Exorcist II: The Heretic


Exorcist II: The Heretic

Critics Consensus

Hokey mystical effects, lousy plotting, and worse acting directly tarnishes the first's chilling legacy.



Total Count: 25


Audience Score

User Ratings: 36,434
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Movie Info

Four years after her bout of demonic possession, Regan MacNeil seems at peace as she enjoys a privileged but lonely adolescence. Her actress mother, absent on-location, leaves her in the care of her childhood nanny, Sharon, who feels inextricably bound to her young charge despite the terror she endured during the girl's possession. Regan attends frequent counseling sessions with Dr. Gene Tuskin, an unorthodox psychologist who believes Regan remembers more of her ordeal than she admits. Meanwhile, Father Lamont, a protégé of the priest who died exorcising Regan, is called to investigate the death of his mentor. The Church is divided over the teachings of Father Merrin and wants to gather documentation of his views about demonic existence. Father Lamont himself is conflicted -- haunted by images of a possessed woman he could not save. As he and Dr. Tuskin become convinced that the demon still exhibits a hold on Regan, the priest sojourns to Africa in search of Kokuma, who as a boy was possessed by the same demon and exorcised by Father Merrin. Learning the true name and ancient origins of his supernatural foe, Lamont returns to America to stage a climactic battle for Regan's soul.


Linda Blair
as Regan MacNeil
Richard Burton
as Father Philip Lamont
Louise Fletcher
as Dr. Gene Tuskin
Max von Sydow
as Father Merrin
Kitty Winn
as Sharon
Paul Henreid
as The Cardinal
James Earl Jones
as Older Kokumo
Ned Beatty
as Edwards
Joey Adams
as Tuskin Children
Rose Portillo
as Spanish Girl
Barbara Cason
as Mr. Phalor
Tiffany Kinney
as Deaf Girl
Joey Green
as Young Kokumo
Fiseha Dimetros
as Young Monk
Lorry Goldman
as Accident Victim
Hank Garrett
as Conductor
Larry Goldman
as Accident Victim
Bill Grant
as Taxi Driver
Shane Butterworth
as Tuskin Child
Joey Lauren Adams
as Tuskin Child
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Critic Reviews for Exorcist II: The Heretic

All Critics (25) | Fresh (4) | Rotten (21)

Audience Reviews for Exorcist II: The Heretic

  • Jan 30, 2016
    Understandably slammed but really not that bad at all. Exorcist II is a visual delight, and for me a better film than the original in many ways. It has some great ideas but unfortunately is still too closely tied to the original to work on its own terms, and be as compelling as it should be. A real treat for film buffs willing to open their minds to what is essentially an attack on the original film though. Very interesting, just not compelling enough.
    Super Reviewer
  • Oct 18, 2014
    Can any priest actually be solid and resolute in their faith or must there always been an internal turmoil over God? The first signpost of malaise and ineptitude in the pitiful 'Exorcist II: The Heretic' is the superimposition of a possessed South American girl in flames and it is unintentionally laughable. Then the drivel shifts to Regan (Linda Blair) who has blossomed into a buxom ingénue off- Broadway and it's queasy to view Blair in the sexy prima donna context. Denials from the Catholic Church are commonplace nowadays so the fact that the Cardinal reevaluates his position on Satan as a corporeal entity is fathomable. The sleepy tone extends to the clash between modern hypnotherapy and devout piety. The "synchronizer" sequence is an incomprehensible jumble of nonsensical rhetoric, hammy, trance-like reaction shots from Richard Burton and Louise Fletcher and an excruciating recreation of Merrin's battle with Pazuzu. A biblical swarm of locusts in Africa and Regan's psychic abilities suborn more narrative incongruity than unnerving terror. Retconning Regan with an ESP slant is arbitrary and monumentally doltish (ex. Her conversation with Sandra, a stuttering autistic patient, is the height of hilarity). A Jesuit priest plummeting from a Cliffside is such flagrant wirework that he seems to be sailing on a hang glider. Most of the dawdling scenes of Burton's investigation in Africa are transparently filmed against a matte painting. Perhaps though, James Earl Jones in a locust costume is the official jumping-the-shark moment. This is the worst second chapter of a horror blockbuster outside of 'Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows'. Even on its own wobbly structure (along with an Atari-esque midi theme), 'Exorcist II' is a toothlessly unmitigated fiasco that desecrates the memory of the Academy Award-nominated original.
    Cory T Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2013
    Speaking of heresy, the film itself is so rebellious against what is considered right that it dropped the "The" out of "The Exorcist", and yes, this film is so unexciting that I just questioned why there's no "The" in front of "Exorcist" anymore. Seriously though, if you ask me, this is pretty much "Exorcist Episode V: The Devil Strikes Back", and I'm not just saying that because James Earl Jones is here, I'm saying that mostly because there are too many prequels to this series, so I may as well call this the fifth installment. Shoot, the material is so dried up with this sequel that this may as well be the fifth outing for the "Exorcist" series, yet regardless of what you think about this film, the Devil is back with a vengeance, and quite frankly, I'm surprised it took him so long to catch up with Linda Blair. I don't know if it's so much money that's the root of all evil, as much as it's celebrity, because after "The Exorcist", Blair could afford some pretty good drugs, as surely as more than a few decent career moves got Richard Burton some fine alcohol. Hm, I was about to question why they got people with backgrounds that aren't all that holy to be holy people, - corrupted or not - but Burton was such a big drunk that he's perfect to play a priest, and at any rate, this film's purity is so questionable that the psych doctor in this film is, of all people, Louise Fletcher. She will soon know what Jack Nicholson is talking about when he asks someone if they've ever "danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight", and by soon, I mean in twelve years after this film, when Tim Burton's "Batman" came out. Forget the Devil, I'd be more afraid of being possessed by Jack Nicholson, or at least I am now that this film has kind of watered down the thrills behind Satan's work, and while that's not to say that this film is quite as messy as they say, it is to say that this film has its limitations, even on paper. I'm not asking that this film's story concept be quite as juicy as its predecessor's, - which, to be fair, wasn't exactly wealthy with potential - but this subject matter is even more minimalist than a predecessor that was arguably too light in scale and dynamicity for its own good, and to make matters worse, there's some questionability within this mythology, which is sometimes intelligent, but also sometimes fairly cheesy. If nothing else, the film's story concept seems cheesy, because William Goodhart's and an uncredited Rospo Pallenberg's script is so cheesy, at least at times, when dialogue hits fall-flat moments, and histrionics come into play, reflecting a certain consistency in subtlety issues. This film holds the potential of being smart, but many of the lapses in subtlety are glaring, with some being, well, kind of dumb, and no matter how much entertainment value and highlights get the final product by as decent, the writing lowlights are hard to deny, particularly when they begin to fiddle with the integrity of characterization. I suppose characterization is passable, and many of the performances are certainly endearing enough to bring the improvably drawn characters to life, but on paper, there's something lacking about developmental depth, resulting in undercooking that distances you a bit from the characters, especially considering that this film has a good bit of time that it could have dedicated to exposition, but ends up dedicating to draggy, repetitious material that meanders along, stressing natural shortcomings and being itself stressed by atmospheric pacing problems. Really, the film might not be quite as slow as its predecessor, and yet, when the meditativeness that was much more prominent in 1973's "The Exorcist" comes into play here, it's not quite as effective as it should be, having engaging moments, but many more moments in which material is not soaked up enough to compensate for atmospheric dry spells that dull things down and further distance you from a film whose writing, alone, places plenty of challenges before your investment. The film isn't quite as big of a mess as they say, but it's still a mess, and a big enough one to where mediocrity stands as a very real risk, backed by dynamicity, dramatic and pacing shortcomings that make the final product, at the very least, a substantially inferior sequel that held quite a bit of potential. I was joking earlier, when I boasted that material in this series has already dried up, because this is a pretty different sequel that stands to be more, but doesn't exactly fall as flat as they say, being flawed nearly to no end, but nevertheless with highlights, even stylistic ones. Now, in a lot of ways, the film falls behind the stylistic value of its predecessor, and by its own right, this film's stylistic value isn't all that special, but it's still worth mentioning, at least in a visual respect, as William A. Fraker's turns in a cinematographic performance whose tasteful emphasis on sparse lighting makes the brighter moments haunting and the darker moments chilling, especially when backed by imagery whose technical value has become quite dated, but remains adequate enough to enhance the telling of this tale, which perhaps needs as much help as it can. Again, this film's story concept is improvable, having questionable elements, or, if nothing else, too much minimalist, but quite frankly, there's still potential here, thanks in part to a mythology that may be particularly questionable in some ways, but is either intelligent at times or simply endearing within its own context. As for the basic plot itself, it's messy, even on paper, but still with some intrigue to its ambiguities and layers that may not be great, and are certainly undercut by writing issues, but can still be see through highlights in storytelling, as well as highlights in the portrayals of the characters who drive quite a few elements. Acting material is even more limited this time around, after a very dramatic predecessor, and there are a few mediocre supporting performances, but on the whole, decency is found throughout this rather charming cast, with leading man Richard Burton standing out about as much as he can with thorough charisma, as well as a few gripping layers as an open-minded man of God who begins to tap into dark religious depths on a revelatory and dangerous adventure. Burton carries the film about as much as anyone, and he's not the only endearing force in this cast, so the onscreen talent is there, even if the offscreen talent is limited, and yet, the performances found on the screen are not the only ones that get you by. There is still a good bit of credit due to director John Boorman's, whose efforts are messy, but have distinctly notable highlights, for although tension is much more limited in this film than it was in the predecessor, with effective imagery and genuine highlights in material bite, as well as some strong elements within the great Ennio Morricone's tasteful score, Boorman crafts an atmosphere with effective highlights that punctuate a consistent degree of intrigue that keep the bland spells - of which there are many - from dulling too far down. Really, what saves the film is a fair degree of entertainment value, for although the final product is a mess, it's not so faulty that I couldn't stick with it as a reasonably charming and sometimes effective thriller, regardless of its many shortcomings. In closing, natural shortcomings, backed by a questionable mythology, go emphasized by enough cheesiness, underdevelopment and pacing unevenness to threaten the final product with mediocrity, but through a striking visual style, decent performances, - particularly that of Richard Burton - and adequately intriguing and sometimes effective direction by John Boorman behind a fairly engaging story concept, "Exorcist II: The Heretic" emerges as a, for me, endearing thriller, even if it does fall a considerable ways short of its predecessor. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 15, 2012
    1/2 out of **** The William Friedkin-directed film adaptation of William Peter Blatty's acclaimed horror novel "The Exorcist" shocked audiences all over the world like they had never been shocked before in the year of 1973. Never before had anyone seen such sensational special effects and - for those who haven't yet looked overseas towards the wonders of foreign horror - gross singular scenarios. People loved this film and it still holds up today (perhaps better than ever, since we can now strip away the effects and study the film's bare essentials). Four years after its release, they decided to make a sequel; you know, just because they could. "The Exorcist II: The Heretic" exists when nobody actually cared whether a sequel to "The Exorcist" was made or not. It felt as if everything was reasonably resolved by the end, and the major themes came full circle; so why do we need a continuation of this story? Well, we don't; making "Exorcist II" probably the most pointless sequel in the history of movie sequels or maybe just the history of anything. The icing on the cake is that it's not just pointless; it is absolutely, undeniably one of the worst movies ever made. Four years after she was possessed by the demon Pazuzu in the comfort of her own Washington home and in the company of her loving mother and two priests (one young, one old); Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) seems surprisingly normal given all the things she's been through. Since "The Exorcist", her parents have divorced and she's now living with her guardian in New York City, and she's also seeing a psychologist in an institution that worries for her (although it's good enough that Regan doesn't have to stay in the building). She claims to only remember the events of that one night in D.C. through dreams - or nightmares - and the little details in-between that somehow did not escape her. She cannot, however, remember the exorcism that took place in her very own bedroom. To see if her memories of that night can be recovered; the psychiatrist hooks both Regan and herself up to a device called the Synchronizer, which as one would expect synchronizes the brainwaves. Meanwhile, a priest facing a crisis of faith (Richard Burton) is asked by the Cardinal to investigate the death of Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow, who appears in flashbacks). This of course leads him to Regan, and he partakes in the session involving the synchronizer. He then becomes increasingly more involved in her life; believing that Pazuzu still exists somewhere deep down inside Regan's soul, even though it was assumed that the demon was passed down to Father Karras' body in the first film when it was the cause of his eventual death (which could be ruled as suicide, depending on how you look at it). Here, Pazuzu comes in all forms; including a swarm of locusts that attacks Africans. Oh, how fun! This relates to the priest's own journey to Africa; where all shall be revealed, or something like that. Blatty himself saw the film in the theater when it was out and said he was the first person to laugh out loud in the cinema while watching it (the rest of the audience joined in soon thereafter). It is a movie of unintentional laughs and giggles; although one of no pleasures whatsoever. Some films are bad and some are so bad they're good. "The Exorcist II" is not fun in any way shape or form, and believe me when I say that you don't want to waste your precious little fucking time watching it. Indeed, some things - like a guy dressed up like an actual lotus and some cheesy flashback sequences - are amusing at best and flamboyantly silly (although perhaps unintentionally), but does that equate to a good time? It might in another film. But in this one, no way. Is it worth sitting through nearly two hours of terrible "demonic" music (somehow courtesy of the usually great Ennio Morricone), mediocre camerawork, a complete lack of convincing atmosphere or directorial style, and bland-ass performances just to get a few noteworthy chuckles? You tell me. But from what I gather, "The Exorcist II" isn't even lucky enough to be dubbed one of those "best-worst movies". Probably the most tragic aspect of this whole thing is that it was directed by John Boorman. Yes, THAT John Boorman. The same exact guy who made "Deliverance" - considered a classic survival thriller and the quintessential backwoods inbred flick - just five years earlier. Strange how directors can go from something awesome to something as god-awful as this. Well, thanks John Boorman; I will never forget your shit-storm of a movie. Not only because there is literally nothing good to say about it, but also because it's the terrible sequel to one of my favorite films of all time, period (and also my favorite horror film). At this very moment, I wish I could unsee the suck; but I can't. And just for that, I hope Boorman gets raped up the ass with a wooden crucifix. But if you like pretentious, boring, excessively overlong and legitimately mentally deficient horror movies; this might just be your thing.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer

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