Exorcist II The Heretic Review

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Former possessee Regan MacNeil, still troubled by her experience with the demon Pazuzu, participates in hypnosis-telepathy therapy. Investigating the death of Father Merrin, Father Lamont travels to Africa, where young Merrin first tangled with Pazuzu, then returns to America to save Regan.


A famously disastrous follow-up to William Friedkin’s horror hit, this has never won many admirers – though it now looks like the best of the generally disastrous Exorcist sequels, in that it at least offers a lot of interesting material jumbled together in a frankly incoherent manner.

Blair, a few years further into puberty than in her debut performance, is chubby-cheeked and astonishingly nubile as the repossessed heroine (‘I was possessed by a demon. Oh, but it's okay, he's gone now!’), while Von Sydow appears mostly in make-up-free flashbacks as the young Father Merrin tangling with Pazuzu in Africa (pre-empting both versions of Exorcist IV) and returning bit-player Kitty Winn explains why none of the other characters are back. However, the most entertainment value comes from Richard Burton as the new priest in town, who wears a silly headpiece for telepathic synchronisation with the patient and suffers one truly cringe-inducing horror moment as he treads on a spike that goes completely through his bare foot.

John Boorman, already see-sawing between genius and lunacy, has no interest at all in the spook business, but litters the film with astonishing sights and sounds, especially in the African sequences which include incredible landscapes, an impressive plague of demon mosquitoes and James Earl Jones as a leopard-outfitted chieftain. Rather than sample more Mike Oldfield, the film stretches to a terrific music score, mixing liturgical and African themes, from Ennio Morricone. Musing on the film’s no acceptance by Exorcist fans, Boorman said ‘I guess I didn’t throw enough Christians to the lions.’

One of the various poor sequels