Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

R | 117 mins | Horror | 17 June 1977

Director:

John Boorman

Cinematographer:

William Fraker

Editor:

John Merrit

Production Designer:

Richard MacDonald

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

The first sequel to The Exorcist (1973, see entry) went through a series of title changes. An 11 Nov 1975 DV article referred to the film as " The Heretic (formerly Exorcist, Part II )." However, a 14 Nov 1975 DV news item reported Warner Bros. had changed the title to Exorcist Part II: The Heretic to avoid confusion with a different film also titled The Heretic. A 5 Feb 1976 HR article referred to the title as The Heretic: Exorcist II. The 8 Sep 1976 issue of DV cited what would be the release title, Exorcist II: The Heretic.
       End credits give “Special Thanks" to: Geoffrey Unsworth, B.S.C.; Peter MacDonald; Tommy Culla; and Michael Dryhurst.
       A 23 Dec 1974 New York news item reported that there would be an Exorcist II, although neither original director William Friedkin nor novelist-screenwriter William Peter Blatty were likely to return. Friedkin, reportedly unhappy with his share of profits from the first movie, "agreed to produce, but not direct," and Blatty threatened legal action over profits.
       A 11 Jun 1975 HR article announced the film would begin principal photography in Jan 1976 with Linda Blair reprising her role as “Regan” and Sam O’Steen directing from a script by William Goodhart. As late as 24 Sep 1975, Var reported that O’Steen was still attached to the project. On 11 Nov 1975, DV reported that John Boorman would direct. Originally announced director Sam O’Steen stated that he never officially signed on to the ... More Less

The first sequel to The Exorcist (1973, see entry) went through a series of title changes. An 11 Nov 1975 DV article referred to the film as " The Heretic (formerly Exorcist, Part II )." However, a 14 Nov 1975 DV news item reported Warner Bros. had changed the title to Exorcist Part II: The Heretic to avoid confusion with a different film also titled The Heretic. A 5 Feb 1976 HR article referred to the title as The Heretic: Exorcist II. The 8 Sep 1976 issue of DV cited what would be the release title, Exorcist II: The Heretic.
       End credits give “Special Thanks" to: Geoffrey Unsworth, B.S.C.; Peter MacDonald; Tommy Culla; and Michael Dryhurst.
       A 23 Dec 1974 New York news item reported that there would be an Exorcist II, although neither original director William Friedkin nor novelist-screenwriter William Peter Blatty were likely to return. Friedkin, reportedly unhappy with his share of profits from the first movie, "agreed to produce, but not direct," and Blatty threatened legal action over profits.
       A 11 Jun 1975 HR article announced the film would begin principal photography in Jan 1976 with Linda Blair reprising her role as “Regan” and Sam O’Steen directing from a script by William Goodhart. As late as 24 Sep 1975, Var reported that O’Steen was still attached to the project. On 11 Nov 1975, DV reported that John Boorman would direct. Originally announced director Sam O’Steen stated that he never officially signed on to the project. According to a 7 Nov 1975 DV item, Exorcist II was to start filming 3 Jan 1976 with a budget of “$8,000,000, considerably below the $12,000,000 cost of the first” film.
       A 30 Jan 1976 DV news item reported that Jon Voight had joined the cast. According to an 8 Apr 1976 DV column, actor Christopher Walken was in talks to appear in the film. The 21 Apr 1976 DV reported that Richard Burton was to replace Jon Voight. Scheduled to start shooting in Jan 1976, the film had earlier been pushed back to a March start date, and at the time was expected to begin principal photography in May 1976. A 21 Apr 1976 LAT article stated that Louise Fletcher had signed to play the psychiatrist, a role originally written for a man. In the 4 May 1976 HR, producer Richard Lederer refuted reports that the script had to be “rewritten extensively” to accommodate the casting of Fletcher.
       According to a 14 Jun 1976 Box article, the film started shooting 24 May 1976 at Burbank Studios in CA. A 6 Sep 1976 Box news item reported that the film shot at Newark, NJ’s Penn Station for six hours. The shoot was part of two weeks’ location work in the New York City metropolitan area. According to an 8 Sep 1976 Var news item, Boorman wrapped location shooting in New York City the week of 30 Aug 1976 and was scheduled to complete principal photography in Los Angeles, CA, by the end of Oct 1976. The budget exceeded $11 million. Delays included producer Richard Lederer having open-heart surgery and Boorman coming down with Valley fever, halting production for four weeks. Another cost overrun was caused when the Galleria apartment complex in New York City refused permission to shoot there, necessitating the building of a penthouse apartment set on the roof of the building occupied by Warner Bros.’ parent company, Warner Communications Inc. Also, as a result of resistance from the Washington, D.C., suburb of Georgetown, they had to cancel plans to shoot there as well. The 19 Sep 1976 LAHExam reported that the scenes set in Georgetown would be shot on constructed sets in Burbank. According to the 14 Jun 1976 Box, filming was also set to take place in Rome, Italy.
       Boorman was quoted in the 18 Oct 1976 DV saying that he turned down directing the first Exorcist and advised Warner Bros. against making it. He still believed that it was “negative and destructive” and his sequel would be “very much a healthy film...about spiritual evolution.” Boorman was to edit the film in Ireland through Christmas 1976, with a print ready for Feb 1977, in advance of its scheduled Jun 1977 release.
       According to 22 Nov 1976 Box, Garrett Brown, inventor of a device used in the Cinema Products Steadicam-35 camera system, was hired to photograph the film’s main title sequence, on location in Rio de Janeiro, 9-13 Nov 1976. A 28 Jun 1977 Ventura County Star-Free Press feature profiled two Thousand Oaks, CA, men, psychiatrist-physician Dr. William Baumann and professional hypnotist Henry Prokop, who were employed by the production to assure accuracy in the film, however they received no screen credit.
       The 8 Sep 1976 Var article reported that Warner Bros. was aiming for a PG rating from the Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA], suggesting "language and blasphemous aspects [would] not be as strong as in the [R-rated] original." However, the sequel was also rated R when released.
       According to a 20 Jun 1977 HR news item, the film "grossed $5.8 million in its first two days" of release, setting over 150 Warner Bros. house records. A 22 Jun 1977 Var article reported that Warner Bros. notified exhibitors they would ship new prints with a revised ending after New York City audiences laughed at the film’s finale. A 24 Jun 1977 DV news item stated that it was John Boorman’s decision to re-cut the film following negative audience response. He made the initial revisions from his home in Ireland by viewing a print and suggesting the cuts by phone. He then flew to Burbank to address more substantial editorial revisions. A 28 Jun 1977 DV article recounted a positive test screening of the new cut at the Village Theatre in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, CA, two nights before. A new prologue featured stills recalling the first film and a voiceover by Richard Burton explaining what had happened during the intervening four years. Revisions included adding a shot outside the South American hut where “Father Lamont” performs an exorcism. Originally, the film began inside the hut. The new ending included the death of Father Lamont, and eliminated “Sharon’s” death scene, but still showed her catching fire. New footage included shots of a dying cab driver and an airplane in an African sequence. Some additional dialogue between Lamont and “The Cardinal” discussing “Father Merrin,” the exorcist played by Max Von Sydow in the first film, was added. Also, additional dialogue between Lamont and “Dr. Gene Tuskin” establishes that Lamont is a psychologist in addition to being a priest. A scene of Regan rehearsing a tap-dance number was cut, as well as: scenes of Lamont "reacting angrily when accused of being 'obsessed'"; a philosophical discussion between Regan and Lamont; the victim of an auto accident victim accosting Tuskin on the highway; and Lamont commanding a bus driver to end his dinner break and drive him and Regan to Georgetown. A 30 Jun 1977 WSJ article described Boorman “re-fashioning” the film and giving it a more surreal tone and “'more pace' in the final scenes." The cost of replacing domestic prints was estimated at more than $1 million. The 1 Jul 1977 DV reported that Warner Bros. would be using John Boorman’s “extensively recut” version in overseas territories. The studio had no plans to strike new prints for U.S. and Canadian markets, but the decision was not final. The new cut was seven minutes shorter and had the new prologue and ending. Domestic prints circulated with the three-minute-shorter ending Boorman cut immediately after the 17 Jun opening.
       A 4 May 1981 NYT article reported that the film’s grosses had plummeted nearly sixty percent in the second week of release. The 18 Jun 1977 LAT review cited as one of the film's shortcomings “the frequent unintended and therefore devastating humor in William Goodhart’s solemn and bizarre script.”
       Exorcist II: The Heretic marked the final feature film appearance of Paul Henreid, who died in 1992.
       For series information, refer to The Exorcist (see entry, 1973). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Jun 1976.
---
Box Office
6 Sep 1976.
---
Box Office
22 Nov 1976.
---
Box Office
4 Jul 1977.
---
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
11 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
14 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1976.
---
Daily Variety
8 Apr 1976.
---
Daily Variety
21 Apr 1976.
---
Daily Variety
8 Sep 1976.
---
Daily Variety
18 Oct 1976.
---
Daily Variety
17 Jun 1977.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1977.
---
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1977
p. 1, 6.
Daily Variety
28 Jun 1977
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1977.
---
Films and Filming
Dec 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1977.
---
LAHExam
19 Sep 1976
Section E, p. 1.
LAHExam
18 Jun 1977.
---
Los Angeles Free Press
24 Jun-30 Jun 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Apr 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Jun 1977
Section II, pp. 10-11.
Motion Picture Production Digest
6 Jul 1977
p. 12.
New Times
22 Jul 1977
pp. 66-67.
New York
23 Dec 1974.
---
New York
4 Jul 1977.
---
New York Times
18 Jun 1977
p. 10.
New York Times
4 May 1981.
---
People
25 Jul 1977.
---
Time
4 Jul 1977.
---
Variety
24 Sep 1975.
---
Variety
8 Sep 1976
p. 7, 32.
Variety
22 Jun 1977.
---
Variety
22 Jun 1977
p. 16.
Ventura County Star-Free Press
28 Jun 1977
Section B, p. 1.
Village Voice
1 Aug 1977.
---
WSJ
30 Jun 1977
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
John Boorman's film of
A Richard Lederer production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
New York unit prod mgr
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Spec locust photog
Oxford Scientific Films
Spec locust photog
Oxford Scientific Films
Cam op
Steadicam op
2d unit cam
2d unit cam
2d unit cam
Asst cam
Key grip
Gaffer
1st asst cam
Stills
Best boy
2d best boy
Grip best boy
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
New York art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Assoc ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
Leadman
Const coord
Asst prop master
2d asst prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Sd mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Sync eff ed
Boom man
Cableman
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec visual eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Process consultant
Title des
Matte artist
DANCE
Tap dance routine choreog
MAKEUP
Spec make-up
Make-up supv
Mr. Burton's make-up
Supv hairstylist
Addl hairstyles
2d makeup man
2d hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Creative assoc
Loc mgr
Regan's drawings
African tech consultant
Prod secy
Secy to the dir
Entomologist
Co-prod secy
Casting dir
Casting dir
AFI asst
Transportation capt
Co-capt
Craft service
Hypnosis consultant
Public relations
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Exorcist, Part II
The Heretic
The Heretic: Exorcist Part II
Release Date:
17 June 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 June 1977
Production Date:
24 May 1976-December 1976, Burbank, CA, New York City, Rome, and Africa.
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor®
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® equipment
Duration(in mins):
117
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24899
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a South American village, Father Philip Lamont invokes his mentor, the late Father Lankester Merrin, to be at his side as he prepares to perform an exorcism. A convulsing young woman sets her clothing on fire with candles as Lamont and the others watch helplessly. In New York City, teenager Regan MacNeil visits her psychiatrist, Dr. Gene Tuskin, at a children’s hospital, and dismisses the sessions as a waste of time. Regan claims not to remember events that led to Father Merrin’s death four years earlier in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., admitting only that she has bad dreams. Tuskin introduces the synchronizer, a device that allows people to share each other’s dreams. Regan tells the doctor that she is not ready to experience her dreams. Meanwhile, in Rome, Italy, a Cardinal orders Lamont to investigate the circumstances surrounding Merrin’s death. Lamont claims he is not worthy, but the Cardinal insists he take on the effort because his reputation is in danger. Lamont arrives in New York City to see Tuskin and wants to interview Regan, hoping to recover repressed memories. Although the doctor is dubious of Lamont’s claim that Regan is possessed by evil, Tuskin allows her assistant, Liz, to hook the doctor and Regan to the synchronizer. In an altered state, Regan and Tuskin are transported to Regan’s Georgetown bedroom. Regan and the doctor see Father Merrin battling the demon within Regan. Tuskin experiences the heart attack that killed Merrin. When Regan regains consciousness, Lamont hooks himself to her side of the device to bring back the doctor. Before Tuskin awakens, Regan advises her not to remember anything afterward. However, Lamont remembers what he experienced and calls it ... +


In a South American village, Father Philip Lamont invokes his mentor, the late Father Lankester Merrin, to be at his side as he prepares to perform an exorcism. A convulsing young woman sets her clothing on fire with candles as Lamont and the others watch helplessly. In New York City, teenager Regan MacNeil visits her psychiatrist, Dr. Gene Tuskin, at a children’s hospital, and dismisses the sessions as a waste of time. Regan claims not to remember events that led to Father Merrin’s death four years earlier in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., admitting only that she has bad dreams. Tuskin introduces the synchronizer, a device that allows people to share each other’s dreams. Regan tells the doctor that she is not ready to experience her dreams. Meanwhile, in Rome, Italy, a Cardinal orders Lamont to investigate the circumstances surrounding Merrin’s death. Lamont claims he is not worthy, but the Cardinal insists he take on the effort because his reputation is in danger. Lamont arrives in New York City to see Tuskin and wants to interview Regan, hoping to recover repressed memories. Although the doctor is dubious of Lamont’s claim that Regan is possessed by evil, Tuskin allows her assistant, Liz, to hook the doctor and Regan to the synchronizer. In an altered state, Regan and Tuskin are transported to Regan’s Georgetown bedroom. Regan and the doctor see Father Merrin battling the demon within Regan. Tuskin experiences the heart attack that killed Merrin. When Regan regains consciousness, Lamont hooks himself to her side of the device to bring back the doctor. Before Tuskin awakens, Regan advises her not to remember anything afterward. However, Lamont remembers what he experienced and calls it horrible, and fascinating. Tuskin suggests that Lamont might have had a dream and not an actual memory. As the priest leaves, Liz gives him a portrait drawn by Regan, in which flames surround him. Lamont is rattled and goes looking for a fire in the building, followed by Tuskin who tries to reassure him. In the basement, Lamont finds a burning box with a doll inside. He and Tuskin attempt to extinguish the blaze, but it grows. The fire department responds, and the children are temporarily evacuated from the hospital. As Lamont receives oxygen, he claims that the incident is proof that an ancient demon is locked inside Regan. Tuskin remains skeptical and is reluctant to grant Lamont’s request to sync with Regan. At home in the penthouse Regan shares with Sharon, her movie star mother’s assistant, the sleeping Regan has visions of Africa and a horde of locusts. She sleepwalks to the edge of her penthouse rooftop, but a dove startles her, before she falls. Later that day, Sharon meets Lamont in Georgetown and takes him to the MacNeil house, showing Lamont to the room where she heard the devil call Merrin’s name. Sharon was so disturbed she could not be around Regan for two years, and only now feels at peace with her. A locust hovers and Lamont prays. Back in the New York City hospital, Tuskin finally allows Lamont to sync with Regan. Through the machine, they see Merrin in Africa, where a swarm of locusts descends on a village. The devil, in the form of a locust, declares that his name is Pazuzu, and appears to possess a boy, Kokumo. Lamont speaks with Pazuzu through Regan and Merrin performs an exorcism on the boy. When the sync session ends, Lamont realizes that Kokumo may still be alive. Sometime later, Regan speaks to an autistic girl and learns her name is Sandra. Because Sandra has never spoken before, Lamont and Gene argue over whether this is another sign that Regan is possessed. At the Museum of Natural History, Regan finds Lamont. They discuss Extra Sensory Perception and see a diorama depicting the place where Merrin first encountered Pazuzu. Regan admits to Lamont that she remembers everything. Returning to Rome, Lamont seeks permission from the Cardinal to visit Africa, but is denied. However, he takes it upon himself to go anyway. Back in New York City, Regan asks Tuskin to help Lamont by allowing her to sync with him again. In Africa, Lamont asks about Kokumo and is shown the place where he supposedly fell to his death. Encouraged by the local abbot to believe Lamont is a devil worshiper, a crowd stones him. Meanwhile, in New York City, Regan performs at a school show and as the stones hit Lamont, she feels his pain. Lamont escapes in a Jeep and Regan falls to the floor, convulsing. Afterward, Regan asks Gene not to drug her because it will inhibit her dreams. In another part of Africa, a man named Edwards flies Lamont, who asks to be taken to Kokumo and is eventually led to an elaborate cave, where an adult Kokumo sits on a throne. Kokumo challenges Lamont’s faith and the priest attempts to walk barefoot across spikes. He falls forward, then regains consciousness in a modern building, and is greeted by Kokumo, who now wears a lab coat. Kokumo studies locusts and explains that he is working on breeding a good locust to drive out the bad locust. Back in New York City, Regan has been medicated against her will but removes her IV tube and leaves the hospital without permission. Lamont returns to the U.S. and finds Regan in the museum. Regan has taken the synchronizer from the hospital, and in Lamont’s hotel room they sync and experience Merrin’s final moments battling the devil, manifested in the form of a possessed Regan. Merrin tells Lamont to take his place and heal Regan, but the sync session ends abruptly and Lamont leaves without cause. Regan follows him to the train station, where she calls Tuskin to inform her that the priest is going to Georgetown. Tuskin warns Regan against following him, but the girl insists. She finds Lamont on a train in a trance. Meanwhile, Tuskin and Sharon face delays as they attempt to reach Georgetown. Regan and Lamont arrive in Washington, D.C., and transfer to a bus that will take them to Georgetown. In a taxi, Tuskin and Sharon plead with the driver to hurry, but as Lamont enters the MacNeil house, their taxi crashes outside. A swarm of locusts attack Lamont. Regan enters the house and finds him on the floor, pointing at the door to Regan’s bedroom. Sharon gets out of the wrecked taxi, but will not help the injured Tuskin. Inside her room, Regan sees the devil manifested as her possessed self and asks Lamont to help. The devil seduces Lamont and orders him to kill Regan. Outside, Sharon catches fire when she steps on a downed electrical wire that lies in gasoline leaking from the taxi. Lamont attacks Regan, but hears the voice of Kokumo, who commands the priest to tear out the devil’s heart as locusts descend on the city. The taxi fire prevents Tuskin from entering. She yells for help, but the street remains quiet. Inside, Lamont fights the devil as a strong wind blasts through a window. The devil rises up and the walls of the house collapse. Lamont rips out the devil’s heart with his bare hand as Regan, covered in locusts, clings to a falling staircase and syncs with the young Kokumo as he is exorcised. With the house in ruins, Tuskin cradles a badly burned Sharon, who regrets she chose evil over truth. Lamont tells her that her hunger for belief was her truth, and administers last rites as Sharon dies. Tuskin tells Regan that she now knows that the girl was truly possessed, but the world will not understand. She tells Lamont to care for Regan. As a crowd gathers and emergency crews arrive, Regan and Lamont walk into the distance. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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