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(Credit: David Shankbone)

The unusual horror sequel Martin Scorsese preferred to the original

Martin Scorsese, whose work on the likes of Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The Irishman among many more has led him to become one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, is first and foremost a keen film historian and student of cinema. 

“I prefer the escapism of fantasy, rather than the escapism of incredible sentimentality,” Scorsese once said regarding his storytelling ability. “What I’m afraid of is pandering to tastes that are superficial. There’s no depth anymore. What appears to be depth is often a facile character study… But they’re making a product, and a product’s gotta sell,” the director added.

Elaborating on the importance of cinema in the shaping of social perception, the director stated, “Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things…they take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime, we need to keep them alive”. 

As long as you don’t count 2010’s thriller Shutter Island, you can be sure to say that despite Martin Scorsese’s exploration of several genres, horror has always been an artform he has evaded, though, no doubt, appreciated. This has been illustrated by the director’s own list of his eleven favourite horror films, in which he details why Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Jack Clayton’s The Innocents and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining makes the list of his all-time favourites. “Kubrick made a majestically terrifying movie…where what you don’t see or comprehend shadows every move the characters make,” Scorsese commented on Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic, based on the novel by Steven King. 

One film, however, which doesn’t make it onto Scorsese’s list but is noted as a favourite, is the sequel to William Friedkin’s classic horror The Exorcist, titled Exorcist II: The Heretic. Widely regarded as a cinematic flop, John Boorman’s film, adapted from William Peter Blatty’s horror novel stars Linda Blair, Richard Burton and Max von Sydow and continues the story of young girl Regan MacNeil and the demon that still lurks within her. 

With a religious past, marked with tormenting Catholic guilt, Martin Scorsese makes a case for Boorman’s sequel, stating: “I like the first Exorcist, because of the Catholic guilt I have, and because it scared the hell out of me; but The Heretic surpasses it. Maybe Boorman failed to execute the material, but the movie still deserved better than it got”. 

Although the third film in the trilogy, The Exorcist III, often receives love from underground horror communities, it is rare for the widely disliked Exorcist II to take praise, particularly from the opinion of such an acclaimed director.

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