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          A woman crawls by unnoticed - on the ceiling like a fly. A long-dead killer claims victim after victim. Flames erupt, snakes slither, the ground opens and reveals a writhing pit of the damned. The evil is back.

"I have dreams... of a rose, and then of falling down a long flight of steps."
             - Patient X

          It took me a long time to get around to watching Exorcist III, and who could blame anyone for that. As a rule, sequels are not only inferior to the originals but oftentimes just plain bad, especially by the time we get around to a third film. There are exceptions, however, and Exorcist III comes fairly close to the mark.
          The plot is based on William Peter Blatty's novel Legion, which was a semi-sequel to The Exorcist. Those expecting a retread of the first film will mostly be disappointed, since the story is actually about the investigation of serial murders in Georgetown. Additionally, the story benefits by not following the characters of Chris & Regan MacNeil, instead developing the characters of Lt. Kinderman and Father Dyer. Jason Miller also returns as Father Karras...well, sort of.
          Once again I'm inclined to grieve over what could have been instead of what was actually created. For one, I was bothered by the replacement of Lee J. Cobb with George C. Scott. Likewise, Ed Flanders replaces Rev. William O'Malley as Father Dyer. Jason Miller as Karras is the only familiar face in the trio of returning characters, which is ironic since Father Karras is the last character you'd expect to see pop up in an Exorcist sequel (since he pretty much died at the end of the original story).
          The film also suffers from dialogue that I found to be confusing and pretentious. The characters do not often interact with one another in any manner that reflects real life, and several dream sequences come off as laughable. What's worse, the conclusion has very clearly been tampered with. It appears that the producers decided that you couldn't have a movie called Exorcist III without an exorcism in it, so the character of Father Morning seems to have been added in post-production.
          And yet, Exorcist III remains effective in spite of its flaws. William Peter Blatty does a great job in creating a series of visual references that come together as the plot concludes, giving us a series of bizarre events and behaviors that are later validated and explained. Brad Dourif delivers a multifaceted performance in what could have been an embarrassingly stilted role as the spiritual entity, managing to be both amusing and scary (sometimes within the same sentence). Jason Miller's role is mostly thankless, but he does get to do some real acting that echoes his brilliant performance in the first film.
          The cinematography is also excellent, including one sequence that is played out in a long, nearly unbroken shot with the camera mostly stationary. The effect is startling, although the use of a shameless musical "stinger" on the soundtrack has a lot to do with the jolt.
          If Blatty had been able to iron out the rough edges, this would have definitely been on par with the original. As it stands, it's an unsettling film with a great sense of atmosphere and an intriguing plot, which is pretty admirable considering the producers decided to play this up as an Exorcist sequel. It could stand on its own quite nicely without these elements.

Cast & Crew   |   Pictures  |   Coroner Report
Video Clip   |   Trailer

          - Brad Dourif plays a character in jail. Asked how he is able to get in and out of jail without being seen, he replies: "It's child's play". Dourif plays the voice of Chucky in Child's Play, Child's Play 2, Child's Play 3, Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky.

          - Inspired by the murders of real-life serial killer "The Zodiac."

          - The University President claims that his favorite movie is The Fly. Lee Richardson, the actor who plays him, starred in The Fly II.

          - William Peter Blatty wanted the film to be titled simply "Legion", just like his novel of the same name. Even though Blatty opposed, the title was changed to "The Exorcist III."

          - In the initial stages of the film, Jason Miller was not cast. In fact, scenes of Father Karras' death were shot using Brad Dourif. One scene in particular had George C. Scott examining Dourif' (Karras') body on an operating table after the priest's death. No movement, however there is a sound from an EKG in the room. The sound suggested some sort of brain activity... Jason Miller was cast because the producers decided that, after showing the film to test audiences, a member of the original cast of The Exorcist should appear in the film. When this decision was made, William Peter Blatty rewrote parts of the script, particularly those involving the Gemini Killer. The result is the schizophrenic conflict between the Gemini Killer and Father Karras (Dourif and Miller respectively) that exists in the film.

          - William Peter Blatty himself offered directorial responsibilities to John Carpenter; Carpenter however, turned him down, and Blatty himself helmed the project.

          - William Peter Blatty made the film based on his novel "Legion" which was published on August 1st, 1983. He was extremely reluctant to sell the movie rights after the sequel but eventually decided to step up to the directors chair himself. The company decided to call it "The Exorcist III" even though the screenplay and novel featured no exorcisms whatsoever. When the company realized this as the film was going into shooting, they demanded an exorcism scene be written and added into the film.

          - According to an A&E Biography on Jeffery Dahmer, the one victim who survived and escaped a "meeting" with Jeffery makes a confession in court stating that Jeffery Dahmer put on a tape of The Exorcist III, and told the young man - Tracy Edwards - to watch it with him. Dahmer claimed that it was his favorite movie.  (Thanks Inferrell for the info.)




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