Four years after she was possessed by the demon Pazuzu, 18-year-old Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) is living a quiet life under the watchful eye of child psychologist Dr Gene Tuskin (Louise Fletcher).
To understand and dissolve Regan’s memories of her earlier possession, Tuskin uses advanced biofeedback techniques to synchronise two peoples’ hypnotic states, overlapping their trance images.
She becomes convinced that something evil is still lurking within her patient and calls in Father Philip Lamont (Richard Burton), a maverick priest haunted by memories of an exorcism that went tragically wrong many years before in Africa.
This critical and financial disaster takes too long (almost two hours) to make its points, and the acting is mostly subdued and sometimes not that good. The film was tampered with by the studio after audiences cracked up at the devilish finale.
They deleted the original ending where Father Lamont and Regan walk out of the Georgetown house and into the sunset while the neighbourhood fails to notice that the house has burst into flames, and added a prologue where Richard Burton’s voice discusses exorcism over some stills from The Exorcist.
Exorcist II: The Heretic is a prime example of a sequel that was crying out not to be made, with needless explication ruining the original’s mystery and Richard Burton clearly miles away.
All the African mumbo jumbo is bewildering, and Warner Pictures appear to have disowned it.
Father Philip Lamont
Dr Gene Tuskin
Max von Sydow
James Earl Jones