EXORCIST II : THE HERETIC (John Boorman, 1977)

Richard Burton, Linda Blair, Louise Fletcher, Kitty Winn, Max Von Sydow, James Earl Jones, Paul Henreid, Ned Beatty, Joey Green. 118 minutes (original theatrical version); 102 minutes (recut version).

by John C. Kerr and Paul Rowlands


One of the seminal films of the 1970s was undoubtedly THE EXORCIST (1973), based on the 1971 bestseller by William Peter Blatty. It was a truly groundbreaking film, raising the stakes of what could be shown on screen. The film also managed to brush aside most of the cliches of the horror genre, probably because neither director William Friedkin or Blatty (who also scripted and produced the picture), regarded it as a horror movie. Explicit and powerful, the tale of demonic possession became an instant classic, its harsh realism contrasting (but paradoxically making more believable) the demonic terrors on display. Warner Brothers were taking a huge gamble, especially as its $10m budget was expensive for a horror movie. The gamble paid off. THE EXORCIST was a blockbuster success and a critical triumph. The film was even nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 1974 - unheard of for a 'horror film' (Blatty won the Best Adapted Screenplay Award).

The success of THE EXORCIST paved the way for later 'religious horrors' such as THE OMEN (1976) and its sequels. Another measure of its influence was the number of low-budget rip-offs it inspired, with four such films all premiering in 1974 in their country of origin - the Italian film CHI SEI? (aka BEYOND THE DOOR, released in Italy in 1974 and the US a year later), the German film MAGDALENA, VOM TEUFEL BESESSEN, a Turkish remake called SEYTAN (aka SATAN) and the blaxploitation horror, ABBY. The latter film was successfully pulled from theatres by Warners.  

With THE EXORCIST creating a mini-boom in 'devil child' movies (that the 'devil'-themed ROSEMARY'S BABY thre years previously had made possible), Warners must have realised that they were likely to lose out on their new cash cow if a sequel wasn't put into production quickly.

Producer Richard Lederer originally envisaged EXORCIST II in line with such rip-offs, telling Bob McCabe "What we essentially wanted to do with the sequel was to redo the first movie... Have the central figure, an investigative priest, interview everyone involved with the exorcism, then fade out to unused footage, unused angles from the first movie. A low-budget rehash - about $3 million - of THE EXORCIST, a rather cynical approach to movie-making, I'll admit. But that was the start."

Fittingly, Lederer's background was in advertising and publicity - he was Vice President of World Wide Advertising and Publicity at Warners for a decade and a half. The key talent from the first film were approached - Friedkin, Blatty and lead actress Ellen Burstyn (who had since won a Best Actress Oscar for Martin Scorsese's ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, 1974) all declined to return. Lee J. Cobb was unwell and died from a heart attack at the age of 64, in February 1976 (three months before principal photography started).

Some key cast members from the original were persuaded to appear, crucially the now 17-years old Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil, and in flashbacks and fantasy sequences, Max Von Sydow as Father Merrin. Also reprising her role was Kitty Winn, as Sharon, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn)'s assistant in THE EXORCIST. After real-life priest William O'Malley was too busy to reprise his role of Father Dyer from the original film, the character was changed to Father Lamont, a younger priest who deeply respects Merrin's teachings. Eventually Boorman went with Richard Burton, who was 50 at the time and suffering a career drought. His alcoholism was showing its ravages, and he allegedly took the role to help get his pet project, EQUUS (1977) financed. Although originally written for a man, the role of the psychiatrist Dr. Tuskin was taken by Louise Fletcher, Oscar-winner for her memorable portrayal of Nurse Ratched in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (1975). Acclaimed stage actor James Earl Jones was cast in the important role of Kokumo. He had made his debut in Kubrick's DR. STRANGELOVE (1964), and in the same year EXORCIST II was released would provide the voice of Darth Vader in STAR WARS (1977). Ned Beatty has a small role as a pilot, and had made his debut in Boorman's unforgettable DELIVERANCE (1972). (He was the guy sodomised at gunpoint by the hillbilly.) The year before EXORCIST II, he gave an Oscar-nominated performance in Sidney Lumet's NETWORK (1976). This would be the final film for Austrian actor/ director Paul Henreid, who plays The Cardinal. Henreid is of course most famous for playing Victor Laszlo in CASABLANCA (1942).
Amongst the directors pursued for the original film were John Boorman (the others being Stanley Kubrick, Mike Nichols, Arthur Penn, Peter Bogdanovich and Mark Rydell, who was actually hired, but Blatty insisted on Friedkin). After Kubrick passed on the sequel (it's likely the success of the first film influenced his choice to adapt Stephen King's THE SHINING, 1980), Boorman was approached and came onto the project in October 1975 (he would stay until December the following year). He had turned down THE EXORCIST because he disliked the premise, seeing it as focussing on 'the torture of a child'. Despite impressing Hollywood with groundbreaking hits like POINT BLANK (1967) and DELIVERANCE (1972), Boorman was coming to EXORCIST II on the back of a flop - his decidedly odd but visually memorable 1974 fantasy, ZARDOZ, with Sean Connery.

Throughout the 70s Boorman was desperately trying to get his version of the Arthurian legend financed. No doubt the prospect of a huge hit that would enable the finance of EXCALIBUR (then titled 'Merlin' and later 'Knights') was one factor in accepting the EXORCIST II assignment. (Boorman also unsuccessfully attempted for many years to get his version of 'Lord of the Rings' financed, and EXCALIBUR used many elements of it. )

Boorman's appointment is interesting in that whilst the original film gained a great deal of its power from Friedkin's documentary approach and realism, Boorman is a very different filmmaker. His work, whilst often feeling and looking authentic, is not tied down by logic or an interest in realism. At his best, his films have a unique power that cut through to our subconscious love of fables and dreamlike stories, and are concerned with examining people under great stress (DELIVERANCE). At his worst, his intellectualism and ambition get the better of him, his characters speaking pretentious and awkward dialogue, and his narrative getting muddled and impenetrable (ZARDOZ). Whilst EXORCIST II had begun with the idea of rehashing the original, the stage was now set for a film that would be very different and not playing on the first film's strengths.

The sequel take place four years after the original, and follows two major (and inter-twining) plot strands. First of these is the story of Father Philip Lamont (Burton), a troubled Jesuit priest and former associate of Father Merrin, who is assigned by the Vatican to investigate the circumstances of Merrin's fatal exorcism and whether the claims that he was a 'heretic' are indeed true. (it is not explained why Merrin is being investigated as a 'heretic' for performing the exorcism on Regan in the original when the exorcism was shown to have been authorised by the Church.) The second strand is the continuing story of Regan (Blair), who is now aged sixteen and, although claiming to have no memory of the events of her possession, is being counselled by the psychiatrist Dr Gene Tuskin (Fletcher). As the story unfolds, Father Lamont and Doctor Tuskin unite to help Regan. Along the way, Lamont contacts Merrin's spirit while in a trance state, witnesses the circumstances of Merrin's death, and encounters the influence of Pazuzu, the demon from the first film. Lamont defies his superiors by flying to Africa to find answers via Kokumo (Jones), an African who had been exorcised by Merrin many years before and who may lead to the key to defeating Pazuzu. This leads to a return to the U.S., and an explosive climax at the original site of the exorcism in Georgetown, Washington DC.

Boorman saw EXORCIST II as 'a metaphysical drama' rather than a horror picture. The original screenplay was written by the playwright William Goodhart who, like Blatty, was a Roman Catholic and was inspired by the unorthodox ideas of the palaeontologist and Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Chardin's ideas, including the belief that the universe was evolving towards a maximum level of complexity and consciousness, had brought him into conflict with the Vatican. The character of Father Merrin in the original novel had been styled by Blatty after Teilhard. In EXORCIST II, Merrin is seen as believing that the universe is moving towards a point where it will fall either on the side of good or the side of evil.

Boorman was attracted by Goodhart's three-page treatment because it was about 'goodness' and presented an opportunity 'to film a riposte to the first picture'. Nevertheless, he wanted to make changes to Goodhart's later draft, and after Goodhart declined to make the changes, Boorman set about doing so with Rospo Pallenberg, who was writing the 'Merlin' script at the same time. The changes continued even after the commencement of principal photography. During production, they still did not have an ending in mind. Linda Blair later complained that ''It was a really good script at first. Then after everybody signed on they rewrote it five times and it ended up nothing like the same movie." Boorman and Pallenberg's script modifications are not credited in the final film, with Goodhart credited as the sole writer. Some indication of the level of Pallenberg's involvement can be assumed from his credit as Creative Associate. Linda Blair has even said that Pallenberg 'directed a lot of the film'. Barbara Pallenberg wrote the making of book published to coincide with the release of the film, and Rospo Pallenberg went on to work on THE EMERALD FOREST (1985) with Boorman, after their 'Merlin' project was filmed as EXCALIBUR. 

In addition to script problems, other mishaps befell the production. Permission to shoot in the original Georgetown house (and the iconic steps beside them) was refused, necessitating these locations be recreated in the studio. Boorman's original plans to shoot location footage in Ethiopia and the Vatican were also vetoed due to budgetary considerations (the rock churches and African villages were recreated on sound stages.) Linda Blair refused to wear the make-up she had donned in the first film; therefore, a second actress needed to be hired as a stand-in during for the brief sequences with the possessed Regan. There were also health issues afflicting cast and crew: Boorman suffered from the fungal infection San Joaquin Valley Fever, cancelling production for a month, and both Louise Fletcher and Kitty Winn were hit with gall bladder problems. Reshoots were required when it was found that some footage was oversaturated. 


EXORCIST II has a very bad reputation, and is considered to be one of the worst studio pictures ever made. Sandwiched betweeen the first and third fourth films, it is out of step with the series, and it's very tempting to see it as inappropriate in every way. For many, a spoof like REPOSSESSED, released the same year as THE EXORCIST III (1990), and featuring Linda Blair and Ned Beatty, is redundant because the second film had already done the job, albeit inadvertently.

Upon its release in summer 1977 there were reports of laughter at the film's New York premiere (William Peter Blatty remembers being the first to laugh at a Washington D.C. screening), and the picture garnered poor reviews, although the influential Pauline Kael actually prefereed it to the original. Because of this negativity, Boorman re-edited the film shortly after its release, rearranging scenes and dialogue and changing the ending (with the death of Father Lamont). This version, at 110 minutes, was also shorter. This cut also had an alternative opening sequence with stills from the first film, a narration by Father Lamont (establishing himself as a disciple and successor of Father Merrin) and an extended South American sequence which appears to locate the initial exorcism as taking place at a favela in Rio de Janeiro. It fared no better at the box-office, although it is worth noting that the film was not the flop many believe it to be. It cost around $14m to make (it did go $1.5m over budget) but it did gross $30m in the U.S. alone.  

Three years after the film's release, in their book 'The Golden Turkey Awards', the doyens of bad movies, Harry and Michael Medved, published the results of a readership poll for The Worst Film of All Time. THE EXORCIST II was first runner-up (the winner was PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE, 1959).

Like the original EXORCIST, and in line with Boorman's intentions for the film, the film should be seen as a metaphysical drama rather than a straightforward horror film, an intriguing meditation on the nature of good and evil. If you want gore and scares, go elsewhere; EXORCIST II is not for you. A criticism of many sequels is that they are often rehashes of the originals, offering 'more-of-the-same' (this is particularly true of the horror genre). Kudos should therefore be given to Boorman for breaking this tradition. The film is in no way a clone of the original, but tries to offer something substantially different. Boorman himself later excoriated himself for not giving the audience what they expected - ''The sin I committed was not giving the audience what it wanted in terms of horror...There’s this wild beast out there which is the audience. I created this arena and I just didn’t throw enough Christians into it.''. He is being too harsh: in fact, the difference in structure and tone between this and the first film can be seen as one of the film's strengths. The film is very complex, almost too complex. THE EXORCIST, whilst an equally intelligent film, unfolds its plot slowly, and proceeds logically along a linear path towards the climax. The sequel, on the other hand, has almost too many ideas than it can cope with, and flies off in more than one direction. 

Boorman's film is typically ambitious, but the unique mood of THE EXORCIST was very different to this film. We are never sure how seriously we are supposed to take the film. This is because it is deeply injured by some genuinely laugh-out-loud dialogue that is made even more so for coming out of the mouths of characters who would never have spoken like this in the previous film. THE EXORCIST, despite it's scares and disturbing mood, was actually quite funny and witty at times (it is more pronounced in the original book ,and also in Blatty's sequel - the 1983 novel 'Legion' and the 1990 movie THE EXORCIST III). EXORCIST II is funnier because it is ironically such a serious and po-faced film, and Boorman fails to maintain or convince us of the weird, highly-charged mood required to hang the dialogue on. Ellen Burstyn's Chris MacNeil would have been in guffaws at some of the lines:

Father Lamont to the pilot: ''I've flown this route before. It was on the wings of a demon.''

Kokumo to Lamont: ''If Pazuzu comes for you, I will spit a leopard.''

Lamont to Tuskin: 'Satan has become an embarassment to our progressive views.''

Sandra Phalor (Dana Plato), an autistic child, to Regan: ''What's the matter with you?''
Regan: "I was possessed by a demon. Oh, it's OK. He's gone.'' 
Regan's line is simply very bad writing. Blair is obviously a young woman whose growing out of her youthful innocence, an such a line could have convincingly come from the Regan of the first film, but not a 16 or 17 year old girl.

The sweeping plot of EXORCIST II leads to the two movies being very different in their structure. Plot elements include several exorcisms, locust swarms, ancient religion, modern religion and, of course, good and evil. It also includes a hypnotic machine known as the 'the synchroniser', which allows two minds to come into tune and enter a shared trance. The scenes featuring this device come across as laughable in a modern context, and have dated a lot. But the scenes are key to the film in that they represent the journey Boorman wants the audience to embark upon. If you take that leap of faith and are open-minded, you will get more out of the film and go on a trip that contrasts and complements the first film. If you cannot accept such uncool, 'out-there' ideas, you are going to have a tough time and regret signing up.

The cross-cutting between the various ideas is undeniably another reason why the film is held in such low regard - it covers quite a lot of ground and some of its ideas are over-elaborate and confusing. The original EXORCIST, although beginning in exotic climes (with Father Lankester Merrin encountering the work of the then-unnamed demon Pazuzu in Iraq), soon narrows its geographical focus first to Georgetown in Washington DC, then to a single house, and finally, to just one claustrophobic room where the final battle takes place.

EXORCIST II takes almost the opposite approach. It begins with Father Lamont's failed exorcism, and first encounter with Pazuzu, in a very cramped and claustrophobic room in South America (mirroring the small focus of the previous film's climax); after that, it opens out considerably. The action take place in a number of locations - South America is followed by New York, Ethiopia, back to Washington DC and ultimately to that same small Georgetown room. In contrast to the first film, many of the events, particularly those in Africa, takes place outdoors. Even the interior sets are open and expansive; the clinic with its various glass shutters revealing large internal spaces and hives of activity, and the modern flat where Regan lives, again very spacious, with floor to ceiling glass panels and a large balcony with views over New York. Father Lamont's journeys take him to Africa, and the imposing rock churches of Ethiopia. Even though many of the African scenes were created largely in the studio, the sweeping vistas of Glen Canyon, Utah and Page, Arizona provide admirable stand-ins. This is especially true in the sequence where Lamont is 'brushed by the wings' of Pazuzu and soars in his mind's eye over Africa, in a scene reminiscent of the flight over the alien world at the end of Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). Cinematographer William A Fraker, who had photographed ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968), the film that had made 'demon'-related horror pics commercially viable in the first place, deserves praise for some beautiful visuals, which are more than complemented by Ennio Morricone's striking score, a mixture of classic Hollywood orchestral cues and tribal chants.

Flight is a theme that runs throughout the film. Pazuzu himself is depicted as an airborne demon - 'the king of the evil spirits of the air. In his brief appearance in the first film, it is as a winged statue. EXORCIST II expands on this. The locust is Pazuzu's avatar; close shots of a single locust are featured throughout the film as a signature of the demon's presence. There are also locust swarms as a signifier of evil, both in the African scenes and in the climax in Washington DC. Note also that most of the characters fly at some point in the film (Lamont more than once) and there are two close-up shots of Boeing 747s taking off, with their undercarriage folding up insect like the legs of an insect.

However, the central themes, as with the first film, are both possession and the battle between good and evil.

The idea of possession is arguably more complex in this film. Its predecessor focussed on Regan's plight, but in EXORCIST II, there are many examples of the possessed: the doomed girl in the opening sequence, the African boy Kokumo (Joey Green), Regan herself, even Sharon (leading to her suicide by self-immolation at the end of the film). It can also be argued that Regan and Lamont are 'possessed' with each other as they become psychically linked after using the 'synchroniser' device. Father Lamont, after his contact with Pazuzu, is also 'possessed' by Pazuzu, leading to a weakening of his faith and thus becoming 'the heretic' of the title, only eventually redeemed by Regan's goodness in the final scene, where her influence proves greater than Pazuzu (who has left her body and become a 'false Regan' avatar that Lamont eventually vanquishes), freeing them all and allowing Good to triumph. As Lamont puts it: ''The time has come. Now we are saved and made strong.'' 

Boorman expands on his theme of 'goodness' by having the idea of evil (in the form of Pazuzu) being drawn to people who are innately good, usually with healing powers. Three characters in the film exemplify this, starting with the unnamed South American girl who dies in the opening sequence, who is noted as being a healer. Also a force for good is Kokumo, initially possessed by Pazuzu as a child while trying to repel an attack by locusts (here Pazuzu's 'evil spirits of the air', but successfully exorcised by Father Merrin). In adulthood, he becomes a doctor who is engaged in research on grasshoppers in an attempt to find a way to stop locusts swarming. The final 'good' character is, of course, Regan, who is seen 'curing' an autistic girl at the clinic. This innate goodness is the reason that she became a target of Pazuzu, and why Pazuzu remained dormant to her. No real explanation is given as to why Pazuzu is still there within her, and why he hasn't manifested himself for four years after apparently being 'exorcised'. 

The film also creates contrasts between religion and science (the latter in the form of psychiatry) although the use of the 'synchroniser'- created for the film as a plot device -suggests that psychic connections can be made and therefore the two disciplines of the natural and supernatural can, in certain circumstances, be reconciled. Doctor Tuskin and Father Lamont do become allies. The film therefore presents both science and religion as forces for good, hence why they are contrasted but not conflicted. 

  Various other thematic contrasts can be noted in EXORCIST II. In fact, the entire film is a complex maze of oppositions: faith/ heresy, reality/ illusion, modern Christianity (progressive Roman Catholicism with its downplaying of Satan)/ ancient Christianity (the Ethiopian faith is one of the oldest forms of the religion). Further to this is the opposition of Christianity with the more ancient (non-Christian) evil of Pazuzu.

The film uses a lot of 'mirroring' techniques to reflect characters and their relationships, either as reflections on glass (as in the 'heart attack' sequence in the psychiatrist's office, where the reflection of possessed Regan/Pazuzu attempts to kill Dr. Tuskin), superimpositions ('good' Regan and 'evil' Regan) or match cuts (in the climax, the intercutting between the young Kokumo attempting the ritual banishment of the locusts with Regan in Georgetown attempting - successfully - a similar ritual.)

The film's major problem is the ending, in which, almost literally,all hell breaks loose. It has everything: a chase, a crash, self-immolation, a literal fight with a demon, a house falling to pieces, a swarm of locusts over Washington DC. It is all a bit too much, and some of the scenes (the fight on the bed with the 'false Regan' seem very contrived, as does the way that Lamont and Regan walk calmly away, leaving Dr. Tuskin to watch as the previously deserted street fills with spectators and emergency vehicles. As mentioned earlier, the script was being constantly redrafted during production, and the climax was written late, which may explain why so many ideas and events collide in such a mish mash of plot-points. 

Linda Blair, now four years older (both in real life and as a character) has to project herself in a different way. She essays her role well, and conveys the goodness and positive nature of her character, while still hinting at a deeper sadness (deep down, she can remember Father Merrin and his death). Blair convincingly displays a pleasant. strong-minded, 'innocent' teenager, while also able to play a seductive role (in the final sequence, as one of the incarnations of the Regan avatar endeavouring to tempt Father Lamont). The flashbacks to Regan's exorcism, in which Regan is played by another actress, are very unconvincing, and one wonders why footage from the original film was not used instead. Blair found a career in 'B' movies in the 70s and 80s and remains an icon because of her role in the EXORCIST series.

Richard Burton's portrayal is also very subtle; to the cynical eye he may initially appear wooden, but this slightly passive portrayal emphasises the hesitancy within the Lamont character, a troubled man wrestling with his faith and feeling powerless against the powers of darkness (hence his inability to step in to save the South American girl). Burton died in 1984 from a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 58.

Louise Fletcher is excellent in a very different role from her ice cold Nurse Ratched in CUCKOO'S NEST, coming across as a warm and concerned substitute parent for Regan. Interestingly, given her role in the film as a woman who helps those with disabilities, both of Fletcher's real-life parents were deaf and worked with the deaf and hard-of-hearing. This role is obviously a lot closer to the real her than that of her most famous role. Kitty Winn plays her role with the right level of bewilderment, and, in a much different movie, is a welcome linking device to the original film. Together with Fletcher and Burton, they create a kind of substitute family for regan in the absence of Ellen Burstyn playing her mother. It has to be said that had Burstyn returned, her acting style would have welcomely grounded the film a lot more. James Earl Jones, in his brief role, also performs well, represented in visions as a holy man capable of banishing Pazuzu and also, in the 'real world' as a modern scientist. Max Von Sydow and Paul Henreid are not really given a chance to shine and are wasted in the picture. 

John Boorman bounced back from the ordeal of two perceived failures in a row with EXCALIBUR in 1981, a film that like all his work gets better over time. The film had a more consistent and convincing tone, mood,and vision, perhaps learning from the mistakes made by EXORCIST II. Nevertheless, Martin Scorsese praised EXORCIST II as one of his guilty pleasures in an article in Film Comment magazine a year after its release ('Martin Scorsese's Guilty Pleasures', September/October 1978). He remarked that ''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 is a modern-day saint... I like the first EXORCIST, because of the Catholic guilt I have, and because it scared the hell out of me; but THE HERETIC surpasses it. Maybe Boorman failed to execute the material, but the movie still deserved better than it got." Now may be the time to follow Scorsese's lead, and give the film its due. Despite its flaws, it remains an interesting work, and one that is long overdue for re-assessment.

NB: Richard Burton also plays a priest in the films BECKET (1964), NIGHT OF THE IGUANA (1964), THE SANDPIPER (1965) and ABSOLUTION (1978). In the scene where Regan sleepwalks and stands on the edge of the roof of a skyscraper, the ground below (Fifth Avenue) is real, bringing a frightening reality to a dreamlike sequence. For the climax, the 2500 locusts died at a rate of a hundred a day.

AVAILABILITY: The original 118-minute theatrical version of the film is available on DVD, but not yet Blu-ray. It features the alternate opening as a special feature. Boorman's re-cut is currently unavailable, having only been released on VHS and 16mm.The trailer to EXORCIST II can be found on YouTube: the trailer is interesting in two ways. Firstly, it is practically a condensation of the entire film. No major scene (including the climax) is missing. Secondly, it is incredibly fast paced, possibly leading the audience to to expect a thrill-packed rollercoaster rather than the more measured film they would be presented with.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: There are five EXORCIST films in total, all of which are interesting despite differences in quality and tone. All of the sequels/ prequels had difficult shoots, post-production periods and have reputations as flawed works.

THE EXORCIST III is probably the most acclaimed of them, with many believing it to be the 'true' sequel to THE EXORCIST, but it was compromised by studio interference. Interestingly, Blatty himself considers the original novel, 'The Ninth Configuration' ( his 1978 reworking of his 1966 novel, 'Twinkle, Twinkle, ''Killer'', Kane; filmed by him in 1980) and "Legion' to form a trilogy.

John Frankenheimer (THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, 1962) was hired to direct a prequel to the original film but left the production due to health issues, dying a month later. He was replaced by Paul Schrader (the writer of TAXI DRIVER, 1976 and THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, 1988 amongst many works), a filmmaker whose ouevre has frequently delved into issues of religious faith, and was in many ways an ideal choice. The studio replaced him after the film was shot, wanting more gore and shocks, and took the unprecedented step of completely reshooting the film with another director, DIE HARD 2's Renny Harlin. This was released as EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING in 2004, and surprisingly, Schrader's version saw the light of day, released as DOMINION: PREQUEL TO 'THE EXORCIST' a year later on DVD. Both films feature Stellan Skarsgard as Father Lankester Merrin in Africa exorcising a possessed boy, but the circumstances in these prequels are much different from the exorcism of Kokumo in EXORCIST II.

It is worth viewing ZARDOZ (1974), an earlier, equally ambitious John Boorman fantasy which has also split critical opinion, and also his earthy version of the Arthurian legend, EXCALIBUR (1981).

'The Exorcist - Out of the Shadows' by Bob McCabe, Omnibus Press, 1999.
'Exorcist II - The Heretic'
: IMDB entry.
'Exorcist II - The Heretic': Wikipedia entry on the film.
'Rich Man, Boorman'. John Boorman interview with Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central website, 13th March 2005.
'The Golden Turkey Awards', Harry and Michael Medved, Putnam, 1980.
'Linda Blair of THE EXORCIST Reflects on the Devil Inside' by Patrick McD, Hollywood Chicago.com, 15th July 2010.
'The Making of EXORCIST II -THE HERETIC' by Barbara Pallenberg, Warner Books, 1977, excerpted at The Louise Fletcher Appreciation Page site.
'The Use of Arthurian Legend in Hollywood Film: From Connectitut Yankees to Fisher Kings' by Rebecca A and Samuel J Umland, Greenwood, 1996.

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