I know The Exorcist (1973) was a tough act to follow, but few filmmakers have torched expectations like the makers of the ludicrous, self-serious Exorcist II: The Heretic did. Maybe it's best to blame the debacle of Exorcist II on the excesses of the '70s. Director John Boorman and his co-writer Rospo Pallenberg (credited as 'creative associate,' Boorman brought Pallenberg on after original Exorcist II screenwriter William Goodhart refused to make the changes to the script that Boorman wanted) must've been high on something more than just their own egos if they thought their film was going to satisfy audiences. If nothing else, only in the '70s would a production of such importance to a studio balloon into a film so strange, inept and willfully difficult without someone writing the checks getting wise to the fact that they were funding a disaster.
But at least Exorcist II is terrible in an ambitious way. It's a mess but it's the kind of mess that would never be made today and that's both good and bad. On the one hand, it's a dick move to fuck with the audience by giving them a self-indulgent head-trip (and a bad self-indulgent head-trip at that) when they're paying good money to see a scary movie. On the other hand, if you're going to fail, fail big, and that's something that's rarely allowed to happen in these safe times.
Every time I watch the trailer for Exorcist II: The Heretic, I become convinced that there must be an amazing movie in there someplace (how can it not be a party with all those swarming locusts?). I haven't watched it in years but I'm thinking that maybe I ought to make the time. This trailer's got a great beat, and you can dance to it.
Almost as great as the trailer is Exorcist II's teaser. Love the use of still photographs here: