Exorcist II: The Heretic overcomplicated a simple story of good vs. evil. At times it feels like a parody. That didn’t stop this unnecessary sequel from suffering from just as many filming difficulties as the original. The Heretic has rightfully been called one of the worst movies ever made. Director William Friedkin and writer William Peter Blatty obviously saw no reason for a sequel and Ellen Burstyn understandably refused to be part of it. Kitty Winn replaces the mother as Sharon (Regan’s tutor from the first movie that I forgot about). Max von Sydow was persuaded to return and a 19 year old Linda Blair returned under the condition of no demon makeup.
As a Christian, I’m still disturbed by the subject matter, but there’s nothing scary about The Heretic. The sequel is loaded with silly music, pseudoscience, ridiculous attempts to recreate the original exorcism, a strange fascination with locusts, and overuse of the name Pazuzu. Despite the R rating, The Heretic is borderline PG. There’s barely any blood, no profanity, and a somewhat juvenile tone. Regan MacNeil is far too casual about formerly being possessed. She mostly takes part in psychiatric procedures performed by Nurse Ratched herself Louise Fletcher.
Regan develops several supernatural powers that are never made explicitly clear. There’s a lot of focus on a brain melding device that’s supposed to bring the demon back through memories of Father Lankester Merrin. At the same time there’s Richard Burton as another Catholic priest struggling with faith. He investigates the first exorcism in an African village with a confusing vision quest from James Earl Jones, and by that point I was completely lost. By the end I was begging the movie to make sense. All I know is that they found an excuse to include the original house at the end. Exorcist II: The Heretic should be cast out of the franchise for being this bad.