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Exorcist II: The Heretic – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory is releasing the mother of all horror films, a timeless classic that made an everlasting impression upon release that shocked audiences around the globe; The Exorcist…II…The Heretic. Yes, that notorious film known as one of the worst sequels (And films) of all time that had audiences literally chasing producers out of a theater they were so appalled, is getting a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. NOW, for me, this is the PERFECT film to do a big Collector’s Edition for, because maaaan, there have got to be some incredible stories from this production as well as answers to questions regarding the baffling decisions made. With the blunt and honest interviews they get for these, it makes the bonus features worth the purchase alone. So, join together with me, and get your pre-order in to have it ready and waiting for you when it arrives September 25th!

Film 

Owing to his experience with exorcisms, Father Lamont is chosen by his superiors to investigate the death of Father Merrin, who died during the exorcism of young Regan MacNeil. Lamont finds Regan under the psychiatric care of Dr. Tuskin. By hypnotizing the girl, he is able to learn that Merrin previously exorcised the same demon from a boy in Africa. Hoping for answers, Lamont travels to Africa in search of the youth.

And here I thought I was done with Exorcist II: The Heretic this year. Scream Factory has said, “Hold on a moment, no you’re not”. While not a fan of this movie, I am very excited about this release. This is the type of cinematic mishap that needs a Collector’s Edition. I want commentaries for it, I want brand new (Hopefully brutally honest) interviews. I’ve had wonders and questions about the baffling decisions and mindf***ery this movie has displayed for years. I’ve exhausted myself on my thoughts regarding the theatrical cut of the film and really don’t need to repeat myself, so I’ll refer you to my podcast HERE for an entertaining dissection of it.

What really intrigued me about this release is the inclusion of the Original Home Video Cut of the film. My memory escapes me as to whether I had seen this edit of the film before. I probably had, but cannot recall much of it. I must say, I really appreciate them hacking it up. The film still hits all the important beats it had before, but now moves at a more watchable and “enjoyable” (Let me put that lightly) pace. Its still over an hour and a half, but its a more friendly runtime for revisiting this bit of trashy wonder. The cuts here cheapen some artistic quality, but this is the artistic quality, but right from the opening it has some better music and gets right to the point. Stupid things, like a lot of the tap dancing, gross Lamont/Pazuzu Reagan petting sessions and such struck from the film.

Exorcist II: The Heretic cannot be denied its legendary status as both a terrible film and a terrible sequel. Its complete cult film on both ends of the spectrum. For some, its carries a humorous midnight movie quality to it. There’s another half of people who actually, GENUINELY enjoy it and feel it is a film that they “get” and many others don’t. That’s pretty cool. I’m someone off from both of those. I laugh at some parts but am just unamused with a lot of it. I think there are some terrific ideas presented in the film that either aren’t explored, aren’t executed well or just don’t turn out. I will say the film does fascinate me enough that I do revisit it from time to time just to…well…I can’t explain why, really? I might just still be searching for a reason to join either side of the cult party. With this shorter cut of the film, I think I can actually enjoy and appreciate the film a hair better.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD

Clarity/Detail:  Exorcist II: The Heretic gets a new 2K scan from the original film elements for this Collector’s Edition release. That goes for both versions of the film. Its a much more crisper, detailed picture featuring a bit more lively color saturation and pop. Warner Bros has done a more minimalist transplant before (I mean, its one of their worst films in studio history, not surprised they didn’t go all out), but Scream Factory has came and given it a loving make-over and should make fans of the film VERY happy with how restored and impressive it now looks.

Depth: Depth of field is pretty good here with a very nice separation of characters in the foreground and backgrounds having a little bit more pushback. Movements are smooth and cinematic and no blurs or jitters were seen during this viewing.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and much better saturated this time around. Shadow work is done quite well and details come through much better and are less hidden in darker areas.

Color Reproduction: There are some solid colors here at times, but mostly the look is a bit of a 70s washed out one. Things are improved though, as yellow seats on a plane look much bolder and reds in outfits and uniforms stick out more.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. One apparent uptick is the facial features and texture that are more apparent in this version. Richard Burton’s acne scarred faces and wrinkles are much more apparent.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Audio for the theatrical version of the film I believe is the same as the previous release. The mono track on the Original Home Video Cut is pretty comparable to it. They feature a solid balance and are a little low by default, so you’ll want to turn your receiver up. Its very light on the low end stuff, so you won’t be getting much oompf from it. Overall, its a serviceable presentation of a bad movie. We’ll survive.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear, with good clarity during any kind of loud pandemonium. There’s a little bit of analog tracing inherent in the mix for it.

Extras 

Exorcist II: The Heretic – Collector’s Edition is a 2-Disc set.

Disc 1 – Original Cut

Audio Commentary

  • With Director John Boorman
  • With Project Consultant Scott Bosco

Interview With Actress Linda Blair (HD, 19:16) – A very candid and honest interview with Linda Blair who was excited about the project, feeling the script and all the other elements were there going in (“The soup was good”), but it wound up becoming a series of strange rewrites and last minute details. Though she says “Too many cooks spoiled the brew”, John Boorman seems to take the blunt of her blame for the film, with her hiding her face, slapping her knee and throwing up her arms at many points in her interview. An interesting anecdote she provides is that (While she was smitten with him) Richard Burton performed reading cue cards the whole time. This is interview answers questions but also adds another layer “What the f*** were they thinking?” to the film and makes you feel pretty sorry for Linda. “If you enjoy the movie, great! If you don’t, I get it, but I didn’t write it.”

Interview With Editor Tom Priestley (HD, 6:57) – He briefly goes over his experience editing the film and his previous working relationship with John Boorman. Priestly has a thick British accent and tends to jumble up words and not be the greatest descriptor of the process. But such is the course for Exorcist II: The Heretic, right?

Disc 2 – Original Home Video Cut

Audio Commentary

  • With Mike White of the The Projection Booth Blog

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:58)

Teaser Trailer (HD, 1:19)

Still Galleries

  • Black & White Stills (HD, 10:32)
  • Deleted Scene Photos (HD, :26)
  • Color Stills (HD, 4:34)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Gallery (HD, 4:25)
  • Poster and Lobby Cards (HD, 8:03)

Summary 

Scream Factory has easily improved Warner Bros original release of Exorcist II: The Heretic with their new 2-Disc Collector’s Edition. It has a vault of information and fun to be had with the film via commentaries and interviews. We are also given the shorter, better moving cut of the film to take less time to torture our curiosity for future viewings. Video quality has also seen a nice jump from the lacking effort prior seen on Blu-ray. This film is notorious, its just as bad as you’ve heard, but its also a collector’s item for horror fans and a bizarre itch I tend to scratch ever couple years. With very terrific Collector’s Edition releases of this and The Exorcist III, both containing 2 different versions of each film, you’d have to think a The Beginning/Dominion 2-Disc Collector’s Edition is on the horizon.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Exorcist II: The Heretic – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Dave

    I’m so gonna hate myself, but I have to get this.