I have never seen any of the Exorcist sequels until now (I did see the awful prequel from a few years ago. Lets not talk about that.) What I had heard is that The Exorcist II is downright awful but the William Peter Blatty directed Exorcist III is a worthy successor to the "scariest film ever made." Well, I don't really agree with that. I didn't hate The Exorcist III, but I didn't think it was all that great either. Perhaps this is because I have never seen the stinker that is Exorcist II. Nearly every review I have read of Exorcist III mentions it as a "true" sequel, unlike Part II. So I will revisit this film after seeing Part II. Wonderful. I sometimes wonder what the people at Netflix must think of my queue. I wonder if they go in and read them and think: "My God-this person has no life AND the worst taste in movies".
The Exorcist III starts out well enough. The spooky music, the Georgetown setting, the stairs- the stairs are shown over and over again- I loved it. George C. Scott plays Lt. William F. Kinderman, the movie loving cop from the first film (replacing the deceased Lee J. Cobb.) Kinderman is still good friends with Father Dyer (Ed Flanders) and two get together every year to see a film on the anniversary of Father Damien's demise. The best part about this film is the relationship between these two very different men. It is the emotional center of the film.
A series of grisly, satanic murders is rocking Georgetown. Kinderman thinks it may be the work of the "Gemini Killer", a madman who was executed 15 years prior (around the same time as the events in the first film.) He has a hard time convincing anyone of this since the Gemini (played by the always awesome Brad Dourif) is clearly dead. The other problem is that according to the fingerprints, the murders are being done by different people. Sounds like a case of possession to me!
When the murderer begins to target Kinderman's family and friends, it becomes a race against time to uncover the mystery. At the local hospital Kinderman is introduced to "Patient X," an unknown man that has been locked in the psych ward for 15 years.
Does he look kind of familiar? It's Father Damien (Jason Miller!) At this point things get really crazy in this film, and I was as confused as George C. Scott looks throughout the entire thing. What begins as a pretty intriguing hunt for a serial killer turns into a strange possession/exorcism/body jumping finale that looks like it was thrown together at the last minute. The film just didn't feel right, despite some great performances and good scares.
Upon further research I found that the film I saw wasn't really William Peter Blatty's true vision. Morgan Creek Productions, the same company that fucked up Nightbreed, insisted that Blatty re shoot some of the film so that there was an actual exorcism in it. Blatty wanted to release the film as Legion, after his book, but Morgan Creek, looking to cash in, wanted it to feel more like a true sequel to The Exorcist. Hence, the return of Jason Miller, the inclusion of Father Morning, an exorcist that shows up and has nothing to do with the other events in the film, and the strange ending.
I would love to see Blatty's original film, but Morgan Creek claims that the original footage has been lost. Conspiracy!! The story behind the film was more interesting than the film itself!
What I really liked about the film was Blatty's little touches of weirdness throughout. From the witty and sometimes strange dialog to the bizarre visual touches, watching this film is a bit like an Easter egg hunt. If you watch it be on the lookout for Larry King, Samuel L. Jackson, and the Joker. Seriously, its weird. In a good way.