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Blu-ray Review: Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

You know how you release one of the most successful and iconic horror films of all time, sit around four years and snort a mountain of blow and say “Shit, we really should make a sequel to this thing…but I’ve never been a fan of screenplays or logic…aaaand action!”? Yeah, me either, but I’d bet demons to doughnuts that is pretty damn close to how Exorcist II: The Heretic came to be.

We pick up the narrative with a now teen-age Regan (Linda Blair) seeing a new-age shrink on the regular, and it is at one such appointment that she says she has almost zero recollection of the events of the first film (which also mirrors the filmmakers as well). Meanwhile priest Philip Lamont (Richard Burton) is assigned to investigate the death of Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) after the events of Regan’s exorcism.  Soon their path’s cross and Lamont sits in on Regan’s sesh with her shrink’s happy helmet which can link two minds together…which of course causes Pazuzu-Regan to appear as her two halves fight over the heart of her psychiatrist and trust me…you ain’t seen anything yet boils n’ ghouls. Don’t believe me? How about flashbacks to Father Merrin in Africa performing exorcisms involving evil locusts? How about Regan curing autism? How about Regan tap dancin’ to The Lullaby of Broadway in a school pageant for absolutely zero reason? How about James Earl Jones dressed as a giant insect? Well like the old pasta sauce commercial used to say; “It’s in there!” along with so much more…and before it’s done will ol’ Lamont be able to complete his globe hopping spirit quest to save Regan’s soul?

Full of ’70’s-era New Age horseshit holding hands with the Catholic dogma of the first film; Exorcist II: The Heretic is one hell of a surreal, off-kilter fright flick that in no way is a successful sequel to the first film…but is nevertheless one hell of an entertaining film! In all honesty this flick is closer in spirit and style to the Italian knock-offs that followed in the wake of The Exorcist than it is to that film itself…and bless it’s black lil’ heart for it, as this is the type of off-the-rails lunacy your’s cruelly craves! Now along with the crazy, there is also beautiful image compositions and cinematography, top-notch acting, and some fantastic music courtesy of maestro Ennio Morricone.

Along with the fever dream feature come an unholy host of eerie extras. First up are interviews with Actress Blair (who is brutally honest about the film…and the tap dancing), and Editor Tom Priestley. Following that we get audio commentaries from Director John Boorman (who brings to light just how this batshit piece of cinema came together…and sadly my scenario above wasn’t the reality…but trust me, there was no shortage of nonsense involved…and the film’s technical details are discussed as well, but unfortunately there are plenty of those dreaded long, silent pauses), the other with Project Consultant Scott Bosco (who delivers an excellent analysis of the film’s themes, production, and legacy…seriously, this is a fantastic listen boils n’ ghouls from someone that dearly loves this fright flick). Following that we get a second Blu-ray that contains an alternate (and shorter) cut of the film that originally appeared in theaters a few months after the film premiered. This version contains it’s own audio commentary track as well courtesy of Mike White of The Projection Booth Blog. This conversation is a thoroughly fascinating listen as well, and gives a scholarly examination of the film’s production.Finally we have the film’s teaser and trailer, and a host of stills galleries.

Look; i’m not going to sit here and tell ya Exorcist II: The Heretic is a fantastic fright flick that you should own if you have any sort of love for psychotronic cinema, bizarre visuals, and fever dream storytelling…oh, fuck it…that’s exactly what I’m going to tell ya (just don’t expect a straight forward sequel to The Exorcist, ya dig?)!

 

 

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