Man, the ’70s were weird. Exorcist II: The Heretic is not the most ’70s film I’ve ever seen; that honor belongs to The Visitor. But this movie sure as hell is trying. I really am not sure what to make of it. It pretty much took the plot of The Exorcist and decided to give it the finger and then throw itself out a window while locust swarms attacked it. There’s a lot of bizarre sets and costuming, some weird ideas and philosophies regarding evil and psychology, and a demon that just comes across as bland. It doesn’t help that the script was apparently being rewritten daily, so the end result is disjointed, awkward, and frankly dumb. But then, that kind of helps give it that 1970s vibe.
To add to it, director John Boorman didn’t have much of a budget and wasn’t able to get permission to film on location, so just about everything was done on a sound stage on a Warner Bros. back lot. That means heavy use of matte paintings and miniatures, which contribute to the strange dreamlike quality that the film possesses…as well as the most hideous psychiatrist’s office I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, it’s pure nightmare fuel. The 1970s were a weird time. Nobody should design offices like that.
Did I like it? That’s tough to say. I’m struggling to say I even understood it. I appreciate things about its appearance, but it’s a mess of material. It is a crazy ride though, one that I feel should be entirely divorced from its predecessor. As much as I laughed at The Exorcist, it’s a much more effective film than this. This is crap. Not bad crap, but crap nonetheless. I don’t recommend it to fans of the first film. I recommend it to people that want their movies bizarre, eerie, and illusory. Movies that blend fantasy and reality in strange ways and leave you wondering what it is you just watched.
Hell, let’s take a stab at the plot. A new priest named Lamont is tasked with seeing if the old priest, Father Merrin, was a crazy person for believing in exorcisms and Satan since the Catholic Church is now modernizing. Lamont visits Regan from the first film and uses an experimental mind device on Regan to see a past battle between Merrin and the demon Pazuzu. He then heads to Africa to find Kokumo, a guy who Merrin had previously helped fend off Pazuzu. Kokumo shows he’s psychic but totally fails to defeat Pazuzu and his locust horde while dressed in an outfit from the Broadway production of The Lion King. Lamont follows Regan back to the house from The Exorcist and kills her doppleganger while she uses her psychic powers to beat up Pazuzu. Also, we’ll all be psychic in the future.
Yeah, if you like batshit ideas, batshit costumes, batshit plot, and batshit everything, Exorcist II: The Heretic is for you. Really, view at your own risk on this one, folks. Even the soundtrack is batshit.