The Exorcist III Reviews
The fact that the murder victims now, a 12 years-old boy and two Catholic priests, were killed exactly the same way as those victims of the "Gemini Killer" were back then. The method of his savage actions was never reviled to the newspapers and the public yet these killings could not have possibly been done by him since the "Gemini Killer" was executed back in 1973, or was he?
Worthy follow-up to the original movie "The Exorcist" if you throw out the awful "The Exorcist Part II: The Heretic" made some thirteen years earlier. William Peter Blatty's "Exorcist III" starts where "The Exorcist" left off when the heroic Father Karras, Jason Miller,fell down a long flight of stairs outside the MacNeil residents taking the demon who was in possession of young Regan MacNeil's body with him to his death. At that very moment the convicted "Gemini Killer" James Venamun, "Brad Dourif" was executed for his crimes. The Devil took advantage of this moment in time by transferring the soul of Venamun into the dead Father Karras' body and at the same time bring Karras back to life. Wondering around the streets of Georgetown the now unrecognizable and comatose Father Karras was taken into a local mental institution where he spent the last fifteen years, strapped down in a padded cell, and known to those in charge only as patient X.
As time went by Karras' mental facilities slowly came back to him and with Venamun in control of his body and, this is hard to take, soul has been using the mental patients to do his bloody work. Manipulating their, crippled and very impressionable, minds the patients go out in the neighborhood as well as in the hospital and commit this latest string of "Gemini " killings.
"Exorcist III" has a lot of dream-like and surrealistic scenes in it which at times confuses you. As it moves to it final conclusion, in the graphic battle between "Good" and "Evil", it becomes very clear to what it's been telling you for the first 90 minutes or so. "The Devil" through the helpless Father Karras, whom he brought back from the dead, is waging his war against "Good" with one of those saintly men who stood fought and died for it.
George C. Scott gives his usual top-rate performance as the troubled and gilt-ridden, he felt that he should have saved Father Karras back in 1973, police Lt. Kinderman. At first Lt. Kinderman didn't really understand what he was up against, the Devil. When he finally did, at the end of the movie, he not only cast the Devil's demons out of the tragic priest but put Karras tortured soul to rest and peace forever, in a truly shocking and memorable final sequence.
Both Brad Dourif & Jason Miller were just as good as Scott as the "Gemini Killer" James Venamun and Father Karras who both occupied the same, Karras', body. Like in a titanic tug of war Venamun and Father Karras were in conflict with each other throughout the entire movie. Until the evil, that was engineered by the Devil, on the people of Georgetown and the Catholic Church was finally put to an end.
This is a film that I wish we could get a director's cut. They're was a different opening and ending along with other scenes taken out by the studio. It seems this footage is lost now but hopefully it will surface one day.
Every good creation has 3 sides The Exorcist 3 doesnt count!
"The Heretic" seemed to be a fluffier answer to something as audacious as "The Exorcist", but relative lightheartedness hardly ended with this film's predecessor, with this film suffering from tonal unevenness that perhaps would have been more all over the place if William Peter Blatty, as director, wasn't more realized in his atmospheric effectiveness, yet nonetheless has a tendency to undercut tension with too much fluff, much of which doesn't even hit home by its own right, at least not in way it wants to. There are some unintentionally amusing cheesy moments in this film, which is certainly not as cheesy as the still decent "The Heretic", but distances you with a touch too much fluffiness at times, and further distances with yet more incoherency, this time in pacing. As good as "The Exorcist" is, it gets to be a little slow, and what helped greatly in getting "The Heretic" by as decent was entertainment value, in spite of some slow spells, so with the first two installments, alone, this series seemed like it was steadily getting less slow, and sure enough, this installment is hardly dry, but pacing problems that atmospheric cold spells could have stressed still stand, with the biggest pacing issue being the usual one: dragging, achieved through repetitiously meandering material, if not filler, that drags the narrative just about into aimlessness. The limited focus of this meandering thriller creates some pretty questionable pacing problems, and some rushes over characterization don't exactly help, so pacing seems to be enough to overwhelm the film with underwhelmingness, and yet, just for good measure, the film is sure to meander down a familiar path. I don't necessarily mean that this story is familiar in the way many might think, because in a lot of ways, this is barely an "Exorcist" film, yet Blatty makes it up to horror fans by hitting plenty of conventions from other thrillers, so much so that predictability eventually forms, reflecting a certain laziness, which is ironic, considering that shortcomings are made all the more glaring by palpable ambition. Blatty wants to really hit with this film, and I can't blame him, because this is a promising project, and one whose execution works in a lot of ways, but sadly can't overcome its own demons enough to fall short as a formulaic and uneven thriller. That being said, this is still a more worthy follow-up to "The Exorcist" than "The Heretic", and like I've been saying, I didn't even mind "The Heretic", so sure enough, this isn't too shabby of a thriller, not is it too shabby of an idea.
Like I said earlier, this film strays quite a ways away from the subject matter of William Peter Blatty's strong story concept for "The Exorcist", and it's a little too conformist to conventions of other thriller mythologies, but the concept behind this particular film is perhaps stronger than the final product itself, because as a mystery thriller, this effort has some thoroughly intriguing elements, flavored up by dramatic depth, and as a supernatural thriller, many elements added especially for this adaptation of "Legion" feel kind of forced, but come with their own intriguing ambiguities that all but haunt, at least on paper. Like I said, this film stands to be stronger, but the final product isn't so messy that you can't see the potential within this subject matter, which is considerable, and often done a fair deal of justice, even by something as light-seeming as style. Now, when I say that style seems light as a compliment to this thriller's effectiveness, I don't simply mean that stylistic effectiveness is limited, I mean that style isn't that strong in this effort, which still has certain aesthetic highlights worth appreciating, whether when we're talking about an atmospheric score by Barry Devorzon, or talking about Gerry Fisher's sometimes hauntingly sparse cinematography, whose tastefulness helps draw you in, but not as much as the person in charge of orchestrating style, as well as substance. William Peter Blatty, as director, hits enough missteps for his promising project to ultimately come out as underwhelming, but his strengths as storyteller cannot be denied, as the film is not only stylish, but has a certain meditative atmosphere to it that rarely dries up so much that blandness really kicks in amidst pacing problems, and bites pretty firmly when material kicks in, drawing tension in form of anything from intrigue to genuine chills. Whether it be some particularly intense scenes of danger, or particularly strong scenes in which George C. Scott's Lt. William F. Kinderman character confronts a lunatic who claims to be the fictitious, dangerous and supposedly deceased Gemini Killer in isolation, there are highlights here and there throughout this film that Blatty nails, and while such moments aren't nearly consistent enough to craft a rewarding final product, the inspiration that Blatty pumps into this film, at least director, is endearing, and carries the film a good ways, especially with a strong cast at his back. The unevenly used Brad Dourif steals the show in his startlingly effective portrayal of a profoundly disturbed murderer, but most everyone is commendable, and that particularly goes for leading man George C. Scott, who, make no mistake, was given a Razzie nod simply because of the Razzie's morbid sense of humor about classic talents in not-so classic follow-ups to classics, for although acting material is limited for Scott, his thorough charisma and potent dramatic layers as a man of the law whose exploration of a darkly mysterious case will leave him to face evils beyond human belief is very strong, and carries much of the film's weight. The film is about as well-acted as any "Exorcist" film, including the very well-acted first installment that we all know and respect, and while a strong lead, backed by strong supporting players, isn't going to be enough to carry the final product as downright rewarding, there's enough done right on and off of the screen for the final product to compel just fine, regardless of shortcomings.
Bottom line, unevenness in tone and pacing behind a story that is too formulaic for its own good, and told with too much ambition for its own good, leave the final product to fall short of rewarding, but there's still enough potential to this story concept, tastefulness to musical and visual style, effectiveness within William Peter Blatty's atmospheric direction, and strength within the acting - particularly by show-stealer Brad Dourif and show-carrier George C. Scott - for "The Exorcist III" to stand as a flawed, but often effective and ultimately adequately worthy installment in Blatty's classic saga.
2.75/5 - Decent
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.