Monday, March 5, 2012

Eric's Season in Horror Hell:The Exorcist II:The Heretic(1977)

By Eric Polk-
Oye! It's March so in honor of March Maddness, I'm going to torture myself this month with some of the crappiest horror films ever made. I will take no prisoners in this assault against the slanderous celluloid that has disgraced the silver screen over the years. And to kick things off, it's the first sequel to my favorite horror film of all time.

Directed by John Boorman(who directed the purely scary Deliverance and should have known better than to make this garbage), The Exorcist II is set four years after The Exorcist, and centers on a now 16-year-old Regan MacNeil who is still recovering from her previous demonic possession, a theme that would later resurface in the far superior parody, Repossessed.

Philip Lamont, a priest struggling with his faith, attempts to exorcise a possessed South American girl, who claims to "heal the sick." 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 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, 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 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 doppelganger of Regan. Lamont initially succumbs to the demon but is brought back by Regan and attacks the Regan doppelganger while a swarm of locusts deluge the pair and the entire house begins to crumble around them. However, Lamont manages to kill the Regan doppelganger 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).

I've seen some lousy sequels to classics, but I think Exorcist II trumps them all! Poor effects, laughable acting(Louise Fletcher, you won an Academy award for Best Actress in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, wtf)save for Richard Burton. Poor execution almost all around. There is nothing memorable about this film that can even compare to the original classic. There is nothing scary about this film other than it was made. Safely skip!

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