The Exorcist III

Critics Consensus

The Exorcist III is a talky, literary sequel with some scary moments that rival anything from the original.

56%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 39

55%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 33,995
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The Exorcist III Photos

Movie Info

The second sequel to the landmark 1973 horror film The Exorcist, this horror outing has little to do with the previous two. This time, the story centers on a police detective who for the past 15 years has been obsessed with solving a series of murders that occurred on the night of the first exorcism. These murders were exceptionally brutal and seemed to be the work of a serial killer who was executed in a prison that very night. A pair of priests assist with the gumshoe's investigation.

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Cast

George C. Scott
as Kinderman
Ed Flanders
as Father Dyer
Brad Dourif
as Gemini Killer
Jason Miller
as Patient X
Nicol Williamson
as Fr. Morning
Scott Wilson
as Dr. Temple
Nancy Fish
as Nurse Allerton
Don Gordon
as Sgt. Ryan
Lee Richardson
as University President
Grand L. Bush
as Sgt. Atkins
Mary Jackson
as Mrs. Clelia
Ken Lerner
as Dr. Freedman
Tracy Thorne
as Nurse Keating
Zohra Lampert
as Mary Kinderman
Harry Carey Jr.
as Fr. Kanavan
Sherrie Wills
as Julie Kinderman
Edward Lynch
as Patient A
Cilfford David
as Dr. Bruno
Lois Foraker
as Nurse Merrin
Tyra Ferrell
as Nurse Blaine
James Burgess
as Thomas Kintry
Kevin Corrigan
as Altar Boy
Peggy Alston
as Mrs. Kintry
Fr. John Durkin
as Elderly Jesuit
Bobby Deren
as Nurse Bierce
Alexis Chieffet
as Counter Attendant
Debra Port
as Waitress
Walt MacPherson
as Police Sergeant
David Dwyer
as 2nd Police Officer
Daniel Epper
as Police Driver
William Preston Robertson
as Old Man in Wheelchair
Chuck Kinlaw
as Attendant
Nina Hansen
as Little Old Lady
John A. Coe
as Old Man in Dream
Samuel L. Jackson
as Dream Blind Man
Jan Smook
as Radio Man
Amelia Campbell
as Young Girl in Dream
Larry King
as Himself
Patrick Ewing
as Angel of Death
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Critic Reviews for The Exorcist III

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (4)

  • Against his will, Blatty added the sound-and-fury finale, and it's easily the weakest aspect of his movie. But that's mainly because everything that comes before it is so hauntingly understated.

    Oct 8, 2018 | Full Review…

    A.A. Dowd

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • It would be downright incomprehensible, in fact, if Dourif didn't do such a dandy job in explaining things in a couple of long, madman monologs.

    Jul 6, 2010 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • It is unsparing when it comes to gruesome descriptions and ominous characters, but it's got more giggles than goose bumps. "The Exorcist III" isn't about to scare anybody.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • May not have the visceral impact of the first film, but it gives viewers far more than they had any reason to expect.

    Oct 8, 2018 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Blatty is interested in the words most of all: the dialectic of intellectual debate, the ritual litany of naming, the recitation of prayers. To name something is to tame it; Blatty is interested in our eternal struggle with the unnamable.

    Oct 8, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Too much of the movie takes place in dark rooms where people describe horrors that might more profitably have been on the screen, and the plot is a house of cards that constantly collapses.

    Oct 8, 2018 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Exorcist III

  • Jan 10, 2016
    Underrated and probably the best of the trilogy. This movie has, hands-down, some of the most effective and memorable horror sequences ever committed to film. Like the original film it's pretty nasty considering how seriously it takes itself, but at least the storyline is certainly more engaging.
    Super Reviewer
  • Oct 24, 2013
    I don't really know how effective these exorcisms are, because it doesn't seem like there is any getting rid of Pazuzu, or Pizzaria, or Leaning Tower of Pisa, or whatever, or at least that's our situation here, because he certainly isn't bothering Linda Blair anymore. Yeah, this isn't really all that much of an "Exorcist" film, so much so that it was supposed to be titled "Legion", but they had to change it for marketability's reason, you know, "seeing as how George C. Scott isn't going to be enough to sell a movie". I express sarcasm and all, but apparently neither Scott nor the title change could quite get this commercially promising project to make it to the $40 million mark, so it's a good thing that they saved money by having this be something of a passion project for William Peter Blatty. That's right, horror hooligans, this film is written and directed by none other than the author of the original novel "The Exorcist"...- oh, and, uh, "Legion", the book upon which this film is based, just in case you care at all. Apparently the other people behind this film didn't figure that you cared, because, again, they went so far as to change the title "Legion" to "The Exorcist III", and even incorporate exorcism plot elements that weren't even in the book... "which isn't to say that the name of Blatty, a very under-experienced filmmaker, was some other kind of a marketing scheme at all". It's hard to convey sarcasm in text form, especially when the sarcasm is ironically disingenuous, because it does feel like Blatty has his heart in this, it's just that the final product isn't quite what folks were expecting... "seeing as how 'Exorcism II: The Heretic' raised such a high standard for sequels of 'The Exorcist'". Yeah, shut up, I liked "The Heretic" just fine, but if we can put that and sarcasm aside, this film is decent and all, but its marketing is hardly its most questionable attribute. "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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 25, 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.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 09, 2010
    The Exorcist III should have been called by its original title, Legion. But due to marketing issues, the studio felt that it would succeed more under an Exorcist moniker. Well let me just say it's far superior to the heretic and is far more creepy and intriguing than the previous film. The cast does a fairly decent job, and the film is filled with tense moments of creepy atmosphere and suspenseful scenes. A solidly paced and directed horror film, Exorcist III is a different take on the story, but it does succeed on creating effective terror and jolts. Although not as memorable as the original masterpiece, Exorcist III is still a necessary film to watch. What's great about the film is that it still manages at delivering good scares, but unlike the original, it doesn't have the intensity that you'd want from a film like The original, but compared to the second one, this third entry is an improvement. There's plenty of good elements to deliver an effective horror film here, but in the end I felt it also was a good stand alone film as well, not a film that necessarily needed The Exorcist title on the cover. The film is very entertaining for what it is, and though is not as horrifying as the original film, it still has enough good horror bits to really make it an interesting, and scary horror film to watch. If you loved the original, was disappointed by the second; then check this one out, the film is worth your time, and will give you a few good jolts in the process.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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