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.
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.
I kept waiting for whatever it was that made me love this so much 20 something years ago... All I found was the affected weirdness of some high school drama club and an overly literal messianic treatment of issues of faith and redemption. Certainly it must've made waves in the mainstream for its genre-meld and overwrought whimsy... Not much in it for me today. 2.5
3.5. A real oddity, compelling for its bizarre tone & interest in theological/moral dilemmas, even though I feel it's ultimately undone by a weak resolution. Almost Tarkovskyish in places & overall a very intriguing piece of writing (& acting & directing) with moments of great depth. Plus a Pierre Teilhard de Chardin reference, bikers used for parabolic purposes, & Jason Miller attempting to stage Hamlet w/ dogs.