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1989 film directed by William Peter Blatty

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Blatty should do this more often.

  • Jul 26, 2012
*** out of ****

Let's get something straight. This is not really "The Exorcist III". It may don the name, but only because the studio intended for it to be a commercial effort. It is a continuation of the events that closed William Friedkin's screen adaptation of "The Exorcist", which was based on a novel written by William Peter Blatty - who wrote and directed this film. It picks up after Father Karras (Jason Miller) jumped out the window of the MacNeil house in Georgetown, Washington and rolled down that famous flight of stairs to his death, with the demon Pazuzu still possessing his body and soul. But "The Exorcist III" does not involve Pazuzu at all. In fact, its demons consist of mortals and immortals; things both real and paranormal. It's an ambitious mixture, yes, but surprisingly enough it actually ends up working and makes the material more than just another cheap "sequel", which - more or less - it kind of is and kind of isn't.

The story follows a series of bizarre murders - mostly decapitations - that occur fifteen years after "The Exorcist". The MacNeils don't live here (in this universe) anymore. The first murder is of a teenage black kid, and the crime scene is being investigated primarily by Lieutenant William Kinderman (George C. Scott); who always gets depressed on the anniversary of Karras's death. This explains why he and his priest friend Father Dyer (Ed Flanders) attend a screening of their favorite movie - the cheerful "It's a Wonderful Life" - on that day. Soon afterwards Father Dyer is mysteriously hospitalized and then murdered in cold blood. There was another murder before this; that of, yes, another priest - this time one who gets a direct visit from a supposedly sinful old woman who mutters strange and disturbing things under her breath hoping that the priest will hear her out.

The fingerprints left at each of the murders are that of a different person; so there is more than one killer. Kinderman somehow relates the murders to those committed by a man known as the Gemini Killer some time ago; although the man had since been sent to the electric chair. Nevertheless, the head of a local psychiatric ward sees some resemblance between this Gemini fellow and a guy in Cell 11 that has been locked up, merely existing in this secluded little room, for fifteen straight years. When Kinderman visits the patient, he first resembles Karras; but he then reveals himself to be something far more sinister and diabolical. He claims that he is the Gemini Killer (Brad Dourif), and he is quite possibly just a demon capable of possessing multiple bodies to commit the murders, if he is in fact the perpetrator.

Blatty's last job behind the camera was as the writer and director of "The Ninth Configuration", an adaptation of a novel he wrote, but that was about ten years prior to "The Exorcist III". He hasn't gone on to direct anything else since, although I can't see why. He doesn't seem to resent the experience of making the film, and he's apparently happy with the final product even if the studio restrained him just a bit and forced him to include an exorcism scene last minute. What more could you ask for? Blatty demonstrates every basic quality of a talented genre filmmaker; and some of the best scenes here rival the atmosphere of the first "Exorcist", which is my favorite horror film, although clearly not Blatty's. My biggest gripe is that it's got a great hour and thirty five minutes, and then the last fifteen are fairly silly in comparison. This is the final fifteen where Blatty brings out the big guns; although the guns don't come with dramatic gunpowder but rather lots and lots of special effects, all of which have dated by now. But Friedkin's first film is no different; yet still better. But why compare?

It's a strange film full of strange - but bewildering and beautiful - images and memorable situations. And it's an absolute blast to watch. It's a shame that the footage from Blatty's alleged "Director's Cut" is now lost forever (well, as far as we know); but the version that remains is good enough as it is. By mixing a crime drama with a horror film (filled with genuine scares and chills, no less); Blatty's made a film that is both messy and fascinating. Not to mention intelligent and thoroughly thought-provoking. Dourif's performance is probably one of the most criminally underrated in horror history and his scenes are unmistakably some of the most compelling. This is the kind of movie where the unhinged zaniness of Dourif feels right at home; this is an explosively imaginative picture that possesses the senses for a good hour and fifty minutes, which is about as much as one can take at once in the case of "The Exorcist III". It doesn't overstay its welcome and I can definitely dig that.

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review by . August 13, 2009
Exorcist III was the follow up to the classic Exorcist. Despite the number three next to the title, this was the true sequel to the first film. Writer/ Director William Peter Blatty wanted to simply call the movie "Legion" like the name of his novel. But the producers wanted to cash in on the Exorcist name so he caved into pressure. In Europe it's called Legion: Exorcist III. This wasn't going to be the first or the last conflict Blatty would have with the producers. The novel was a straight …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
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It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


The third film in The Exorcist series.

Based upon the novel Legion.

The Exorcist III is a 1990 horror movie written and directed by William Peter Blatty, and starring George C. Scott, Nicol Williamson, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif and Jason Miller. It was the first Exorcist film in the series produced by Morgan Creek, and the only Exorcist film distributed by 20th Century Fox instead of Warner Bros.

The film is based on Blatty's novel Legion, the sequel to his original novel The Exorcist. The story takes place in Georgetown, fifteen years after the events of The Exorcist (although it makes no reference to the events of Exorcist II: The Heretic) in which a young girl named Regan MacNeil was possessed by a demon.

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Genre: Horror
Release Date: August 17, 1990
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: William Peter Blatty
Runtime: 110 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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