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Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) Movie review

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) Finally gave this one a chance. The sequel basically tries to answer the question of why the possession happened in the first place. The answer is that Regan is a latent psychic healer and the demon is attempting to destroy her because of this, same as it tried to destroy the James Earl Jones character when he was young, and also the girl in the beginning credits. This is pretty obviously stated and cross referenced in the film. The movie also tries to show that the Catholic Church will label as evil anything that is outside of the Church, whether it is actually evil or not, as it may not automatically be. But also that evil will leave its mark on those seeking it out. Regan seems to have made her peace with either the events of her past or the demon itself. It is the interfering of the scientific and religious investigators that stir up trouble again. The priest is not necessarily possessed, but certainly tempted and affected by his encounter with the entity. A light criticism of the vows of celibacy. "Have you ever found that you need a woman?" is responded with a blunt "Yes." by the priest. And of course the demon's temptation is one of the flesh. There is the aspect of both religion and science attempting to explain unknown phenomena, each in its own way, and yet one needing the other to get a complete picture. Thus the film is not necessarily against one or the other, and in fact it presents that human beings need a balance of both. One will fill in the gaps left by the other. Seems a fairly balanced view to me. The film is barely a horror film, though there are a couple of horrible things in it. Look at it as Curse of The Cat People, being a sequel to Cat People, while approaching the character and the story on a completely different way. Heretic (even the title makes sense, as the priest must leave the Church to explore/investigate the exorcism of the first movie under orders of the Church itself,) is a fantasy with horrifying aspects, but ultimately it is a Head film, very much exploring psychic phenomena with scientific intent (I guess the beginnings of the current New Age movement,) as other films in the vein of Ken Russell's Altered States also did. Not as bad as critics have made it out to be. Sure, there are a couple of incomprehensible scenes (I have been more tolerant at worse films,) specifically at the climax: why does the priest need to travel to the old house (other than to satisfy the need for visual references to the first movie,) and why does the Sharon character end up being a bad gal and why does she immolate herself? Why is there a second posesed ugly/"beautiful." Regan, obviously we are not seeing somthing 'real,' but a vision of the type we saw while the two were synced. Just a comment on the "beautiful." Regan. It just seems wrong, she is still pretty much a chubby cheeked, baby fat kid, and it seems incredible that she could be presented as a Jezebel/seductress. Yet there she is... I know that there are an infinite amount of variants including TV and cable cuts. But the DVD (theatrical?) seemed pretty straightforward to me. Maybe people just were not ready for it at the time.

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