On paper, Exorcist II: The Heretic was a surefire hit, coming along just four years after William Friedkin‘s The Exorcist become a cultural phenomenon and with John Boorman (Deliverance) in the director’s chair. Of course, the ’77 film was a box office disappointment that was ripped apart by critics, some calling it the worst horror movie ever made.
“I tell you, I did see a great deal of Exorcist II, under the following circumstances. I was at the Technicolor lab, color timing something, and one of the timers said, ‘We just finished Exorcist II, would you like to have a look at it?’ And I don’t know why, but I went into the room and I sat through maybe 40 minutes of it,” Friedkin told the show’s hosts.
He continued, holding nothing back, “It’s the worst piece of shit I’ve ever seen. It’s a fucking disgrace. And God, what a cast it had — Richard Burton, and Max von Sydow, and Louise Fletcher, plus Linda Blair. James Earl Jones. That’s the worst 40 minutes of film I have ever seen, really, and that’s saying a lot.”
It’s interesting to note that John Boorman was considered early on to direct The Exorcist, but he turned down the job. At the time, he says he found the story “rather repulsive.”
The Exorcist II grossed $30,749,142 in the United States, against a $14 million budget.