Exorcist II: The Heretic
Reviewed by Arno Mikli
Rating: 5 Beans
ne of the biggest damp squibs of the 1970s would have to be Exorcist II: The Heretic.
The public at the time certainly had a lot to expect from it. Its precedessor had been a masterpiece of suspense, terror and horror, dealing as it did with a girl called Regan (Linda Blair) who is possessed by a very nasty demon and the efforts of Father Merrin (Max van Syndow) to exorcise the demon.
That is where its sequel falls down on the most. It is most sorely lacking in horror, terror or suspense. Indeed, the scariest bit is right at the start where the demon appears and tries to perform some impromptu open heart surgery. After that, we are more likely to start laughing than crying.
It is set some years after the thrills and chills of Exorcist. Regan is now a teenager, but still a star patient in a children's mental hospital. (At least, that's where this reviewer thinks it is - we are never told as such, and are left to slowly work this out for ourselves). Father Lamont of the Vatican (Richard Burton) pays this mysterious institution a visit to investigate the death of Father Merrin. He arrives just in time to see Regan's psychiatrist, Dr Taskin, (Louise Fletcher) subject Regan to a hypnosis treatment using some mechanical thingamabob called a synchroniser, and to be involved in the mind-boggling chain of events that follow.
And what events they are! We see scenes of Africa that indicate that this continent is entirely red, yellow and white in color. This may make sense in flashbacks, but not when Father Lamont pays the area a surprise visit later on. We discover the demon's real name and that for no particular reason he/she/it just loves locusts. (Well, this is certainly a buggy film!) We meet Kukomo (James Earl Jones), a previous victim of the demon, and see an incoherent account of his current whereabouts - he's either in a cave wearing a locust costume or studying locusts in a laboratory. "Don't let the wings touch you!", he warns Father Lamont in a suitably ominous way. Actually, Kukomo could also be in a cave wearing a leopard costume if a flashback is anything to go by. It's all quite incoherent, really.
Indeed, incoherence rules in the second part of the film. We see Regan enjoy a brief career as a miracle healer for reasons that remain unclear. We see a confusing chase scene where the moviemakers themselves seem confused to where the chase is going and how. Is it by plane, train or bus? Where are they going and why? Is Regan still possessed or not? Are certain road accidents and menacing storms encountered genuine or not?
As for the film's ,well, buggy (and certainly incoherent) climax in Regan's former residence - this reviewer has little trouble in seeing the audience walk out en masse at this. He'll refrain from making any further comment, however.
He'll also mention in passing he thought that the opening theme music was , well, rather unimpressive.
But in trademark fashion, he'll let a character from the film, in this case Dr Taskin, have the last word: "I'm sorry for everything".
This reviewer thinks we all are.
Other reviews for this movie:
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