[color=#006400;]Exorcist II: The Heretic [/color]- Let's start by letting one of the fans of this film say something about it...
"[color=rgb(17,17,17);font-family:Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;] Again, we're dealing with metaphysics. The picture asks: Does great goodness bring upon itself great evil? This goes back to the Book of Job; it's God testing the good. In this sense, Regan (Linda Blair) is a modern-day saint -- like Ingrid Bergman in Europa '51, and, in a way, like Charlie in Mean Streets. I like the first Exorcist, because of the Catholic guilt I have, and because it scared the hell out of me; [/color][color=#ff0000;][font="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;"]but The Heretic surpasses it. [/color][/font][color=rgb(17,17,17);font-family:Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;]Maybe Boorman failed to execute the material, but the movie still deserved better than it got." -Martin Scorsese [/color]
Yes, that's right, Martin Scorsese is a fan of Exorcist II. He was not alone Pauline Kael also liked Exorcist II more than the original. Truth be told, John Boorman did not appreciate Friedkin's film feeling it was all about torturing a child and the reason he ended up accepting the challenge of creating a sequel was because he saw it as a chance to provide some sort of positive response to what he felt was a very dark work. Here's Boorman...
"[color=rgb(37,37,37);font-family:sans-serif;]The film that I made, I saw as a kind of riposte to the ugliness and darkness of [/color]The Exorcist[color=rgb(37,37,37);font-family:sans-serif;] – I wanted a film about journeys that was positive, about good, essentially. And I think that audiences, in hindsight, were right. I denied them what they wanted and they were pissed off about it – quite rightly, I knew I wasn't giving them what they wanted and it was a really foolish choice. The film itself, I think, is an interesting one – there's some good work in it – but when they came to me with it I told John Calley[/color][color=rgb(37,37,37);font-family:sans-serif;], who was running Warner Bros. then, that I didn't want it. "Look," I said, "I have daughters, I don't want to make a film about torturing a child," which is how I saw the original film. But then I read a three-page treatment for a sequel written by a man named William Goodhart and I was really intrigued by it because it was about goodness. I saw it then as a chance to film a riposte to the first picture."[/color]
Let's put the film into some context by looking at where it occurs in Boorman's career. It came as the follow-up to Zardoz, another visually striking yet perhaps somewhat muddled work. In fact these two films have much in common in that while audiences seemed to turn away from them they both are jam packed with ideas and take an everything and the kitchen sink anything goes approach to the visuals. I don't think either of these films could have come out of any decade but the 1970s with their wildly experimental and boundary pushing...not to mention confusing to most people I'm sure...approach.
These are over the top works that show a filmmaker willing to try anything, with no shortage of ambition and a deep desire to tell complex multilayered stories. Boorman would continue his work as an amazing visual stylist in the film he followed up Exorcist II with, Excalibur. I mean say what you want about Boorman and these films but they are three balls out visual stunners that prove if nothing else he would take chances others would not get anywhere near.
I'll confess something here, I thought Exorcist II was terrible when I first saw it. I mean I really thought it was horrible and had so many issues I could not get past that I was stunned it was even released. I still can't take Linda Blair's acting in the film and whoever wrote her dialogue did her no favors but what made me appreciate the film...not love it but at least appreciate what Boorman and company created...was seeing the film on television with the sound turned down, playing some piece of classical music on the stereo while in the room doing something else not paying attention to the TV. I think I was packing boxes or something and I looked up and saw these incredible images on the television and wondered "What the hell is this?"
It held me spellbound and I turned up the volume and realized after a few minutes it was a film I thought I had totally scrubbed from my memory because it was so bad...Exorcist II. I did not end up watching the rest of the film at the time but made a mental note to revisit it and to do so with a more open mind.
Over the years I have tried the film several times. I have to admit that I am a bit fascinated with that three film run from Boorman where each film is some crazed explosion of visual style and labyrinthine ideas. Exorcist II began it's path to becoming a film as a cheapo follow-up that would use footage from the first film and just be dumped on the public to make a quick buck and ended up being Boorman's 14 million dollar meditation on goodness triumphing over evil as response to his disgust with Friedkin's film. In the end the film tries to do way too much and was hampered by so many issues it will never be seen as anything but a failure...probably rightly so...but it is a fascinating and beautiful failure in my opinion.