The Exorcist III Collector’s Edition Blu-ray
Director: William Peter Blatty
Screenwriter: William Peter Blatty
Cast: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Jason Miller, Scott Wilson, Nicol Williamson, Brad Dourif
Distributor: Scream Factory
Rated R | 110 Minutes
Release Date: October 25, 2016
“I have dreams of a rose, and falling down a long flight of stairs.”
Written and directed by William Peter Blatty (The Ninth Configuration), The Exorcist III is the latest cult curiosity to receive a two-disc Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory. Released in 1990, the film is based on Blatty’s 1983 novel Legion, which picks up several years later. The “true sequel” to William Friedkin’s 1973 film, The Exorcist III ignores the events of Exorcist II: The Heretic completely, despite its sequential title – the film was originally titled Legion, but was changed by studio executives to make the movie more commercially appealing.
For the past 15 years, Police Lieutenant Kinderman (George C. Scott) has been haunted by the violent, inexplicable death of Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller). Now, on the 15th anniversary of the exorcism that claimed the priest’s life, Kinderman’s faith in humanity is challenged once again when a boy is found decapitated and crucified. The brutal murder bears the hallmarks of the infamous Gemini Killer (Brad Dourif of Child’s Play), who died in the electric chair years ago. To filter out false confessions, the gruesome details of the Gemini murders were kept secret by the police, but when a psychiatric patient with a familiar face reveals intimate details that only the true Gemini could know, Kinderman is faced with another mystifying case that will shake him to his core.
The Exorcist III feels familiar and altogether different, combining elements of horror, a detective story, and a theological thriller. It isn’t entirely successful, the re-casting of Kinderman (played by Lee J. Cobb in the original) and Father Dyer (originally played by William O’Malley, replaced by Ed Flanders) is jarring, and while the performances are solid, it’s hard to accept that Scott’s Kinderman is the same man at the end of Friedkin’s film, or that he was close friends with Miller’s Damien Karras – there’s really no evidence of that in the original movie. Speaking of Miller, the Academy Award-nominated actor’s inclusion was the result of the studio’s insistence that the film include an appearance of Karras and an effects-laden exorcism sequence. Script changes, reshoots, and studio tampering hurt Blatty’s film, but it isn’t all mediocre. There are some potent moments of dread, including the hallway corridor scene, one of the greatest jump scares you’ll find.
The Exorcist III Collector’s Edition features a new 2K transfer from the inter-positive, and over four hours of special features. The main selling point, however, is the first-ever home entertainment release of William Peter Blatty’s director’s cut, a brand-new alternate version of the film that reflects the filmmaker’s original vision of his novel, Legion. The Legion cut is fascinating, but more of an experiment than a satisfying experience. The most notable difference is the confrontation between Kinderman and Patient X. The director’s cut features more of Dourif’s performance, with just a touch of Jason Miller. Dourif’s performance is off-the-charts creepy here, and it’s a shame that the film’s producers insisted that The Exorcist III needed more Miller, because it’s easy to see how Dourif could have received an Oscar nomination for his chilling and captivating turn.
In partnership with Morgan Creek Productions, Scream Factory conducted an exhaustive search through film assets from the original shoot to re-create Blatty’s intended vision. Unfortunately, the raw footage was lost to time. Like their Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut release, Scream Factory turned to VHS tapes of the film’s dailies to assemble the director’s cut, resulting in a composite of varying footage quality from the best available sources. The jumps in quality and aspect ratio may be too jarring for some to follow as a singular narrative, but for those who have heard of the fabled alternate cut, Scream Factory’s release will no doubt satisfy their curiosity.
Overall, Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of The Exorcist III is another must-own for fans of forgotten genre films that deserve a second look. The new 2K transfer of the theatrical cut is gorgeous, and there’s a ton of great special features that get to the bottom of what went wrong with the film’s production, which you can read more about below!
Highlights from the two-disc set include a new audio commentary with Blatty, and new interviews with producer Carter DeHaven, actors Clifford David, Tracy Thorne, and Brad Dourif, production assistant Kara Reidy, production designer Leslie Dilley, assistant designer Daren Dochterman, illustrator Simon Murton, and composer Barry DeVorzon. There’s also a great featurette titled All This Bleeding, which is a look at the re-shoot and makeup effects with production manager Ronald Colby, editor Todd Ramsay, effects artists William Forsche, Mike Smithson, Brian Wade, and actor Charles Powell.
Scream Factory’s The Exorcist III (Collector’s Edition) is now available at Amazon. Check out a trailer, clip, and the cover art here below.