Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Exorcist II: The Heretic, based on The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, written by William Goodhart, John Boorman and Rospo Pallenberg, starring Richard Burton (Father Lamont), Linda Blair (Regan MacNeil), Louise Fletcher (Dr. Tuskin), Max Von Sydow (Father Merrin), Paul Henreid (The Cardinal), and James Earl Jones (Kokumu) (1977): Exorcist II is one of the most colossally botched sequels to a blockbuster ever made. William Peter Blatty, who wrote both the original novel and screenplay of The Exorcist, is nowhere to be found. Lucky him. Mysteriously, some sort of amnesia-bug causes everyone to forget about Father Karras -- the Jason Miller character who actually exorcised Regan in the original film -- and focus on Max Von Sydow's Father Merrin, whom the demon basically stressed to death in the first film (well, here we find out that the demon psychically crushed Merrin's heart, which is sort of overkill given that HE HAD A FUCKING HEART CONDITION HE WAS POPPING NITRO PILLS FOR THROUGHOUT THE EXORCISM!!!
The good thing about director John Boorman (Excalibur, Zardoz) is that when he's off, he can be spectacularly off in an entertaining way (see, well, Zardoz). There's a lot of boredom here, but there's also 10 minutes of Richard Burton's character flying around with a gigantic demon locust that keep buzzing the good people of North Africa. I mean seriously, Michael Bay would never come up with this shit. The plot involves Father Lamont investigating Father Merrin's death five years after the events of the first film. That seems pretty late-to-the-game to me, but apparently the Vatican bureaucracy has a lot of exorcisms to investigate. Lamont, though, suffers from a crisis of faith brought on by his own seemingly failed exorcism.
So Lamont goes to New York, meets Regan and her guardian (Regan's movie-actor mother is apparently off filming something, hopefully not The Exorcist II) and Regan's psychiatrist, Dr. Tuskin, who's invented a psychic dream machine that allows people to enter one another's dreams and memories. You'd think this would be headline news, but no one's heard of it outside her office. A bunch of semi-confusing flashbacks and visions ultimately reveal that the demon from the first movie is still around, and that, per: the original novel, that demon is the unfortunately named but 'real' Pazuzu, an Assyrian-Babylonian demon of the Southwest Wind.
Anyway, a bunch of stuff happens, a lot of it boring. James Earl Jones plays the time-tested Hollywood role of the Magical Negro. Locusts fly around and talk a lot. Well, one of them does, that being the loquacious Pazuzu. A house gets dismantled by demonic forces in truly spectacular fashion, given that this is pre-CGI and the filmmakers obviously had to destroy an actual house-sized set. Good triumphs over evil. Richard Burton looks like a great actor who had a lot of bills to pay. Not recommended.