As I’m sure you know, Exorcist II: The Heretic isn’t exactly universally loved. In fact, if you look up lists of worst sequels of all time, you’ll usually find this film on the those you come across.
But have you ever wondered what William Friedkin, director of the original masterpiece, thinks of it? To say he’s not a fan is a bit of an understatement.
I’ve been watching a lot of Mick Garris interviews lately. If you haven’t checked out the YouTube channel, which launched in 2014, I strongly recommend doing so. A few months ago, the channel added a rare and never-aired episode of the Z-Channel series hosted by Garris. The channel was about to air Exorcist II, as Garris mentioned, before asking Friedkin what he thought of the sequel. Friedkin’s response is priceless.[youtube id=”UjWhakapmyQ” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
“I felt that The Exorcist was totally complete in itself, and to do a sequel, would just be done for commercial purposes and no other. The so-called sequel – ‘The Harry Tick,’ or whatever they refer to it as – to me it’s an abomination. Not because it’s a bad movie, which it is (a BAD movie), wrought by people who are, in my opinion, fourth and fifth rate intellects, but what they attempted to do was to trash the original material rather than to take a story and to try to do a story that utilized some of the same strengths of The Exorcist, all they did was take the title and the logo type and some of the characters and trash them.”
He continued, “To me, that film (if it can be called a film…it’s an abomination, and I think this channel ought to be ashamed of itself for running it) would be the equivalent of someone taking a novel by Tolstoy or Charles Dickens…taking the title and the characters and coming up with a porno musical. I mean I’ve seen works of pornography that have more integrity than that picture.”
I wonder why the channel never aired that interview. If you actually watch the video (this segment comes around 15 minutes in), you can see how upset Friedkin was about the movie. This is the most irate I’ve ever seen anyone in a Mick Garris interview because Garris is so mild mannered and friendly. It’s really something to see.
Friedkin discussed the “abomination” again as recently as April of 2013 in a Q&A at the Chicago Critics Film Festival, when he admitted he didn’t see the whole film. Still, his opinion of it apparently hasn’t changed much.[youtube id=”2D4cPXpvHjI” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
Friedkin said he had only seen two or three minutes of Exorcist II.
He added, “I was at the Technicolor Lab, and one of the color timers said, ‘Hey, we’re running Exorcist II. Do you want to go into the screening room and have a look at it?’ I was over there doing something else, and I said, ‘Okay, sure.’ So I went into the screening room, and I see some guy’s riding on the back of a bumblebee or some fuckin’ thing. It was unreal. And I left.”
He then went on to tell a story about the first screening of Exorcist II. As it goes, some Warner Bros. executives went into the packed theater after telling their limo drivers they’d be in there for two and a half hours or so. This would enable the drivers to leave and go grab some coffee or something before coming back to pick the execs up. Roughly ten minutes into the movie, someone in the middle of the theater stood up and said, “The people who made this piece of shit are in this room.” Somebody else said, ‘Where? Where are they?” Ten or twelve people got up, and the execs ran out of the theater, and the cars were gone. They were chased down the street.
I don’t know how much truth there is to that story, but it’s pretty hilarious to think about.
Friedkin said he hadn’t seen any of the sequels other than that few minutes of The Heretic. He also said he hadn’t seen Repossessed (the parody film starring Linda Blair and Leslie Nielsen). I do find it interesting if he’s never seen The Exorcist III, as it was written and directed by William Peter Blatty, who was responsible for the original, and for whom Friedkin obviously has had a tremendous amount of respect for.
Now, for the fun of it, here’s Eli Roth talking about The Heretic on Trailers from Hell:[youtube id=”Edc-OtblZus” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
What do you think about Exorcist II? Do you hate it as much as Friedkin or do you have a soft spot for it?