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
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
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
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
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