The original cast and crew of The Exorcist (1973) were very much opposed to a sequel. William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty actually met to discuss ideas at one point, but when they failed to develop a suitable premise, they abandoned the project. Both Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn turned down repeated offers by the studio, though Blair eventually agreed to return when presented with what she considered a good script. However, according to Blair, due to various rewrites the script ended up a total mess. By that point, however, she was contractually bound to a sequel, and unable to drop out of the project.101 of 105 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Friedkin, director of the first film, told a story, recalled to by a Warner Bros. executive, at the Chicago Critics Film Festival in April 2013. Studio heads came to the sneak preview of “Exorcist II” in a limo, and told the drivers to go get fast food. They entered the auditorium, and within 10 minutes into the film, an audience member stood up, glanced into the crowd, and proclaimed: “The people who made this piece of shit are in this room!” 10 or 12 other audience members gathered to find the executives. The heads rushed out of the theater and realized that there were no cars to make their escape. They were subsequently chased down the street by a group of angry audience members.175 of 189 found this interesting | Share thisStanley Kubrick turned down the offer to direct. When John Boorman accepted, Kubrick warned him that the only way a sequel to “The Exorcist” would succeed is if it were to be more graphic and horrific than the original.95 of 102 found this interesting | Share thisLinda Blair refused to be subjected to the makeup she wore in the first film. In flashback scenes, the possessed Regan was played by a double.62 of 66 found this interesting | Share thisThe original, opening night version of this film was so poorly received that the audience at a theater on Hollywood Blvd. actually threw things at the screen to express their disgust when it was over.75 of 81 found this interesting | Share thisThis film, along with The Exorcist (1973) and The Exorcist III (1990), were serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s favorite films. One of his surviving victims recalls seeing him watch this film repeatedly in a trance-like state.56 of 61 found this interesting | Share thisAt the time of its release, this was the most expensive film produced by Warner Bros.47 of 51 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Peter Blatty, author of the original novel, reportedly had to stifle his own laughter upon viewing the film at the premiere.57 of 63 found this interesting | Share thisLinda Blair has said that Richard Burton started out sober, but frequently became drunk during the middle and end of filming. She also says that tensions were high among the cast.62 of 69 found this interesting | Share thisLinda Blair has stated in interviews that she and Richard Burton got along beautifully and that he would often come around her quoting William Shakespeare.48 of 53 found this interesting | Share thisRichard Burton only agreed to make the film in return for Columbia casting him as Dr. Martin Dysart in Equus (1977), which he had played on stage.34 of 37 found this interesting | Share thisOn the night of the premiere, the movie was laughed off the screen. Things were tolerable until the “synchronizer” machine was introduced, and it went straight downhill from there.64 of 73 found this interesting | Share thisBecause of her resemblance to Ellen Burstyn, Louise Fletcher was originally cast as Chris MacNeil when Burstyn had refused to reprise her role. Fletcher was eventually re-cast as Dr. Gene Tuskin, a role originally written for a man, when a suitable male actor couldn’t be found and as a result Kitty Winn was contacted to reprise her role as Regan’s nanny Sharon Spencer to fill in for Regan’s mother.27 of 29 found this interesting | Share thisMartin Scorsese was one of the few people who liked the film. “The picture asks: Does great goodness bring upon itself great evil? This goes back to the Book of Job; it’s God testing the good. In this sense, Regan (Linda Blair) is a modern-day saint – like Ingrid Bergman in Europe ’51 (1952), and in a way, like Charlie in Mean Streets (1973). I like the first Exorcist, because of the Catholic guilt I have, and because it scared the hell out of me; but The Heretic surpasses it. Maybe Boorman failed to execute the material, but the movie still deserved better than it got.”52 of 59 found this interesting | Share thisDirector John Boorman pulled the film out of theaters twice to do some more editing.42 of 47 found this interesting | Share thisAlthough widely regarded as a flop, the film was actually the only one of the sequels/prequels to show a profit on its theatrical release despite being a major underperformer and a critical embarrassment to the studio. However, the film’s critical reception was so bad that plans for a second sequel were promptly dropped. The Exorcist III (1990) would not come out for 13 years.42 of 47 found this interesting | Share thisLinda Blair was already in the midst of her drug habits and constantly turned up late to shooting, to the point where she actually considered it an achievement that she was only 20 minutes late one day.42 of 47 found this interesting | Share thisJohn Boorman confessed that “The sin I committed was not giving the audience what it wanted in terms of horror…There’s this wild beast out there which is the audience. I created this arena and I just didn’t throw enough Christians into it.”20 of 21 found this interesting | Share thisIn one scene (lasting eight minutes and ten seconds), the camera cuts to close-ups of Lamont in which he’s neither moving nor speaking, 26 times (not counting genuine reaction shots).25 of 27 found this interesting | Share thisRichard Burton openly admitted in interviews that this was a paycheck picture for him. “I had a divorce coming up (to Elizabeth Taylor). I needed money for that”.25 of 27 found this interesting | Share thisIn a 2005 interview, John Boorman remarked: “It all comes down to audience expectations. The film that I made, I saw as a kind of riposte to the ugliness and darkness of The Exorcist (1973) – I wanted a film about journeys that was positive, about good, essentially. And I think that audiences, in hindsight, were right. I denied them what they wanted and they were pissed off about it – quite rightly, I knew I wasn’t giving them what they wanted and it was a really foolish choice. The film itself, I think, is an interesting one – there’s some good work in it – but when they came to me with it I told John Calley, who was running Warner Bros. then, that I didn’t want it. “Look,” I said, “I have daughters, I don’t want to make a film about torturing a child,” which is how I saw the original film. But then I read a three-page treatment for a sequel written by a man named William Goodhart and I was really intrigued by it because it was about goodness. I saw it then as a chance to film a riposte to the first picture. But it had one of the most disastrous openings ever – there were riots! And we recut the actual prints in the theatres, about six a day, but it didn’t help of course and I couldn’t bear to talk about it, or look at it, for years.”34 of 38 found this interesting | Share thisLinda Blair called this “one of the big disappointments of my career”.29 of 32 found this interesting | Share thisJohn Boorman was originally offered the opportunity to direct The Exorcist (1973) but passed because he found the script repulsive. Instead, he made Zardoz (1974).38 of 43 found this interesting | Share thisIn one of the last scenes, when the house is shaking and the bed rolling, Linda Blair fell off the bed into a crack in the floor. Viewing dailies showed this to be a superior way of dealing with Blair’s character, but a stagehand jumped into the scene to rescue her from injury and the shot was unusable.23 of 25 found this interesting | Share thisOriginally, the script had a major role for Lee J. Cobb‘s character of “Lt. Kinderman” from the first film, but upon Cobb’s death the entire film was reworked. The script for “The Heretic” apparently bore no resemblance to William Peter Blatty‘s “Legion”, which hasn’t been written then, and which was later made into The Exorcist III (1990) and featured “Lt. Kinderman” (then played by George C. Scott) in a starring role.22 of 24 found this interesting | Share thisThe production was refused permission to film at just about every location they asked for (including the house from the first film), leading to them having to recreate everything on the studio backlot and inflating the $9,000,000 budget all the way up to $14,000,000.22 of 24 found this interesting | Share thisThe film’s producers deliberately intended the film to be less graphic in content and less dark in tone than its predecessor. In fact, they were expecting the Motion Picture Association of America to grant the film a PG rating as opposed to the R rating the first film got (or the X rating a few people felt it deserved). It got an R anyway.11 of 11 found this interesting | Share thisAccording to the film’s co-producer Richard Lederer, Exorcist II was conceived as a relatively low-budget affair: “What we essentially wanted to do with the sequel was to redo the first movie… Have the central figure, an investigative priest, interview everyone involved with the exorcism, then fade out to unused footage, unused angles from the first film. A low-budget rehash – about $3 million – of The Exorcist (1973), a rather cynical approach to movie-making, I’ll admit. But that was the start.”11 of 11 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Friedkin recalled seeing the film – “I was at Technicolor and a guy said ‘We just finished a print of Exorcist II, do you wanna have a look at it?’ And I looked at half an hour of it and I thought it was as bad as seeing a traffic accident in the street. It was horrible. It’s just a stupid mess made by a dumb guy – John Boorman by name, somebody who should be nameless but in this case should be named. Scurrilous. A horrible picture.” Friedkin later stated that this sequel diminished the value of the original and called it “one of the worst films I’ve ever seen”. He later added, “That film was made by a demented mind”.38 of 44 found this interesting | Share thisDana Plato plays an uncredited role in this movie, Sandrah Phalor, the little girl at Dr Tuskin’s parapsychology clinic that Regan counsels at the beginning. She was rumoured to be considered to play Regan in The Exorcist (1973).16 of 17 found this interesting | Share thisJohn Boorman filmed the scene on Regan’s balcony, which isn’t a set, knowing full well he had no way of catching Linda Blair if she fell. Her screams of fear are real.45 of 53 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Peter Blatty claimed to have been the first person to start laughing at the theater at which he saw the film, only to be followed by the other patrons (“You’d think we were watching The Producers (1967)).24 of 27 found this interesting | Share thisJohn Boorman was unhappy with William Goodhart‘s script, and asked Goodhart to do a rewrite, incorporating ideas from Rospo Pallenberg. Goodhart refused, and so the script was subsequently rewritten by Pallenberg and Boorman. Goodhart’s script was being constantly rewritten as the film was shooting, with the filmmakers uncertain as to how the story should end. Linda Blair recalls “It was a really good script at first. Then after everybody signed on they rewrote it five times and it ended up nothing like the same movie.”23 of 26 found this interesting | Share thisPlaywright William Goodhart was commissioned to write the screenplay, titled The Heretic. He based it around the theories of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (the Jesuit paleontologist/archaeologist who had inspired the character of Father Merrin in William Peter Blatty‘s novel The Exorcist). Goodhart’s screenplay took a more metaphysical and intellectual approach compared with the original film. Here, the battle between good and evil would centre on human consciousness-with the specific idea that, within the framework of Catholic theology, human consciousnesses could be brought together as one through technology, although this would also result in conflict between those who sought good and evil.9 of 9 found this interesting | Share thisThis film is listed among the Top Ten Best Bad Films ever made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson’s book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE MOVIE GUIDE.18 of 20 found this interesting | Share thisOriginal rough cut of the movie was 3 hours long. Amongst the scenes which were deleted from the final version there was a special effects sequence of the African church being destroyed by the demon.25 of 29 found this interesting | Share thisJon Voight originally agreed to play Father Lamont before dropping out over concerns with the screenplay. He felt the script was flawed from a Catholic point of view. He made some considerable script revisions but none were used and he departed the project. David Carradine and Jack Nicholson were considered to play the part: the studio rejected Carradine due to an ongoing dispute with him over his Kung Fu (1972) TV series, while Nicholson’s salary demands were deemed too high.20 of 23 found this interesting | Share thisDuring the filming, director John Boorman contracted San Joaquin Valley Fever (a respiratory fungal infection), which caused filming to be suspended for five weeks. It was determined to be caused from the dust used in the African sets from the film.16 of 18 found this interesting | Share thisIn the book The Golden Turkey Awards, this film was voted the second worst movie of all time. It “lost” the number one spot to Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957).12 of 13 found this interesting | Share thisJohn Boorman was attracted to the film, because “the idea of making a metaphysical thriller greatly appealed to my psyche”.11 of 12 found this interesting | Share thisLinda Blair claims, because of the rewrites, that the finished film was nothing like what she agreed to film and that to this day she doesn’t understand what the locusts were supposed to represent.7 of 7 found this interesting | Share thisThe swarms of locusts were realized by painting a few thousand Styrofoam packing peanuts brown and shooting them out of a large air blower. Director John Boorman had experimented with a number of techniques to get actual grasshoppers to swarm around (including clipping their legs off so they couldn’t land!), but none were convincing enough for him, so they used the peanuts (nicknamed “Larrys” by the crew).20 of 24 found this interesting | Share thisChristopher Walken was also considered to play Father Lamont, but the studio management was opposed to his casting.14 of 16 found this interesting | Share thisAlthough it is often regarded as one of the worst sequels ever made, and one of the worst movies ever made in general, over the years it has developed a small cult following, especially among fans of John Boorman.24 of 30 found this interesting | Share thisWhen the role of Dr. Tuskin was still written as male, Alan Arkin, Richard Dreyfuss, Chris Sarandon, George Segal, Martin Sheen, Gene Wilder and David Carradine were considered. Director John Boorman passed on Sarandon, and Segal’s salary demands were too high. When the decision was made to make Dr. Tuskin a woman, the screenwriter suggested Jane Fonda or Ann-Margret before Boorman decided upon Louise Fletcher who was originally cast as Chris MacNeil when the role was still in the script.16 of 19 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Friedkin and William Peter Blatty were repeatedly asked for ideas for a sequel, but turned the studio down on finding out that the producer assigned the project, Richard Lederer, wanted them to just make a quick-and-dirty sequel to exploit the first film’s success. Instead, a screenplay was commissioned from William Goodhart, whose only other screenplay credit was A Time for Giving (1969). The exact contents of Goodhart’s screenplay have never been made publicly known, but apparently mixed in the first film’s themes with a lot of odd metaphysical symbolism.13 of 15 found this interesting | Share thisJohn Boorman was laid low by a serious lung infection for a month, resulting in Rospo Pallenberg – who had never directed a film before – taking over as director for many key sequences.13 of 15 found this interesting | Share thisIn a 1977 TV interview with Ludovic Kennedy, discussing his career renaissance, Richard Burton says that after a long absence from the screen “I did a film which was not very good, but then I did the film of Equus (1977), which IS very good”. The film he politely doesn’t name is Exorcist II.6 of 6 found this interesting | Share thisLinda Blair claims Richard Burton read off cue cards for several scenes throughout the movie.6 of 6 found this interesting | Share thisAlthough Pauline Kael hated the original film, once again going against the grain, she loved Part 2; ” The film is too cadenced and exotic and too deliriously complicated to succeed with most audiences (and when it opened, there were accounts of people in theatres who threw things at the screen). But it’s winged camp-a horror fairy tale gone wild, another in the long history of moviemakers’ king-size follies. There’s enough visual magic in it for a dozen good movies”. This is unusual, as most critics despised this movie.6 of 6 found this interesting | Share thisPauline Kael was one of the few critics who liked this movie. This is mostly because Regan is exploited less; no masturbation with a crucifix, etc. She detested the original and wrote a scathing review about Linda Blair being exploited by the movie.14 of 17 found this interesting | Share thisThe film was rushed into production because 20th Century Fox released The Exorcist (1973) inspired horror film The Omen (1976), which got good reviews and was a smash hit. This inspired Warner Bros. to get out a sequel, even though the writer William Peter Blatty, the director William Friedkin and the star Ellen Burstyn all said they were not interested.11 of 13 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam O’Malley was contacted to reprise his role as Father Joseph Dyer from the first film. However, O’Malley was busy and could not take up the part, and the character of Father Dyer was changed to Father Philip Lamont.10 of 12 found this interesting | Share thisQuentin Tarantino is one of the few people who liked the film, even using a song by Ennio Morricone in The Hateful Eight (2015).20 of 28 found this interesting | Share thisFinal film of Paul Henreid.12 of 16 found this interesting | Share thisEditor Sam O’Steen was originally scheduled to direct, but the studio decided it wanted a more experienced director and went with John Boorman.8 of 10 found this interesting | Share thisLinda Blair said in one interview that Rospo Pallenberg directed a lot of the film as well as doing rewrites. Pallenberg was credited as the second unit director and a “creative associate”.6 of 7 found this interesting | Share thisKitty Winn was very hesitant to return to her role as Sharon for this film. She’d found making the original film very traumatic, and reliving the memories of it caused her a great deal of emotional stress filming this sequel.6 of 7 found this interesting | Share thisLinda Blair had to take tap dancing lessons for the film. Although she loathed it, she came to respect the craft and embraced the opportunity.2 of 2 found this interesting | Share thisHalfway through production, director John Boorman was struck down by a rare tropical fungus. Unfortunately for him, this was first diagnosed as syphilis, much to his wife’s horror.2 of 2 found this interesting | Share thisJohn Boorman‘s autobiography recalls an anecdote in which he claims Linda Blair came up to him one day during the beleaguered shoot and perkily announced, “without irony,” “Did they tell you? I was only ten minutes late this morning!”11 of 21 found this interesting | Share thisCritical reviews for the film were horrible and scathing at the time. It was one of the worst reviewed movies ever at the time. This can be see as ironic, as John Boorman deliberately toned down the gore and graphic sexual content compared to the first film, in favor of over the top Sci-fi imagery: (plagues of locusts, and other phantasmagoria not in the first movie). The film was still critically panned anyway. Whereas in the first film there were scathing reviews about how exploitative it was, for this film it was just the quality that was reviled. This is one of the more scathing criticisms of the film: “”Exorcist II is demonstrably the worst film ever made. It took the greatest film ever made and trashed it in a way that was on one level farcically stupid and on another level absolutely unforgivable. Everyone involved in this, apart from Linda Blair, should be ashamed for all eternity.” (Mark Kermode)3 of 4 found this interesting | Share thisIn a recent documentary about the making of this movie; Linda Blair said director John Boorman approached her and said, “I want you to learn tap dancing for this movie. I think Reagan needs to tap dance in this movie.”. And Blair laughed in his face and said “Reagan ain’t no tap dancer.”Is this interesting? | Share thisIn the original script Reagan/Passuzu turns into a temptress; which then inspires Fr. Lamont to rape her; which then sends Lamont into a despairing tailspin leading to his self destruction. (All part of Passuzu’s plan). But Blair pulled aside Boorman and the crew before shooting started and said, “listen. I don’t know what kind of ugliness you have planned here but just forget it. It’s not happening.”. So the replacement scene just has Lamont losing control and mounting her for a second; and then pulling back in horror. As it was, Blair said filming those erotic scenes between her, a 17 year old, and 42 year old married and middle-aged Burton were “very ackward and uncomfortable”.Is this interesting? | Share thisLinda Blair said Elizabeth Taylor was often on set with the rest of the crew and cast.Is this interesting? | Share thisThe film’s cast includes 1 Oscar Winner: Louise Fletcher, and 4 Oscar Nominees: Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Richard Burton, Ned Beatty and James Earl Jones.1 of 6 found this interesting | Share this
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.Shortly after its premiere, John Boorman went back to re-cut the film in response to poor audience reactions, although this version fared no better. Boorman shortened and changed the order of certain scenes, deleted lines of dialogue, changed some musical cues, and added an introduction with narration by Richard Burton, and cutting all footage of Burton after his character, Father Lamont, fights Regan’s doppelganger, cutting immediately to the end credits after Regan walks out of the rubble of the townhouse. This gives audiences the impression that Father Lamont dies during the climax. The only other significant change of the recut ending is that Sharon’s death is not shown, leaving the viewer presuming that she survived at the end of the film. The major plot, though, is not significantly different between the two versions of the film. The version is known as the director’s recut and, for a long time, was only available on VHS until Shout Factory released it on Blu-ray alongside the theatrical cut in a special collector’s edition.17 of 18 found this interesting | Share thisThe only actors to reprise their roles from the previous film were Linda Blair, Kitty Winn, and Max von Sydow though he only appears in flashbacks to Africa and his death by a possessed Regan (not archive footage though).17 of 18 found this interesting | Share thisDespite Ellen Burstyn‘s repeated refusals of the offer to return, most drafts of the screenplay featured Chris in a central role, eventually dying at the end of the film and passing Regan’s custody onto Father Lamont. Due to their resemblance, Louise Fletcher was hired to replace her as Chris MacNeil when the role was still in the script. It wasn’t until shortly before shooting and Kitty Winn agreeing to return that her role was swapped for that of Sharon and Fletcher took the role of Dr. Gene Tuskin instead.22 of 25 found this interesting | Share thisThe scene where Regan’s demon manifestation seduces Father Lamont was originally set to be much more sexually explicit, graphic, and offensively grotesque. When Linda Blair and Richard Burton found out about it, both refused to do it. Richard Burton, who was 52 years old at the time and a notorious playboy, was not comfortable engaging in the scripted lewd acts with then 17-year-old Linda Blair, as he viewed her as a daughter figure. Blair herself viewed Burton as a sort of mentor and father figure and expressed discomfort in having to sexually entice him in such a lascivious manner. John Borman eventually agreed to tone down the scene, but none the less it was still an uncomfortable experience for both the actors.