Plot: What’s it about?
It has been four years since Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) was possessed by the demon Pasuzu, leading to a horrific ordeal for all involved. But now Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) has passed on and Father Lamont (Richard Burton) has been called in by the Vatican, to uncover the truth behind Regan’s demonic possession. His trek takes him into Africa, where he finds that the demon Kokumo has taken over someone, but since Merrin had defeated the demon before, Lamont is able to speak with the presence. He learns that locust packs cloak the presence of the demon, enabling travel around the world to happen. When he returns to New York, Lamont discovers that Regan has been plagued with terrible nightmares and that the demon has also returned, but the odds have been stacked even more against the side of good. Can even Lamont, with help from Merrin’s spirit and some cutting edge technology, manage to free Regan from the demon’s grasp once more, or is she lost this time?
A sequel is often a hardship for filmmakers, trying to equal or better the original film, but in some cases, it can be downright impossible. In this case, director John Boorman (Zardoz) follows The Exorcist, one of the elite horror pictures of all time and just as expected, he is unable to attain the same level of excellence. In fact, Exorcist II: The Heretic is one of the worst sequels in cinema history, failing in every respect to capture the magic of the original. You have to admire the intentions involved, as the film explores some wild ideas and tries to aspire to some high places, but massive plot holes, lackluster writing, and just poor execution drown the film’s potential. I like the visuals and atmosphere found in many scenes, but it isn’t enough to rescue the film, unless you watch it as a comedy of errors, which would work out well. As bad as Exorcist II: The Heretic is, it is kind of fun to see Linda Blair in the saddle and for horror devotees, the film has some memorable moments. But if you’re expecting a serious, bone chilling movie in the spirit of the original, then you’ll be let down, so in the end, I think a rental is as good as I can recommend.
As I mentioned above, one of the better parts of this bad movie is the presence of Linda Blair, who returns to the role of Regan MacNeil. Her turn in the original is one for the ages of course, with Blair giving an excellent performance, especially for such a young, inexperienced performer in such a demanding role. But this time around, Blair knew she had some pull and wouldn’t even allow herself to be made over in the demonic flashback scenes, so a double was used. I use that example because it helps show how uninterested Blair is with this picture, she seems to be just be there and that’s about it. She shows some flashes of her old performance, but even with some new twists to play on, her presence isn’t enough. Other films with Blair include The Exorcist, Chained Heat, Hell Night, Ruckus, and Roller Boogie. The cast also includes Richard Burton (Cleopatra, The Longest Day), Louise Fletcher (Cruel Intentions, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), and Max von Sydow (The Seventh Seal, Needful Things).
Video: How does it look?
Exorcist II: The Heretic is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this release here, but as it turns out, Warner has assembled a terrific looking treatment for this terrible movie. The print has minimal marks and debris, though some slight grain is evident, but that’s not a problem in the least. A lot of movies from this period have a softer look, as well as grain and so, I wouldn’t be too concerned there. I found colors to be bold and rich, while black levels are sharp and well balanced also. A few scenes show more age than others, but on the whole, this is a terrific looking presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
A bland, but not too worn out mono track is present here, which handles the basics well enough to be passed through. But then again, this is a mono soundtrack from the 1970s, so don’t get your hopes up too much. The materials haven’t been ravaged by time much, so there’s minimal hiss & distortion, which is good news. The dialogue is crisp at all times, with no volume issues, while the musical score is also well presented. Not too memorable, but solid enough and it should please the fans, so no harsh tones needed. This disc also includes a French language option, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Bahasa, and Thai, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes an alternate opening sequence, some talent files, and the film’s theatrical & teaser trailers.