Exorcist II: The Heretic [1977]

This sequel to the Oscar-winning horror film based on the novel by William Peter Blatty was virtually laughed off the screen when it came out in 1977. It was an unintentionally hilarious mishmash and received such terrible reviews that director John Boorman yanked it out of theaters. He reedited it, cutting eight minutes in hopes of getting the story (written by William Goodhart) to the point of coherency, to no avail. The film remains a kind of reverse gold standard for sequels. It's still a ridiculously overacted, although at times visually haunting, movie. Richard Burton stars as a troubled priest (something of a specialty of his) who is brought in to follow up on the case of Linda Blair, who is institutionalized, still troubled by her encounter with the devil (who wouldn't be?). By the time they confront Satan's minion in the final struggle, you'll be rooting for evil to win. --Marshall Fine

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