Following the success of the high-grossing original The Exorcist, along came an follow up sequel that takes place four years after Regan McNeil, once again played by Linda Blair, became possessed. She is 16 by now and under the care of Sharon Spencer, played by Kitty Winn, another Exorcist returnee, while Ellen Burstyn declined to reprise her role as Regan’s mother. Father Merrin, played by Max Von Sydow, who rid of the demon from Regan years earlier, makes an appearance, but only in stock footage scenes. Another departure was Father Karras played by Jason Miller, who was replaced with veteran actor Richard Burton as Father Lamont, who was recommended by Paul Henreid as “The Cardinal” to investigate the botched exorcism by Merrin, which includes an excursion to Africa
Unfortunately for Regan, she is not cured, still having recurring nightmares of her possession that unwillingly volunteer further psychiatric treatment – recommended by Dr Gene Tuskin played by Louise Fletcher – with the aid of an special device that enables hypnotherapy and mind treatment that can unlock what is causing her traumatic memories. Also, Regan had powers that can heal others by communicating with one of Tuskin’s patients telepathically, which ends up getting her into trouble.
The film underwent countless of re-writes, as Blair stated in an interview. The creator and author of the original classic, William Peter Blatty, and the director of the predecessor, William Friedkin, declined any prominent role in the sequel, so that the direction of the film went to John Boorman, the director of such films as Zardoz and Deliverance with Ned Beatty. Burstyn did read the script and was displeased of the direction the story took, which she cited as her reason to decline.
The mystical demon Pazuzu, which is prominently featured in the film, was often referenced in other films and TV- shows such as Two Broke Girls, in an episode featuring Andy Dick’s character owning an marionette Pazuzu doll. The sequel was spoofed in an earlier episode of The Simpsons, titled Homer:The Heretic in which Homer refuses to worship god and stays at home during Sunday mass.
Blair also revealed one crucial term of her agreement, namely to not have any FX- make-up applied, which resulted in having her double undergo it.
Another change that plagued the sequel was the soundtrack, Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” from the original were replaced by music composed by Ennio Morricone, who is revered for composing Spaghetti Western themes, but his attempt to score the sequel was rather sub-par. The theme he came up with rather belongs in an campy horror television show then in a sequel to one of the most respected horror film of all time. Another issues that plagued the production was the fact that Burton often turned up drunk, according to Blair .
After a screen test the movie had to be re-edited by the director, due to bad feedback of the audience, but once it was released, the audience was still not happy, some even resorted to throwing things at the screen. That lead the sequel to become a critical failure and to this very day it is still hated by fans, garnering harsh reviews. Blair was facing death threats from angry fans due to the sequel’s failure.
This sequel is in no way perfect, but totally silly campy popcorn entertainment, perfect for rainy days or Halloween. It did finally find its fans that love it, in contrast to purist, hard-core fans of the series.
It’s worth checking out just to see Blair at her best.
Finally, the trailer.