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Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) Poster

Trivia

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William Friedkin, director of the first film, told a story, recalled to by a Warner Bros. executive, at the Chicago Critics Film Festival in April 2013. Studio heads came to the sneak preview of "Exorcist II" in a limo, and told the drivers to go get fast food. They entered the auditorium, and within 10 minutes into the film, an audience member stood up, glanced into the crowd, and proclaimed: "The people who made this piece of shit are in this room!" 10 or 12 other audience members gathered to find the executives. The heads rushed out of the theater and realized that there were no cars to make their escape. They were subsequently chased down the street by a group of angry audience members.
The original cast and crew of The Exorcist (1973) were very much opposed to a sequel. William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty actually met to discuss ideas at one point, but when they failed to develop a suitable premise, they abandoned the project. Both Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn turned down repeated offers by the studio, though Blair eventually agreed to return when presented with what she considered a good script. However, according to Blair, due to various rewrites the script ended up a total mess. By that point, however, she was contractually bound to a sequel, and unable to drop out of the project.
Linda Blair refused to be subjected to the makeup she wore in the first film. In flashback scenes, the possessed Regan was played by a double.
The original, opening night version of this film was so poorly received that the audience at a theater on Hollywood Blvd. actually threw things at the screen to express their disgust when it was over.
Stanley Kubrick turned down the offer to direct. When John Boorman accepted, Kubrick warned him that the only way a sequel to "The Exorcist" would succeed is if it were to be more graphic and horrific than the original.
At the time of its release, this was the most expensive film produced by Warner Bros.
Although widely regarded as a flop, the film was actually the only one of the sequels/prequels to show a profit on its theatrical release despite being a major underperformer and a critical embarrassment to the studio. However, the film's critical reception was so bad that plans for a second sequel were promptly dropped.
On the night of the premiere, the movie was literally laughed off the screen. Things were tolerable until the "synchronizer" machine was introduced, and it went straight downhill from there.
Linda Blair has said that Richard Burton started out sober, but frequently became drunk during the middle and end of filming. She also says that tensions were high among the cast.
Director John Boorman pulled the film out of theaters twice to do some more editing.
Linda Blair has stated in interviews that she and Richard Burton got along beautifully and that he would often come around her quoting William Shakespeare.
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William Peter Blatty, author of the original novel, reportedly had to stifle his own laughter upon viewing the film at the premiere.
John Boorman was originally offered the opportunity to direct The Exorcist (1973) but passed because he found the script repulsive. Instead, he made Zardoz (1974).
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John Boorman filmed the scene on Regan's balcony, which isn't a set, knowing full well he had no way of catching Linda Blair if she fell. Her screams of fear are real.
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In one scene (lasting eight minutes and ten seconds), the camera cuts to close-ups of Lamont in which he's neither moving nor speaking, 26 times (not counting genuine reaction shots).
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Richard Burton only agreed to make the film in return for Columbia casting him as Dr. Martin Dysart in Equus (1977), which he had played on stage.
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Original rough cut of the movie was 3 hours long. Amongst the scenes which were deleted from the final version there was a special effects sequence of the African church being destroyed by the demon.
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Linda Blair was already in the midst of her drug habits and constantly turned up late to shooting, to the point where she actually considered it an achievement that she was only 20 minutes late one day.
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In one of the last scenes, when the house is shaking and the bed rolling, Linda Blair fell off the bed into a crack in the floor. Viewing dailies showed this to be a superior way of dealing with Blair's character, but a stagehand jumped into the scene to rescue her from injury and the shot was unusable.
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Although it is often regarded as not only the worst film in the series but also one of the worst sequels ever made and one of the worst movies ever made in general, over the years it has developed a cult following especially among fans of John Boorman.
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Originally, the script had a major role for Lee J. Cobb's character of "Lt. Kinderman" from the first film, but upon Cobb's death the entire film was reworked. The script for "The Heretic" apparently bore no resemblance to William Peter Blatty's "Legion", which was later made into The Exorcist III (1990) and featured "Lt. Kinderman" (then played by George C. Scott) in a starring role.
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Jon Voight originally agreed to play Father Lamont before dropping out over concerns with the screenplay. David Carradine and Jack Nicholson were considered to play the part: the studio rejected Carradine due to an ongoing dispute with him over his Kung Fu (1972) TV series, while Nicholson's salary demands were deemed too high.
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When the role of Dr. Tuskin was still written as male, Alan Arkin, Richard Dreyfuss, Chris Sarandon, George Segal, Martin Sheen, Gene Wilder and David Carradine were considered. Director John Boorman passed on Sarandon, and Segal's salary demands were too high. When the decision was made to make Dr. Tuskin a woman, the screenwriter suggested Jane Fonda or Ann-Margret before Boorman decided upon Louise Fletcher who was originally cast as Chris MacNeil when the role was still in the script.
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The swarms of locusts were realized by painting a few thousand Styrofoam packing peanuts brown and shooting them out of a large air blower. Director John Boorman had experimented with a number of techniques to get actual grasshoppers to swarm around (including clipping their legs off so they couldn't land!), but none were convincing enough for him, so they used the peanuts (nicknamed "Larrys" by the crew).
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The production was refused permission to film at just about every location they asked for (including the house from the first film), leading to them having to recreate everything on the studio backlot and inflating the $9,000,000 budget all the way up to $14,000,000.
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John Boorman was unhappy with William Goodhart's script, and asked Goodhart to do a rewrite, incorporating ideas from Rospo Pallenberg. Goodhart refused, and so the script was subsequently rewritten by Pallenberg and Boorman. Goodhart's script was being constantly rewritten as the film was shooting, with the filmmakers uncertain as to how the story should end. Linda Blair recalls "It was a really good script at first. Then after everybody signed on they rewrote it five times and it ended up nothing like the same movie."
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William Friedkin recalled seeing the film - "I was at Technicolor and a guy said 'We just finished a print of Exorcist II, do you wanna have a look at it?' And I looked at half an hour of it and I thought it was as bad as seeing a traffic accident in the street. It was horrible. It's just a stupid mess made by a dumb guy - John Boorman by name, somebody who should be nameless but in this case should be named. Scurrilous. A horrible picture." Friedkin later stated that this sequel diminished the value of the original and called it "one of the worst films I've ever seen". He later added, "That film was made by a demented mind".
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William Peter Blatty claimed to have been the first person to start laughing at the theater at which he saw the film, only to be followed by the other patrons ("You'd think we were watching The Producers (1967)).
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During the filming, director John Boorman contracted San Joaquin Valley Fever (a respiratory fungal infection), which caused filming to be suspended for five weeks. It was determined to be caused from the dust used in the African sets from the film.
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Because of her resemblance to Ellen Burstyn, Louise Fletcher was originally cast as Chris MacNeil when Burstyn had refused to reprise her role. Fletcher was eventually re-cast as Dr. Gene Tuskin, a role originally written for a man, when a suitable male actor couldn't be found and as a result Kitty Winn was contacted to reprise her role as Regan's nanny Sharon Spencer to fill in for Regan's mother.
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This film is listed among the Top Ten Best Bad Films ever made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE MOVIE GUIDE.
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In a 2005 interview, John Boorman remarked:

"it all comes down to audience expectations. The film that I made, I saw as a kind of riposte to the ugliness and darkness of The Exorcist - I wanted a film about journeys that was positive, about good, essentially. And I think that audiences, in hindsight, were right. I denied them what they wanted and they were pissed off about it - quite rightly, I knew I wasn't giving them what they wanted and it was a really foolish choice. The film itself, I think, is an interesting one - there's some good work in it - but when they came to me with it I told John Calley, who was running Warner Bros. then, that I didn't want it. "Look," I said, "I have daughters, I don't want to make a film about torturing a child," which is how I saw the original film. But then I read a three-page treatment for a sequel written by a man named William Goodhart and I was really intrigued by it because it was about goodness. I saw it then as a chance to film a riposte to the first picture. But it had one of the most disastrous openings ever - there were riots! And we recut the actual prints in the theatres, about six a day, but it didn't help of course and I couldn't bear to talk about it, or look at it, for years."
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Final film of Paul Henreid.
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William O'Malley was contacted to reprise his role as Father Joseph Dyer from the first film. However, O'Malley was busy and could not take up the part, and the character of Father Dyer was changed to Father Philip Lamont.
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William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty were repeatedly asked for ideas for a sequel, but turned the studio down on finding out that the producer assigned the project, Richard Lederer, wanted them to just make a quick-and-dirty sequel to exploit the first film's success. Instead, a screenplay was commissioned from William Goodhart, whose only other screenplay credit was Generation (1969). The exact contents of Goodhart's screenplay have never been made publicly known, but apparently mixed in the first film's themes with a lot of odd metaphysical symbolism.
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John Boorman was laid low by a serious lung infection for a month, resulting in Rospo Pallenberg - who had never directed a film before - taking over as director for many key sequences.
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John Boorman confessed that "The sin I committed was not giving the audience what it wanted in terms of horror...There's this wild beast out there which is the audience. I created this arena and I just didn't throw enough Christians into it."
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Linda Blair called this "one of the big disappointments of my career".
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John Boorman was attracted to the film, because "the idea of making a metaphysical thriller greatly appealed to my psyche".
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Jon Voight was interested in the Burton role, but felt that Boorman 's script was flawed from a Catholic point of view. He made some considerable script revisions but none were used and he departed the project.
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John Boorman's autobiography recalls an anecdote in which he claims Linda Blair came up to him one day during the beleaguered shoot and perkily announced, "without irony," "Did they tell you? I was only ten minutes late this morning!"
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Christopher Walken was also considered to play Father Lamont, but the studio management was opposed to his casting.
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Editor Sam O'Steen was originally scheduled to direct, but the studio decided it wanted a more experienced director and went with John Boorman.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Despite Ellen Burstyn's repeated refusals of the offer to return, most drafts of the screenplay featured Chris in a central role, eventually dying at the end of the film and passing Regan's custody onto Father Lamont. It wasn't until shortly before shooting and Kitty Winn agreeing to return that her role was swapped for that of Sharon.
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The only actors to reprise their roles from the previous film were Linda Blair, Kitty Winn, and Max von Sydow though he only appears in flashbacks to Africa and his death by a possessed Regan (not archive footage though).
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Shortly after its premiere, John Boorman went back to re-cut the film in response to poor audience reactions, although this version fared no better. Boorman shortened and changed the order of certain scenes, deleted lines of dialogue, changed some musical cues, and added an introduction with narration by Richard Burton, and cutting all footage of Burton after his character, Father Martin, fights Regan's doppelganger, cutting immediately to the end credits after Regan walks out of the rubble of the townhouse. This gives audiences the impression that Father Martin dies during the climax. The only other significant change of the recut ending is that Sharon's death is not shown, leaving the viewer presuming that she survived at the end of the film. The major plot, though, is not significantly different between the two versions of the film. The version is known as the director's recut and is only available on VHS.
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