Exorcist II: The Heretic

Director: John Boorman

U.S.A.| 1977. Colour. 117 mins.

The makers of sequels to successful movies are usually content to serve up more of the same, but Boorman has never been one for the easy option. Offered the follow-up to one of the most popular and commercially successful horror movies ever made, he chose to strike out on his own utterly idiosyncratic path. The Heretic serves up no revolving heads, pea-soup vomiting or babbled obscenities: instead we have the metaphysical struggle of a doubt-ridden Jesuit priest (Richard Burton, gaunt and tormented), played out largely amid the scorching sands and locust swarms of Saharan Africa. The studio was appalled, the critics scornful and the fans (who did want more of the same) stayed away in droves. In an attempt to impose coherence on the sprawling narrative, Boorman released his own re-cut version, but still couldn’t save the film from financial disaster. The Heretic is a mess, but a mess of staggeringly imaginative scope.
*We will be showing Mr. Boorman’s own cut of this film, which is substantially different to the release version.

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