FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Mar 2, 2010

Hereticalosity

I am of the mind that The Exorcist is one of the best horror films ever made. Yes, it scares me and it always has. I know there are people who find it laughable and dull and not scary at all. I cannot concern myself with these people, because they're jerks. JERKS I SAY. The fact is, William Friedkin's 1973 film is an absolute classic- take away all the horror elements and it's still a fascinating study of religion, faith, medicine, and female sexuality. I will say as I've always said, however: if Regan's post-possession behavior is any indication, Pazuzu is pretty lazy.

Maybe my feelings on that will change after this viewing of the follow-up, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), directed by John Boorman. That's right, my friends, somehow I've never seen this, one of the most reviled films in the history of...film. Oh, I've seen teeny bits here and there: Regan in some weird headgear acting all tranced out, Richard Burton yelling about something, Louise Fletcher being NOT Ellen Burstyn. I imagine this movie will be as terrible as it's said to be, although I may be pleasantly surprised. Either way, however, you're coming along with me. That's right, it's time for another one of my famous* live blog reviews, so let's dig in and get our Pazuzu on!

*not at all famous

  • Man, these opening titles make me think about how much I love The Exorcist. It's so damn unsettling...wait, Ned Beatty is in this?!
  • Okay, so we start with a Spanish-speaking girl who's apparently possessed...Father Richard Burton stands around doing nothing and the girl sets herself on fire. Way to go, Father Richard Burton!
  • Aw, Regan's all grown up and tying her shirts to show her tummy! And she's tap dancing in short shorts to "Lullaby of Broadway". She's so normal now!
  • Regan only remembers being sick and having nightmares when she was in D.C...apparently she doesn't remember all the cussing and the crucifix up the hoo-ha. I don't blame her for blocking it all out. Still, Dr. Louise Fletcher wants to hypnotize Regan to MAKE her remember. Is that a good idea? My zero training in psychiatry says NO.
  • Alright, Father Richard Burton is supposed to investigate the death of Father Merrin. Apparently the church doesn't like all the "devil talk" that Merrin was throwing around. Wouldn't they use it to draw more people to the church's teachings, rather than cover it all up? I'd think it would drum up some good business for 'em.
  • Ooh, Regan's got her hypnotic headband on. Strobe light time! She's literally going cross-eyed as she gets all tranced out. Awesome.
  • I miss the Linda Blair years.
  • This hypnosis machine is sweet. People can link their minds and, like, go places and stuff. The cross-eyed thing is embarrassing, but still.
  • Flashback! Oh my...oh my God. Can't they just use footage from the original movie, rather than re-enacting it? It's so bad. So bad. And tap-dancing Regan is dueling with possessed Regan over...well, they're both grabbing Louise Fletcher's breast. It's all very uncomfortable. That's REALLY not Mercedes McCambridge doing the voice. Bleeearggh.
  • Okay, I guess they're supposed to be battling over her heart. But really, they're copping a lot of feels here.
  • Actually, lady, Regan does NOT draw well. Sorry to be harsh, Regan, but it had to be said.
  • Father Richard Burton is trying to beat a flaming cardboard box to death with a crutch. It's really not helping. But Regan's drawing was so prescient! Except for the crutch part.
  • In Regan's dreams, Pazuzu takes her to...Africa? Tatooine? Aw, I guess it's Africa. Or, you know, a soundstage.
  • LOCUSTS!
  • Regan, noooo! Don't fall off the roof! Although killing Regan would be a rather Scream thing to do, if you know what I mean.
  • Alright, Father Richard Burton has gone back to the Georgetown house to investigate. As you might expect, there's a locust hanging out in Regan's old bedroom. Well, that was anticlimactic.
  • Back to Africa. Father Merrin is battling Pazuzu, who's possessed a boy, and swarms of locusts, which...is how Pazuzu gets about, I'd imagine. I wish he'd also battle this fucking Kmart Ladysmith Black Mambazo soundtrack that's happening right now...
  • LOCUSTS TERRORIZE SOUNDSTAGE VILLAGE, NEWS AT ELEVEN
  • James Earl Jones has magical leopard breath.
  • IS THAT DANA PLATO???
  • I looked it up. That is indeed an uncredited Dana fucking Plato as the shy, stuttering girl.
  • "What's the matter with you?" "Oh, I was possessed by a demon." "..." "It's okay, he's gone."
  • Regan's kind of annoying in a "golly gee!" sort of way, isn't she?
  • Ugh, this extended Africa sequence where Father Richard Burton goes off in search of James Earl Magical Leopard Breath Jones is pretty boring.
  • But now it's all better: The Sparkly Top Hat Tap Dance Revue is GO! What a strange interlude.
  • Is Sharon in love with Regan or what? She so is.
  • Regan says "Please don't drug me, Jean..." while sounding completely fucking drugged.
  • Oh God, I want to fast forward all the Africa scenes. Can I do that? Or will I miss too much?
  • While I think a sequel to The Exorcist is rather unnecessary, there maybe COULD have been a decent sequel that dealt with Regan's post-traumatic life. Maybe some sort of abuse or rape allegory. Or maybe Regan's dealings with religion in the wake of her ordeal. The Exorcist II is not that movie.
  • James Earl Magical Leopard Breath Jones has a locust hat! It looks like something you'd get at Disneyland, or perhaps the Orkin Bug Zoo.
  • "If Pazuzu comes for you, I will spit a leopard." That's comforting. I need to incorporate that into my life. "If this traffic doesn't let up, I will spit a leopard."- that sort of thing.
  • Father Richard Burton is kind of possessed by Pazuzu...or maybe Actor Richard Burton is drunk and trying to go to his happy place...
  • Oooh, everyone's heading to Georgetown for the big Showcase Pazuzu Showdown!
  • Locusssstssss! Crashing cabs! Exorcist II: The Heretic is a white-knuckle thrill ride I'll never forget!
  • Regan doesn't seem too bothered to come face to face with her possessed self...
  • Okay, Sharon just set herself on fire, Father Richard Burton wants to get it on with a sexified Pazuzued-out Regan, and Louise Fletcher is running around a soundstage.
  • The house is coming apart! The Mirror Has There are two Regans! It's all a weeeeee bit over-the-top. It makes the head-spinning, pea soup-spewing finale of the first look subtle.
  • Regan is spinning against the the locusts! She's winning!
  • When did the Kitty Genovese incident happen in New York? Did Georgetown learn nothing from it? For fuck's sake, a car crashed through a fence, a house came down, there was a fire, people died...AND NOT ONE PERSON ON THIS STREET HAS COME OUTSIDE.
  • Oh wait, they're all there at once. I guess time was standing still while the Regans duked it out.
  • Okay, that wrapped up REALLY FUCKING QUICKLY. Guess everyone's gonna be fine! Except Sharon, who ended up Extra Crispy Recipe.
Well, that wasn't very good. It wasn't near the debacle I thought it was going to be (or it's been made out to be), but it didn't come close to achieving its lofty goals about the nature of good and evil and the duality within mankind. It's a bit of a mess, though the blinking hypnosis machine is quite the product of the late 1970s, as it was the dawning of the age of New Age. And, of course, let's not forget The Sparkly Top Hat Tap Dance Revue. Or Dana Plato, R.I.P.

PAZUZU!

22 comments:

MaxTheSilent said...

One of the worst movies ever made. But Linda Blair is so unutterably HOT in it.

In fact, might need to go and watch SAVAGE STREETS now then take a cold shower.

Neil Fulwood said...

Some of the things I love about ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’ that transform it from POS cash-in to masterpiece of misconceived high trash:

1) Director John Boorman hated the original and wanted his sequel to be “an antidote”. In his autobiography, Boorman purposefully refers to the film as ‘The Heretic’, leaving out that troublesome ‘Exorcist’ bit.

2) James Earl Jones plays most of his scenes decked out in a witch-doctor type get-up – the worst costuming since some doofus decided to put Sean Connery in a nappy/bandolier combo in ‘Zardoz’. (Said doofus was John Boorman, btw. Coincidence? I think not.)

3) The Synchronizer!!! The film’s greatest conceit: a device that links people’s minds and explores their memories. And what does this supposedly ultra-high-tech bit of kit look like? A mug tree with two lightbulbs strapped to it! Awesome!

4) Father Lamont is asked to investigate Merrin’s death, even though four years have passed since Merrin carked it. In the same scene, the Cardinal tells Lamont the church is considering Merrin a heretic for practising exorcism, yet the first film clearly demonstrates that it was not only sanctioned by church authorities but Merrin was actually asked to do it.

5) Africa: a few square meters of polystyrene rocks and an artificial sun hanging over a back lot.

6) Regan’s tap-dancing routine. Seriously, this is the point at which the film becomes a Mel Brooks spoof.

7) The devil possesses Regan not by causing pustules to erupt on her face, green vomit to hurl from her mouth and crucifixes be applied in an unorthodox manner as in the first movie, but by putting her in a slinky nightdress and giving her a makeover. Father Lamont conducts an exorcism which dispenses with holy water, religious texts and such piffling requirements as invocations to the Almighty and takes the more direct punch-Regan-in-the-face-a-few-times-then-rip-her-heart-out route.

Midnight Fright said...

The Exorcist III is far better in terms of ambiance, story, and George C. Scott romping. But I have a soft spot in my heart for part II...the overuse of strobe lights helped.

Also...you almost dropped a Babs reference right into the middle of all that. That would potentially have constituted a hug. But alas...

B.E. Earl said...

It's been a long time since I've seen it, but I remember thinking that James Earl Jones was even more ridiculous in this than he was in that first Conan movie. That's sayin' something.

The Creep said...

Oh,thank god ... when I read that intro I was afraid The Exorcist II was the next "film club" entry. As much as I wanted to take part in the next film club, I really, really didn't want to watch TEII again.

IMHO, there is a good Exorcist sequel ... The Exorcist III. I wish Warners would splurge for Blatty's "director's cut" of the movie. I'd love to see how he wanted to wrap the film before the studio made him go all Hellraiser.

Less Lee said...

HAHA! This is awesome. Weirdly enough, I was JUST listening to the soundtrack on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iIZb0gOmFQ

I always quote this line from the movie ---> "What's the matter with you?" "Oh, I was possessed by a demon." "..." "It's okay, he's gone."

B-Sol said...

I just love listening to Sir Richard Burton say "Pazuzu".

Stacie Ponder said...

Well done, Neil...WELL DONE.

Exorcist III is a great film.

The real issue is, where was Ned Beatty in this? I didn't see him.

TrG said...

The only think I love more than this awful, awful film ... is it's wacked out ear-splitting trailer ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY0bsaDpYpY

TrG said...

Beatty plays the pilot in Africa. You may have fast-forwarded right past him...

Mr. Peel said...

Ned Beatty is the pilot who flies Richard Burton around Africa. They make a big deal about introducting him then he disappears almost immediately after and you never really see his face.

I loved reading this as you clearly tried to figure out just what this movie is. It's just a mess, almost unforgivably so. But there is something in there from its technical wizardry to, as you put it, the lofty goals about the nature of good and evil so it can't just be dismissed. But it's often intolerable and that's all on Boorman--he not only had no interest in making an EXORCIST film, he seems to have had outright contempt for the very concept of it.

Its overall delirium and Morricone score sometimes makes me think that if they added a few more dead bodies you'd have an Argento film--but the difference is that an Argento film is like an insanely fascinating discussion over wine with a brilliant intellectual at a party. Boorman makes his film the equivalent of a pretentious college professor who stinks of too many cigarettes and won't stop shouting at you about his absurd theories.

Aw, heck. Here's my own lengthy piece on it from a few years ago:

http://mrpeelsardineliqueur.blogspot.com/2008/06/on-wings-of-demon.html

Mrs. Holly Hall said...

oh Ms. Final Girl-this review totally made my lunch hour!!

:)

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks very much!

Chris Otto said...

Never seen it. Now I don't have to. Exorcist III is somewhat creepy and effective, though

The Creep said...

Thanks for taking one for the team. It's so much more fun to read about this film than to watch it.

thomwade said...

"Oh,thank god ... when I read that intro I was afraid The Exorcist II was the next "film club" entry."

Thanks, you know...for sticking the thought into the back of her brain. Really.

Wait, I brought it up again, re-enforcing the thought. OH GOD! WHAT HAVE I DONE?!

Stacie Ponder said...

Ha, I wouldn't do that to you guys. I try not to choose anything that's supposed to be terrible...however, as my other rule is "choose something I've yet to see", that can't always be avoided. Revisiting classics is game, though, as I did with The Exorcist- I do that hoping to get people to really dig into the old standbys.

Exorcist II will probably never be considered worthy of that humble goal!

Flora Isadora said...

I'm following this blog based on this entry and accompanying comments alone. 3000% awesome.

Here, I thought all these years, I was the only one with obscure running Exorcist II referencing jokes. *sigh* Another slice of 'internet' home.

veggiemacabre said...

Just saw Shutter Island and Father Merrin stars as one of the shrinks. How old is that guy now, 103?

Robert H. said...

Another fine job, Stacie... I have to admit to liking this film, once I actually got a chance to see it -- it IS a pretty lame EXORCIST movie, but on its own terms, it's fascinating.
If EXORCIST wasn't part of the equation of this film, it'd be more highly regarded... or at least have a ZARDOZ type of cult following.

When it comes to franchises, give the Mob what it wants, and don't try to upscale the product. A lesson also learned by the BLAIR WITCH 2 guys...

Joel said...

He was actually pretty young when he played Merrin, I think he was just in his forties. Sorta like Marlon Brando in The Godfather.

What I love is that this was so bad that they ended up bringing it back to "fix" it after its opening weekend. It didn't work, obviously. I read somewhere that the ushers in the theaters were heckled and threatened by angry filmgoers! Why can't people do that today with all of the crappy movies these days?

The Exorcist creeps me out to the point where as crappy as Exorcist II is, I still find parts of it creepy by association. BTW, I just read Joe Hill [Stephen King's son]'s new book HORNS and two of his characters are named Regan and Merrin!

A Case of You said...

One thing and one thing only to Neil Fulwood: ZARDOZ IS AMAZING!