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"The Last Exorcism 2" hits theaters next Friday and if you're like us, you're probably thinking one thing: How can a movie called "The Last Exorcism" have a sequel? It's like the Hollywood equivalent of having 14 "Final Fantasy" games.
But the answer is simple: Exorcisms never really seem to work in movies. For over four decades, film fans have been going to the cineplex for one horror movie after another and the one thing you can pretty much always count on is the fact that when it comes time to try and exorcise a demon from a human host, that attempt will fail and fail miserably.
So with that in mind, we thought we'd take a look at the long and embarrassing history of failed exorcisms in film. And if you ever find yourself sharing space with a demonic interloper, well, you might as well just get used to it. Because if these seven films are any indication, chances are you're going to be stuck with it for a long time:
(Beware, spoilers abound!)
'The Last Exorcism:' Of course, we just have to start with the movie that inspired our list. But we do give the movie some credit, because the entire premise is actually based on the fact that exorcisms never work. The main character is a Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), who specializes in exorcisms both "real" and fake. Which is well and good right up until a kid dies in an exorcism due to the fact that he was actually not possessed at all, but merely autistic. Seriously. Don't any of these priests ever read a medical journal once in a while?
'The Exorcist III:' The plot of the 1990 threequel to "The Exorcist" is a little too convoluted to explain here (not that we suggest actually watching it), but suffice it to say that it involves a whole heck of a lot of possession, mostly at the hands of the demon Pazuzu. Luckily, there are several priests on hand to perform exorcisms, and that never goes wrong. Except, of course, when Father Paul Morning (Nicol Williamson) attempts to exorcise the spirit of a serial killer from a possessed inmate in a mental institution. Pazuzu isn't down with that so he just totally mangles the priest instead. The good guys end up winning the old fashioned way: By shooting the possessed guy with a big ass gun. Hey, whatever works.
'The Rite:' In this 2011 gem, Sit Anthony Hopkins plays Father Lucas, a well known exorcist. He's kind of like the Justin Bieber of the exorcist crowd, he's that popular. So naturally, when a pregnant girl is apparently possessed, they send for good ol' Father Lucas to fix things. And he does just that, performing an exorcism on her. Problem solved! Or... actually, she ends up having a miscarriage and then dies. So that's bad. Also, as a result of the failed exorcism, the demon actually ends up possessing Father Lucas himself. Hey, when it rains, it pours.
'The Possession:' This one, from last year's Jewish-flavored exorcism flic, is a bit more complicated than the other films on our list. That's because the exorcism — which is performed by a Hasidic expert on the supernatural named Tzadok (played by rapper Matisyahu!) — actually seems to work, removing the evil dybbuk from the girl it has possessed. Just one little problem, though: The spirit ends up going back into the box it came from and just a couple minutes later, it totally kills Tzadok by causing a car accident. Whether or not you count this one as a victory, therefore, kind of depend on whether you're the girl or the dead guy.
'The Exorcism of Emily Rose:' Here's another exorcism that kinda seems to work, except for the part where it totally fails. In this 2005 horror film, Emily (Jennifer Carpenter) is a girl who is either both epileptic and psychotic or, you know, possessed by a six-pack of random demons. After a really creepy exorcism, the presiding priest decides that, yep, it's demons. And his exorcism goes really well, even getting all six demons to name themselves (the demons being Baal, Beelzebub, George, Paul, John and Ringo). Just when you think it's safe to go back in the monastery, though, Emily drops dead. The movie asks the question: Did a bogus exorcism kill a sick girl? Or did Satan simply chew her up and spit her out? We're going with the bogus exorcism theory.
'The Devil Inside:' Yet another exorcism film from last year (guess we know what those Mayans were really talking about), "The Devil Inside" doesn't waste any time getting to the botched exorcism part. You see, the main character is a gal named Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) who is investigating just why her mother murdered three people during an attempted exorcism back in the 80's. The answer, by now, is obvious: Because exorcisms never work, that's why.
'The Exorcist:' No list of botched exorcisms would be complete, of course, without the father of all exorcism films, "The Exorcist." Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, "The Exorcist" terrorized audiences back in 1973 with its story of a little girl (Linda Blair) who is possessed by the demon Pazuzu. It's kind of famous, you guys. But what might be less famous — and easy to forget — is the fact that the attempted exorcism in this movie is a complete faceplant. First, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) totally dies during the attempt. And that leaves Father Karras (Jason Miller) with the task of trying to perform the exorcism alone. The result? He gets possessed himself. Nice one. In fact, they only end up "winning" when Karras jumps out the window, killing himself. Guess they figured calling the movie "The Jumper" wouldn't be quite as evocative.