Exorcist II: The Heretic appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not bad, the image seemed mediocre.
Sharpness became an issue, as an awful lot of the film appeared soft and tentative. At best, delineation appeared reasonably positive, but this never became an especially well-defined presentation.
Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. In terms of print flaws, I saw a few small specks but nothing major. Grain tended to be heavier than average, though.
Colors veered toward the bland side of the street, as the movie’s earthy palette lacked much impact. The hues showed acceptable clarity but no better than that.
Blacks tended to seem somewhat inky, while shadows usually appeared a bit thick. Honestly, I suspect some of the visual concerns related to the original photography, as filters appeared to impact various areas. Nonetheless, the end result seemed surprisingly flat.
I didn’t experience anything more impressive via the film’s mediocre DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, as it lacked punch. Speech seemed somewhat stiff, but the lines remained intelligible and lacked edginess.
Music showed acceptable definition, but the score lacked range and felt a bit dull. The same went for effects, as they remained accurate enough but they didn’t deliver much obvious impact. This turned into a wholly average mix for its era.
This two-disc packages sports two separate cuts of the film. We get an Original Cut (1:57:39) as well as the Original Home Video Cut (1:42:41). For this review, I only watched the longer version but if you’d prefer a shorter edition, knock yourself out! Apparently it includes a fair number of alternate shots, so those could make it interesting as a curiosity.
Alongside the “Original Cut”, we find two separate audio commentaries, the first of which comes from director John Boorman. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at how he came to the project, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and related areas.
Though Boorman starts well, he quickly loses steam. This means that after an interesting opening, the director goes MIA for long periods and tends to deliver information on a spotty basis. These factors turn this into a frustrating commentary.
For the second commentary, we hear from special project consultant Michael Bosco. During his running, screen-specific discussion, Bosco covers a mix of areas connected to the production as well as various themes.
For the most part, Bosco brings us a good look at the film. He seems too defensive about Heretic, and his bias can be a little tough to take at times, but I admit it’s nice to hear from someone who likes the much-loathed movie. Overall, Bosco mixes nuts and bolts with interpretation/background in a satisfying manner.
A third commentary accompanies the “Video” version. Projection Booth Blog’s Mike White brings his own running, screen-specific take on various production topics, some changes made to this cut, and related movie-related domains.
White’s chat comes with a scope similar to that of Bosco’s, though he maintains less reverence toward Heretic and goes snarky at times. That’s a better approach, I think, but White presents less useful information. While he makes this a moderately informative discussion, it never becomes great.
On Disc One, two video programs also appear, and we find a new Interview with Actor Linda Blair. In this 19-minute, 16-second piece, Blair chats about her decision to appear in the sequel, her co-stars, aspects of the shoot, and various problems along the way.
Blair offers a good discussion, one that looks at both positives and negatives. While she doesn’t pile on, she covers concerns in a frank way and makes this a worthwhile piece.
An Interview with Editor Tom Priestley goes for six minutes, 57 seconds and offers Priestley’s thoughts about how he came to the project as well as his work on the film. This becomes a short but informative chat.
On Disc Two, we find two trailers as well as five Still Galleries. These cover “Black & White Stills” (127 shots), “Deleted Scene Photos” (5), “Color Stills” (55), “Behind the Scenes” (53) and “Poster and Lobby Cards” (97). All of those add up to a good compilation of images.
No one expected another classic from Exorcist II: The Heretic, but viewers wanted something with a pulse. Heretic lacks even basic energy or power, as it turns into a sluggish, moronic attempt to cash in on its predecessor. The Blu-ray brings mediocre picture and audio as well as a nice array of supplements. This ends up as a terrible sequel.