Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: The Exorcist II: The Heretic

Credentials: 24% Certified Rotten ( / 3.6 out of 10 (
Plot: Four years after the events in the first film, a priest named Fr. Lamont (Richard Burton) is assigned to investigate the events surrounding the death of Fr. Merrin (Max Von Sydow) and the exorcism of Regan (Linda Blair). Lamont soon discovers that Regan was just one battle in a much larger war against an ancient evil named… Pazuzu. Seems it’s up to him, a therapist (Oscar Winner Louis Fletcher) and some really cheap looking psychic “mind-meld” equipment to fight Pazuzu and bring balance to the umm… force, I guess.
Thoughts: “The Exorcist II: The Heretic” is pretty much the gold standard of horribly misguided sequels. In fact, any time you hear about a sequel being made to one of your favorite movies, you can thank “Exorcist II” for the chill that runs down your spine.
                The original “Exorcist” was a terrifying, intense experience that had audiences fleeing from theaters and into churches, fearing for their souls and promising to turn their lives around. The second one? Well, I can’t confirm it, but I’m sure people were fleeing theaters but for entirely different reasons.

                “Exorcist II” is an insanely confusing, occasionally silly, but mostly boring accident.
                It falls victim to the age-old trap that has felled so many horror sequels: it tries to explain too much.
                The first “Exorcist” was a girl possessed by a demon, possibly the devil. Done deal. We didn’t need anything beyond that. The sequel, however, expands on that idea. We find out it’s not just any demon, but Pazuzu, evil spirit of the air! Tremble in fear!
Not only does the demon get a name, but it gets a body too and that body happens to be a giant locust. Even better, occasionally the film switches over to “Pazuzu-vision.” Basically, we get to see the world through the locust’s eyes, fly around, and harass African villagers. You know, see what a demon does during its spare time.
The mystery, the dread, the tension of the original film are all completely undone right around the first time Pazuzu’s cicada-inspired theme song kicks in.
Another problem is, it’s impossible to sound scared or serious when you’re saying a word like “Pazuzu.” It’s just too goofy.
The biggest victim of this problem is Burton, who is either possessed by the over-acting spirit of William Shatner or under the impression he’s on a stage in London performing Shakespeare instead of in a half-baked horror sequel. The man tries his damdest to sell it, but every time he says “Pazuzu,” you can’t help but smile.
So the movie’s not scary in the slightest bit, but it’s also too long and dull to fall into “so bad its good” territory. Sure the Pazuzu stuff may make “Exorcist II” sound fun, but I assure, at two hours long, it’s not. By the time Lamont travels to Africa and meets James Earl Jones (who, might I add, is dressed like a giant locust) I had absolutely no idea what was going on or why.
“Exorcist II” had some sort of deeper meaning, about good attracting the attention of evil, but William Goodhart’s script took the scenic route getting there. I can at least respect the attempt at doing something original with a sequel instead of rehashing part one for a cheap cash grab. Still, originality isn’t everything. Entertainment value has to come into play somewhere. 
Quick thoughts
                ---Director John Boorman supposedly hated the first film, which also explains the totally different feel of part two
                ---Boy they really tarted Linda Blair up for this movie. She seduces a priest, tap dances AND struts around both sans bra. At least she drew the line with the demon makeup:  “I’ll make out with that priest, but I WILL NOT be a demon again!” You go girl.
                --- Max Von Sydow gets top billing in the credits despite doing almost nothing
                --- Lingering questions: Why are there two Regans near the end? Also: Who/what exactly is Lamont fist fighting?
                ---All of this hypnosis stuff, going into Regan’s mind to investigate Merrin’s death, none of it seems to make any sense, YET every character is totally on board with it. Including the priest, who is apparently better at entering people’s minds than Leo DiCaprio.
                ---The movie’s soundtrack is a charming combination of cicadas, someone screaming random gibberish and nails on a chalkboard
                ---The state-of-the-art psychic mind meld equipment looks like about $5 worth of rubber and aluminum foil, two light bulbs and a couple of wires. I guess they blew the budget on rubber bugs and James Earl Jones’ giant locust costume
Video Evidence
"What's wrong with you?" Linda Blair: Smooth Operator
See James Earl Jones dressed as a huge locust!
                Bumblebee tuna.

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