Movie Reviews 184 – Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

Exorcist II The HereticI was warned. The first week of it’s release back in 1977 a friend of mine went to see this sequel to The Exorcist with great anticipation and eagerness in his eyes. He can back a rambling, shambling man spewing tales of locust infestations and gesticulating swirling motions with his arm. It seemed like he’d lost his mind. One thing was clear though, this was no exorcist movie at all and he absolutely loathed this movie. He was not alone. The reviews were brutal. Enough for me to stay away for nearly 35 years.

I finally caved in and watched it for two reasons. The first was my surprise in hearing that the third installment, The Exorcist III, was actually quite good so I was going to have to endure this one if I was going to make sense of that one. The second reason is that I’m somewhat a completist and skipping any movies in series (as you’ve probably learned as I held up watching the first seven Children of the Corn movies no matter how they deteriorated in quality over the run).

So, fully aware that I was probably in for a rough ride, and with only a mild hope that everyone else was wrong and this couldn’t be as bad as everyone said it was, I plunked it into my DVD player.

Regrettably, they were all correct. This movie is an unqualified mess and a greater abomination than the devil Pazuzu we’re supposed to be afraid of. Not being scary in the least is only a minor problem considering the other failings in this movie. The first thing we learn is that Linda Blair’s  acting talents did not blossom as she did in the intervening years between The Exorcist and reprising her role as Regan in this sequel. Hey, she was either a cute kid or cursing a blue streak when possessed by the devil in that one, not much of a range when you think about it. But she’s just playing a straight adult here and she just doesn’t hold up. True the script doesn’t give her much to work with, but she just doesn’t cut it.

Next we get to more bizarre aspects of the movie. It’s really hard to explain being so convoluted. On the one hand you have Louise Fletcher running a child psychiatric unit, but, get his, she has a device that allows one person to synch up their mind with another person to experience their dreams. As silly and absurd a device one can imagine, it becomes the focal point of the movie when Regan’s is put under it and her dreams focus on the inhabitants of some long lost African Savanna. Seriously, I can’t make up this shit.

The icing on the cake is having Richard Burton come is as a priest to take the ride with Regan on the gadget so that he can figure out what is really going on with her. And of course there are the locust infestations I mentioned.

Confused? Try watching the movie. I honestly don’t know how such a hackneyed script can get the go ahead. I can just image the reaction of all those people who went is expecting a sequel to The Exorcist felt like those during it’s theatrical run. I waited 35 years, knew it was going to be bad, and I still feel robbed.

Now where is my Exorcist III DVD…?

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