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.
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
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.
A multilayered film about faith, religion, redemption, sacrifice, insanity, and so many other things - it's quite surprising that all this works together and the overall impression is strong, so is the cast supported by a moody location. In some aspects the film has not aged well, on the other hand the film is a statement of its day. For some reason MUBI decided to serve us the awful TV version, 4:3 aspect ratio...
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.