Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

From beginning to end, this is garbage: Poorly written, badly acted, boring and all-around stupid. But it’s so audacious and surreal, so visually striking and filled with undeniably memorable shots that you can’t dismiss it outright, even as it never gels into a cohesive whole. There’s very little horror content at all to be seen, which is in stark contrast to the original’s gut-punch shock effects, replaced here by endless scenes of locusts flying into the camera and silly-sounding African chanting substituting for an actual score. John Boorman’s direction is surprisingly languid and beautiful, defined by its dream-like pans and some gorgeous cinematography, but the movie is edited with all the finesse of a chainsaw, which halts the momentum and confuses the narrative. Add to this an interminable running length, some truly stupid elements and a weak acting trio consisting of Linda Blair (reprising her role as though she were in a high school production), a befuddled Richard Burton, and Louise Fletcher (who doesn’t seem to be acting in the same movie), and you end up with one of the worst big-budget sequels ever made. Despite all this however, the movie maintains a hypnotic appeal: Perhaps it’s that it’s so infamously bad that one can’t help but be compelled by the array of poor elements in juxtaposition with the elements that work here and there, so it gets three stars just for being so memorable – but mainstream viewers will find nothing to enjoy here.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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