy and evil double. As bewitched as he is by her, ultimately he overcomes this and rips the very heart from the beast, bringing peace and hope to the world once more. Technically, every frame of this film is fascinating. The colors are subdued but amazing, and the imagery is always surreal and alive and moving. There are great, swirling shots in this movie that leave me swooning every time I look at them. There is a particular shot from Regan's balcony that pans the surrounding city (including an ominous-looking church) that is one of the most haunting shots I've ever seen in a film. The music of "Exorcist II", by Ennio Morricone, ranges from the energetic and primitive (over the African flying sequences) to the ethereal and exquisite "Regan's Theme". Many of the exterior Africa scenes were shot on a sound stage, and it only adds to the fantasy atmosphere. The scene of a locust swarm descending on Washington DC is truly inspired and terrifying, and the scientific locust footage has the same creepy documentary feeling of the original film. The finale of the movie is not to be missed; it is both apocalyptic and hopeful at the same time. One of the great things about the script is that it raises questions that it cannot answer. Much is left to the viewer to ponder, and I think that is part of the point. Too many films spoon-feed or condescend to audiences, and I find it refreshing that Boorman and writer William Goodheart did not do this. The quality of the performances in "Exorcist II" vary; Louise Fletcher could have tried a little harder, but nearly her entire performance is dubbed, so I'm not sure she should take all the blame. Burton's character is full of inner conflict, so his performance is quiet and tense. Kitty Winn plays Sharon very differently here than she did in "The Exorcist"; where in the first film she was mousy, here she is defiant and volcanic. James Earl Jones is naturally commanding of the screen. Linda Blair does well in her role, and looks more beautiful than in any other film, as if she is illuminated from within. During her hypnosis scenes she has the most intense and effective stare. And when she is walking trance-like across her balcony, wearing white and with her hair flowing (all in slow-motion) she is a vision of utter, innocent beauty. She is the goddess who must help deliver the world from its own worst self. She is 'the good locust'.
I doubt most people who watch or have watched this film will like it. If they do, it surely can only be for the reason that it is so poor it keeps it interesting because you keep wondering what is gonna be ballsed up next. The score is momentarily enigmatic, Reagan's Theme being particularly good. The acting is mostly dire, though how anyone else would have acted with such poor a script I do not know. The plot developments are laughable, the cinematography interesting with an attempt to be artsy though first and foremost Boorman should have made sure the film had a good script and capable actors. Despite the numerous flaws this film has, there's something about it which will keep me returning to watch it. For any Blair fans out there, she has never looked better than in this film. Arguably the only reason to watch it, except to witness the poorness for yourself.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Exorcist II: The Heretic is a difficult movie to write about. The
things that don't work or the things that are totally ridiculous are
the very reasons to watch the movie. It's an absolute mess and a
helluva good time because of it. The plot - don't worry about the plot.
It might make your head explode if you think too much about it. I'll
give it a try, but you've been warned. Since the events of the first
movie, Regan (Linda Blair) has grown to be a teenager with some sort of
mental problems and a desire to perform in really bad musicals. Her
mother has disappeared leaving her in the care of Dr. Tuskin (Louise
Fletcher). Dr. Tuskin's idea of treatment is to have Regan stare at a
blinking light bulb until she enters into a trance like state. Father
Lamont (Richard Burton) shows up to study Regan's case and to announce
at every opportunity he can find that there is still an eeeevil
presence inside Regan. From this point forward, you really need to see
it to believe it.
John Boorman had what many people would consider one of the best horror movies ever made to work with when making the sequel. But at every opportunity, he takes Exorcist II into some of the most ridiculous places imaginable. He tries to get artsy, but fails miserably and ends up making scenes that should be horrific come off as silly. Take the scene where Father Lamont snaps and goes after Regan. What should have been a shocking moment is instead incredibly funny. I'm convinced that no matter how hard you tried you couldn't make a sequel this bad on purpose.
The cast doesn't help Boorman at all. None of the three main leads escapes this movie looking good. First, there's Richard Burton. He chews through this movie and spits it out like a John Deere through foot high grass. Burton looks like a buffoon who overacts almost every moment he appears on screen. Next, there's Linda Blair. I like Linda Blair, but I've never thought she was much of an actress. And she proves this in Exorcist II. Her lines are delivered with all the conviction of a prostitute in church. And those dance numbers are just short of painful. Finally, Louise Fletcher acts throughout much of the movie as if she would rather be anywhere other than here. She comes across as bored, uninterested, and embarrassed to be part of this debacle.
There's no end to what I could write about this movie, but I'll stop here. One of the best reviews I've ever read can be found here - http://twtd.bluemountains.net.au/Rick/exorcist2.htm. You owe it to yourself to check it out.
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