Directed by John Boorman (Deliverance ’72, Zardoz ’74), Exorcist II: The Heretic reunites Linda Blair as Regan MacNeill, Max Von Sydow as Father Merrin and Kitty Winn as Sharon Spencer. It also stars legends Richard Burton as Father Philip Lamont, Louise Fletcher as Dr. Gene Tuskin and James Earl Jones as Older Kokumo. What a cast!
Lamont, unofficially investigating Merrin’s death, wishes to question Regan but is refused permission by her doctor, Tuskin. Later he witnesses Regan and Tuskin using Tuskin’s machine which hypnotises both participants and links their minds; when things go wrong, Lamont takes Regan’s place and links his own mind with Tuskin and sees Merrin and the possessed Regan (in a newly filmed scene, not footage from the original) and realises the demon is still inside her.
Regan is troubled by repressed memories and dreams of ‘flying’ to Africa and a plague of locusts. Lamont once again uses Tuskin’s machine, this time linking minds with Regan herself and we learn more about Merrin’s time in Africa where he was involved in the exorcism of a boy, Kokumo (Joey Green), also possessed by Pazuzu, the demon which possessed Regan in the first film. He also confronts Kokumo as a man in the vision.
Realising Kokumo is still alive, Lamont travels to Africa to find him. While there his mind is still linked with Regan’s. Anyway, I’ll leave my description of the plot there. Does Lamont meet Kokumo? What happens when he returns to Regan? You’ll have to check it out.
The plot is deliciously strange. The cast, as I said, is phenomenal. The soundtrack is superb, really superb. The whole film was shot in various parts of the USA (including the scenes in Africa) but looks expensive and has a certain rich, epic quality throughout; we even revisit those famous steps and the house where the exorcism in the original film took place. The effects are great too if you account for the age of the film, this was the 70s! But the real highlight of the whole thing for me is the script, check this out: Regan, at one point, possessed by Pazuzu, tells Lamont, “No! Once the wings have brushed you, you’re mine forever!” I’m not just talking about this one quote though, the whole script is littered with wonderfully loopy statements that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Is this the sequel The Exorcist ’73 deserved? I mean, the original is the greatest horror film of all time. Blatty’s actual sequel Legion, adapted for the screen as The Exorcist III ’90, is the creator’s true vision. So what is this? I read somewhere that Boorman didn’t even like the original film. Well, I’ll tell you what this is. It’s bloody brilliant.