A police Lieutenant uncovers more than he bargained for as his investigation of a series of murders, which have all the hallmarks of the deceased Gemini serial killer, leads him to question the patients of a psychiatric ward.
William Peter Blatty's director's cut of "The Exorcist III" which was thought to be lost. Recovered and released in 2016 under its original title, this is the definitive cut of the film based on his novel "Legion".
Years before Father Lankester Merrin helped save Regan MacNeil's soul, he first encounters the demon Pazuzu in East Africa. This is the tale of Father Merrin's initial battle with Pazuzu and the rediscovery of his faith.
Lt. Kinderman and Father Dyer cheer each other up on the anniversary of the death of their mutual friend, Father Damien Karras, by going to see "It's a Wonderful Life" at the local theater in Georgetown, near Washington D.C. But there's no cheering Kinderman while a particularly cruel and gruesome serial killer is at large. His murders, which involve torture, decapitation and the desecration of religious icons, is bad enough; but they also resemble those of the Gemini Killer, who has been dead for fifteen years.Written by
While this film ignores the previous sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), it never actually outright contradicts it, despite William Peter Blatty's well-known dislike of the critically reviled sequel. In fact, the shots of the stairs where Karras died, are carefully framed so as not to show the MacNeil's former house, which was destroyed at the end of the previous film. See more »
The movie suggests that Kinderman and Father Karras/Patient X were longtime friends, but they only met once in the original film, and their meeting could hardly be called cordial. See more »
Father Paul Morning:
You robber of life! You author of pain! You corruptor of justice, and innocence, and youth!
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These are the differences between the Theatrical Cut of "The Exorcist III" and the Director's Cut recently recovered and released by Shout! Factory:
Director's Cut (D.C. from now on) begins with black-and-white images of Georgetown in 1975 and Father Karras' fall from the stairs in the original "The Exorcist". Cut to the scene of the wind in the church and the statue of Christ opening its eyes. The title "William Peter Blatty's Legion" appears while the camera walks the streets with the Gemini Killer voice-over. Only later we see the caption "Georgetown 1990" on takes of the canoeing team and the murder scene of the Kintry kid. Theatrical Cut (T.C. from now on) begins already in "Georgetown 1990": we see the canoeing team and then Father Dyer looking at the staircase where Karras fell in '75 (this scene appears later in D.C.). In his office, Kinderman looks at a photograph of him with Father Damien Karras (this scene is not in D.C., and Jason Miller appears as Karras). Only then we see the scene of the wind in the church and the POV in the streets. Cut to helicopters and the kid's crime scene.
In D.C., the scene with Kinderman discussing crime details at the police station begins with a prostitute being interrogated and cuts to the detective asking his colleagues about Macbeth. In T.C., we don't see the prostitute, but the scene begins a little earlier with Stedman walking into Kinderman's office while he complains to Ryan.
After the conversation at the police station, in D.C. we see Kinderman coming home and listening to the complaints of his mother-in-law talking to his wife in the kitchen, while he puts his revolver in a drawer before finding his family in the kitchen. T.C. begins with Kinderman already in the kitchen.
After seeing "It's a Wonderful Life" in a theater, Kinderman and Father Dyer have coffee in a restaurant. In D.C., the dialogue is longer and they comment on James Stewart's acting and the film "Eraserhead", while the camera shows a 1975 photo with Brad Dourif as Father Karras on one of the walls. The conversation continues with Kinderman joking with Father Dyer, and then they begin to talk about Karras. None of this is shown on T.C., which already begins with Kinderman questioning Father Dyer about God.
In D.C., the scene in which Kinderman talk to Father Dyer at his hospital bedroom is longer: a nurse comes in for blood tests and the priest informs her that a colleague of hers had done it 15 minutes earlier. The nurse leaves the room screaming and cursing. Later, Kinderman comments that anyone can steal drugs from a nurse's cart, and discuss details of Father Kanavan's murder. None of these scenes appear on T.C.
In T.C., when Dr. Temple takes Kinderman to the hospital's isolation ward, scenes with Patient X inside his cell shows Jason Miller as the patient. In D.C., we only see Brad Dourif as Patient X. Also, the scene inside the cell is completely different in both versions - brick walls in D.C., padded on T.C. In D.C., a take from inside the cell shows only Kinderman through the door window; in T.C., the same take shows Kinderman and Sergeant Atkins talking.
After Kinderman explains the Gemini Killer modus operandi and the fact that Father Dyer's middle name is Kevin, T.C. and D.C. use different takes of Patient X repeating the name "Kevin": Brad Dourif in D.C. and Jason Miller in T.C. Their cells are also different.
After Kinderman's conversation with Father Riley, the University President, about the relation of the victims to the exorcism of Regan MacNeil (in "The Exorcist"), T.C. brings an additional scene introducing the character of Father Morning (played by Nicol Williamson). He's in his room in the monastery and finds a dead bird in the window; then a crucifix hanging on the bedroom wall falls to the floor and begins to bleed. A strong wind begins and turns the pages of a Bible on the table. None of these scenes, nor Father Morning's character, appear in D.C.
In T.C., after Kinderman talks to Dr. Temple in his room, there is an abrupt cut in which we see the detective creeping out of Patient X's cell. The full scene appears in D.C.: we see Kinderman entering the cell and recognizing Patient X as Father Karras.
In T.C., after asking for the Patient X medical record, Kinderman begins to question Nurse Allerton. In D.C., the scene is a little longer: before talking to the nurse, the detective complains with Dr. Temple that the medical record is incomplete and doesn't provide information of the day that Patient X entered the hospital. The doctor then calls the nurse.
After Kinderman tells Atkins that he believes that Patient X is Damien Karras, T.C. and D.C. continue differently: in T.C., we see Kinderman entering the cell to interrogate Patient X; in D.C., Kinderman and Atkins observe the exhumation of Father Karras' grave, and the detective declares that the body in the coffin is not his. Some takes (mainly Kinderman and Atkins standing in front of the open grave) were used at the end of T.C.
The first conversation between Kinderman and Patient X is different in both versions: in T.C., the detective enters the padded cell and talks to Jason Miller and Brad Dourif at the same time (the face of the character changes throughout the scene); in D.C., he enters the cell with brick walls and talks only with Brad Dourif (the first version of the scenes with the actor, all of this had been re-shooted to T.C. because of the different set). The dialog has minor differences between the two versions.
After the conversation with Patient X, T.C. and D.C. continue in different ways. In T.C., there is a scene with the detective in a library picking up a book about rituals of exorcism. Cut to Father Morning praying in his church. In D.C., Kinderman and Father Riley are talking in the library about the exhumation of Father Karras' grave, and the detective finds out who's the corpse buried in the tomb of Karras (Brother Fain, a Jesuit who was tending Karras's body and who disappeared 15 years ago). Each of these scenes only appears in its respective cut.
After showing the detective reading the passage on Legion in the Bible, T.C. brings a short extra scene in which Kinderman opens the file on the Gemini Killer and looks to a photograph of Brad Dourif.
After Kinderman finds Dr. Temple body, T.C. and D.C. continue in different ways: in T.C., the detective enters the padded cell and talks to Brad Douri (scenes re-shooted for this version). In D.C., the conversation happens in the cell with brick walls. The dialogue is basically the same, but longer in D.C.
After Kinderman leaves Patient X's cell, in D.C. he makes a phone call and asks for Father Riley. In T.C., the scene was re-dubbed and he asks for Father Morning, in an attempt to create a link between the two characters (who never share the same scene until the end).
In the middle of the scene where the fake nurse (Nurse X) goes to Kinderman's house to kill his daughter, there are different takes of Patient X in trance in his cell: Brad Dourif in D.C. and Jason Miller in T.C. The cells are also different.
When the fake nurse collapses while attacking Kinderman in his house, in D.C. this happens because Father Karras' consciousness has taken control of Patient X. In T.C., fake nurse collapses screaming "Morning!", and then we see Father Morning entering Patient X's cell to perform the exorcism. None of this, nor the long scene of exorcism that follows (with fire, snakes and several special effects), nor the violent death of Father Morning, appears in D.C.
The final confrontation between Kinderman and Patient X is radically different in each version. In T.C., the detective enters the padded cell and finds remnants of the frustrated exorcism. With many special effects, we see Patient X immobilizing Kinderman on the wall and opening a hole in the ground, from which visions of hell come out - including the horrific image of the corpse of Kintry, the first victim of Gemini Killer in 1990. Father Morning, who's still alive, reaches for his crucifix and manages to awaken Karras consciousness in Patient X. Karras asks Kinderman to kill him before the Gemini Killer regains control of his body. The detective obeys and shoots the possessed friend several times (in a giant continuity error, Father Morning's body disappears from the floor of the cell). The film ends with scenes of the exhumation of Karras' grave as if it were his "new" burial. In D.C., all we see is Kinderman entering Patient X's cell and saying "Pray for me, Damien. You're free.", before firing several times at him. The last image before the final credits is the sunset.
With a title like 'Excorcist 3', one doesn't hope for much. But in fact, this film is really only so titled to exploit the value attached with the name, and although it was written (and also directed) by the writer of the original film, it's actually a stand-alone movie in it's own right. And while William Blatty may be hard pushed to rival the efforts of the original's director, William Friedkin, he doesn't do too bad a job: he's a little over-reliant on abrupt cutting to achieve his shocks, and the budget for the special effects was obviously inadequate, but this is a suspenseful and chilling thriller. All supernatural movies suffer from a degree of innate silliness, and satanic movies perhaps especially so, but this film is constructed as if it was a conventional serial killer thriller, albeit an exceptionally dark and creepy one. As the signs of actual devilry begin to increase, the detective leading the case (played brilliantly by George Scott) starts to wonder if he's going mad. Only when the film is forced, near its conclusion, to represent the nightmare literally, does it inevitably become a little daft (but that charge could even be levied at 'The Excorcist' itself). I'm not generally a huge fan of horror movies, but this one is definitely above average, for its skill in modulating the tension and in restraining from excess until its final scenes. In conclusion, ignore the title, and watch.
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