REVIEW: EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC

CAST

Linda Blair (Hell Night)
Richard Burton (Ellis Island)
Kitty Winn (Peeper)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Paul Henreid (Casablanca)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Ned Beatty (Superman)
Louise Fletcher (Star Trek: DS9)

Philip Lamont, a priest struggling with his faith, attempts to exorcise a possessed South American girl who claims to “heal the sick”. However, the exorcism goes wrong and a lit candle sets fire to the girl’s dress, killing her. Afterwards, Lamont is assigned by the Cardinal to investigate the death of Father Lankester Merrin, who had been killed four years prior in the course of exorcising the Assyrian demon Pazuzu from Regan MacNeil. The Cardinal informs Lamont (who has had some experience at exorcism, and has been exposed to Merrin’s teachings) that Merrin is up on posthumous heresy charges due to his controversial writings. Apparently, Church authorities are trying to modernize and do not want to acknowledge that Satan as an actual evil entity exists.
Regan, although now seemingly normal and staying with guardian Sharon Spencer in New York, continues to be monitored at a psychiatric institute by Dr. Gene Tuskin. Regan claims she remembers nothing about her ordeal in Washington, D.C., but Tuskin believes her memories are only buried or repressed. Father Lamont visits the institute but his attempts to question Regan about the circumstances of Father Merrin’s death are rebuffed by Dr. Tuskin, believing that Lamont’s approach would do Regan more harm than good. In an attempt to plumb her memories of the exorcism, specifically the circumstances in which Merrin died, Dr. Tuskin hypnotizes the girl, to whom she is linked by a “synchronizer” — a biofeedback device used by two people to synchronize their brainwaves. After a guided tour by Sharon of the Georgetown house where the exorcism took place, Lamont returns to be coupled with Regan by the synchronizer. The priest is spirited to the past by Pazuzu to observe Father Merrin exorcising a young boy, Kokumo, in Africa. Learning that the boy developed special powers to fight Pazuzu, who appears as a swarm of locusts, Lamont journeys to Africa, defying his superior, to seek help from the adult Kokumo.
Lamont learns that Pazuzu attacks people who all have some form of psychic healing ability. Kokumo has since become a scientist, studying how to prevent grasshoppers from becoming locust swarms. Regan is able to reach telepathically inside the minds of others; she uses this to help an autistic girl to speak, for instance. Father Merrin belonged to a group of theologians who believed that psychic powers were a spiritual gift which would one day be shared by all humanity in a kind of global consciousness, and thought people like Kokumo and Regan were foreshadowers of this new type of humanity. In a vision, Merrin asks Lamont to watch over Regan.
Lamont and Regan return to the old house in Georgetown. The pair are followed by Tuskin and Sharon, concerned about Regan’s safety. En route, Pazuzu tempts Lamont by offering him unlimited power, appearing as a succubus doppelgänger of Regan. Lamont initially succumbs to the demon but is brought back by Regan and attacks the Regan doppelgänger while a swarm of locusts deluge the pair and the entire house begins to crumble around them. However, Lamont manages to kill the Regan doppelgänger by beating open its chest and pulling out its heart. In the end, Regan banishes the locusts (and Pazuzu) by enacting the same ritual attempted by Kokumo to get rid of locusts in Africa (although he failed and was possessed). Outside the house, Sharon dies from burn injuries after she immolates herself and Tuskin tells Lamont to watch over Regan. Regan and Lamont leave and Tuskin remains at the house to answer the police’s questions.
In the end, Exorcist II: The Heretic is an awkward affair, with scenes that end abruptly, and truly bad acting by an overly cute Blair and a bored, if intense, Burton. Like most sequels, it merely tarnishes its predecessor, instead of enhancing it, though it tries.

Advertisements