William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist III” proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that even if a film series is destroyed by a bad sequel, it can bounce if the follow up is bold and creative enough. While “The Exorcist II” took a dump all over the original movie from Friedkin, “The Exorcist III” manages to quite brilliantly carve out its own unnerving horror story, while also expanding on the mythology of pazusu, and the possession of Regan McNeil. It also helps to confirm the idea of total evil that is never quite resolved, which only contributes to the film’s inherent sense of unease.
For years Police Lieutenant Kinderman has been haunted by the death of his friend Father Damien Karras. Now, on the 15th anniversary of the exorcism that claimed Karras’ life, Kinderman’s world is once again shattered when a boy is found decapitated and savagely crucified. It’s just the beginning of a nightmare series of bizarre religious murders. The brutal murders bear the hallmarks of the infamous Gemini Killer who died in the electric chair fifteen years ago. But when a psychopath claiming to be the Gemini Killer reveals intimate, gruesome details that only the true killer could possibly know, Kinderman is confronted with a new nightmare he thought ended years ago.
Although imperfect with both cuts, “The Exorcist III” manages to thrive as an eerie and spooky horror tale about the reverberating echo of evil and how it can influence its descendants. While Blatty experienced no end of studio tinkering with his film, “The Exorcist III” is a very good branch off from the original and even compliments it in a big way. While Linda Blair does not return for this second outing, her presence as Regan is very much felt in the way that evil tends to corrupt the innocent and leave a lasting stain. Father Karras’ invocation feels like a perverse retaliation from the demon that confronts George C. Scott’s character Kinderman much in the vein of Karras and his mother.
When we see Kinderman, he’s still coping with the death of Karras, and he arises in the climax to battle Kinderman not just for his soul, but for evil’s dominance. Brad Dourif is absolutely mesmerizing in the role as the Gemini Killer, and director Blatty allows him to shine with some of the best moments in the film, barnone. There is even, of course, the iconic, brilliantly timed jump scare in the hospital involving the true vicious nature of the Gemini Killer and an unfortunate night nurse. Blatty, to his credit, crafts a pretty memorable, albeit flawed epilogue to “The Exorcist.” Although the finale involving the exorcism is unfortunately tacked on, the movie manages to flourish as a radical and unnerving horror tale about the power of pure evil.
The new 2 Disc Edition from Scream Factory comes packed with the original theatrical cut of “Exorcist III” and the Director’s Cut of the film re-titled “Legion.” Fans will love the difference in both cuts, allowing them to compare and contrast visions. Disc 1 comes with a seven minutes Vintage Featurette which is a basic press kit/making of featuring narration with on set footage with interviews from Blatty and Scott. There are photo galleries, Behind the scenes photo galleries, Posters & Lobby Cards Photo Galleries, Still Galleries, Trailers including a teaser with “Legion” as the title of the film, and TV Spots. There are five minutes of Deleted Scene, Alternate Takes and Bloopers including a creepy “Happy Birthday” scene, an alternative scene for the confessional kill, and some alternate angles on the big jump scare moment, and bloopers.
There’s also the inclusion of the Deleted prologue, as well as thirty eight minutes of Vintage Interviews with segments including Blatty, George C Scott, Ed Flanders, Grand L Bush, Jason Miller producer James Robinson, and Larry King et al. Disc 2 includes an Audio Interview with Director/Writer William Peter Blatty which is basically a film commentary that plays over the film. Blatty discusses myriad topics including faith, the books, and the original film. Death, Be Not Proud: The Making of “The Exorcist III” is a great 5-part making of documentary from Red Shirt pictures. A “Wonderfull” Time is a twenty four minutes discussion with folks like production designers, producers, Brad Dourif and other actors (Tracy Thorne, Clifford David), discussing The Exorcist, their thoughts on The Heretic, and working on the film.
Signs of the Gemini is a seventeen minutes interview with Brad Dourif on his role in the film, who goes over a bit of his process, the reshoots and his disappointment at how the original cut of the film was snubbed. The Devil in the Details is an eighteen minutes discussion with the production designers and those who helped bring the film’s look to life. They go over their experiences with their personal work on the film, including visual effects shots. Music For a Padded Cell is a fifteen minutes interview with the film’s composer Barry DeVorzon. He speaks of Blatty trying to give him the opportunity to score the original Exorcist but being shot down by Friedkin. Finally, All This Bleeding is a twenty eight minutes discussion with everyone involved with the reshoots of the ending, including Jason Miller’s body double, the editor and second unit production tell the story of the studio demanding this change and what it was like to shoot it.