Exorcist II: The Heretic  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Ennio Morricone's "Pazuzu"

Exorcist II: The Heretic is a 1977 American horror film and the sequel to the 1973 film The Exorcist. It was directed by John Boorman from a screenplay officially credited to William Goodhart, and released by Warner Bros.


Father Philip Lamont (Richard Burton), who is struggling with his faith, is assigned by the Cardinal (Paul Henreid) to investigate the death of Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow), who had been killed four years prior in the course of exorcising the Assyrian demon Pazuzu from Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair). 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. Some Church authorities are not sure the exorcism should have been performed (even though it had been officially approved by the local Bishop); also, Merrin’s writings are considered very controversial. Apparently, Church authorities are trying to modernize and do not want to acknowledge that Satan (in terms of an actual evil entity) exists.

Although now seemingly normal and staying with guardian Sharon Spencer (Kitty Winn) in New York while her mother (an actress) is on location, Regan continues to be monitored at a psychiatric institute by Dr. Gene Tuskin (Louise Fletcher). Regan claims she remembers nothing about her plight 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, who believes 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"Template:Ndashapparently a kind of biofeedback device that is used by two people to synchronize their brainwaves. Tuskin finds herself telepathically "witnessing" Regan's memory of the event. She is attacked by Pazuzu and Father Lamont has to use the synchronizer to rescue her.

After a guided tour by Sharon of the Georgetown house where the exorcism took place (wherein Sharon confesses to leaving the MacNeils for two years before coming back, claiming she is never at ease unless she remains near Regan), Lamont returns to be coupled with Regan by synchronizer. The priest is spirited to the past by Pazuzu to observe Father Merrin exorcising a young boy, Kokumo (Joey Green), 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 (James Earl Jones).

Lamont learns that the reason Pazuzu attacks certain people is that those people all have some form of psychic healing ability. The exorcism he performed at the beginning of the film was for a South American lady who said she "healed the sick". Kokumo has since become a scientist, studying how to prevent locust swarms from attacking native crops. Regan, possibly taking a cue from her experience with the synchronizer, 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 (akin to the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin, on whom William Peter Blatty originally based Merrin's character); he thought people like Kokumo and Regan were foreshadowers of this new type of humanity. In a vision, Merrin asks Lamont to watch over Regan.

For some reason, this necessitates Lamont and Regan returning to the old house in Georgetown where she was possessed. The pair are followed by Tuskin and Sharon, concerned about Regan's safety. En route, Pazuzu tempts Lamont (and apparently Sharon) by offering them unlimited power. Lamont resists and continues with his original plan. In the house, a swarm of locusts deluge the pair and the entire house begins to crumble around them. Pazuzu appears as a kind of tarted-up version of Regan herself, and Lamont has to resist this temptation as wellTemplate:Ndashby beating open its chest and pulling out its heart. Once he has done this, Regan banishes the locusts (and, one assumes, Pazuzu) by enacting the same ritual used by Kokumo to get rid of locusts in Africa. Outside the house, Sharon is apparently possessed by Pazuzu, but kills herself. Tuskin tells Lamont to watch over Regan and the pair leave; Tuskin remains at the house to answer police questions.


Exorcist writer/producer William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin both had no desire to involve themselves in an Exorcist sequel. Blatty said, "Warners did approach me and at that time I thought: the story is over...Karras fell down the steps; he's deadTemplate:Ndashthe story is over. There is no sequel possible. So I declined."<ref>William Peter Blatty, cited in Bob McCabe, The Exorcist: Out of the Shadows (Omnibus Press, 1999), p.156</ref> Richard Lederer signed on as the film's co-producer and playwright William Goodhart was commissioned to write the screenplay; Goodhart based his script around the theories of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (the Jesuit paleontologist/archaeologist who inspired the character of Father Merrin when Blatty wrote The Exorcist). Teilhard de Chardin's notion of humanity evolving to form a telepathic whole was incorporated into the Exorcist II script; the screenplay for Exorcist II also would provide a more explicit explanation for that which was kept ambiguous in the first movie; namely, what exactly had possessed Regan, and why. Blatty was shown a copy of Goodhart's original screenplay by Warners, and that was the extent of his involvement with the production of Exorcist II. According to Richard Lederer, Exorcist II was conceived as a relatively low-budget affair: "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."<ref>Richard Lederer, cited in Bob McCabe, The Exorcist: Out of the Shadows (Omnibus Press, 1999), p.156</ref>

British filmmaker John Boorman signed on as director, claiming that "the idea of making a metaphysical thriller greatly appealed to my psyche."<ref>John Boorman, cited in Bob McCabe, The Exorcist: Out of the Shadows (Omnibus Press, 1999), p.158</ref> Years before, Boorman had been considered by Warner Bros. as a possible director for the first Exorcist movie, but he turned the opportunity down as he found the story "rather repulsive."<ref>John Boorman, cited in Bob McCabe, The Exorcist: Out of the Shadows (Omnibus Press, 1999), p.158</ref> Boorman, however, was intrigued with the idea of directing a sequel, explaining that "every film has to struggle to find a connection with its audience. Here I saw the chance to make an extremely ambitious film without having to spend the time developing this connection. I could make assumptions and then take the audience on a very adventurous cinematic journey."<ref>John Boorman, cited in Bob McCabe, The Exorcist: Out of the Shadows (Omnibus Press, 1999), p.158</ref>

Noted film composer Ennio Morricone was commissioned to write an original music score for Exorcist II (a contrast to the first movie, which had a score comprising of pre-existing music by various composers). Dick Smith, who gained prominence and acclaim through the variety and ingenuity of his make-ups effects for The Exorcist, returned to provide his expertise for Exorcist II.

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