A movie that, for its entire running time, stands at the precipice of disaster - using an American Gothic asylum and repressed memory as a modern allegory for Christian sacrifice & lost faith, with a fair interjection of laugh-out-loud humor, whiplash dialogue and biker drag. Blatty not only makes it work - but makes it a deeply moving, visionary experience. Hidden here is one of the best Christian films ever made.
Blatty will always be best known for writing 'The Exorcist' but this is his far more ambitious project. The film is a flawed but fascinating work that touches on the meaning of faith, psychosis and sacrifice in its tale of a makeshift madhouse. The lead turns by Keach and Wilson are quite good as is supporting turns by Ed Flanders and Neville Brand. Chock full of quotable dialogue and a barroom brawl for the ages.
What starts off like "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" if it had been directed by Guy Maddin, morphs into a "Catch-22"-esque tragi-comedy, before a bleak but redemptive and transcendent final third, A serious study of faith in a seemingly insane and godless age, it is a more mature film than the head-spinning antics of "The Exorcist" -and I feel it's a better one, too.
An utterly bizarre film with so much to say. Bursting with fantastic images and ideas. It's a clear influence on a certain Scorcese film but to say which one would give away something in the film. Particularly great is Jason Miller, who played Father Karras in The Exorcist. Thematically an infinitely better follow up to The Exorcist than the infamous sequel The Heretic.
I was going to wonder how this ever got made, but you could practically hear the pitch meeting--combine M*A*S*H with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by the writer of The Exorcist and voila! Plus, with B-list actors and only one setting, it’s easy to see how costs were low. Incredibly, the script won a Golden Globe. It’s over-the-top lunacy, but accidentally or not, it does raise some profound philosophical questions.
I think in many ways Blatty's homage to 60's Italian Gothic horror ala Mario Bava - just look at the castle, the camera angles and zooms. But also the real sequel to The Exorcist - the existence of God and why he allows these terrible things to happen. Once again Blatty questions and the responding silence is deafening.