Legion: An Exorcist 3 retospective

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By now you will have probably noticed my approach to blogging, if the idea enters my head and i feel strongly enough about the subject matter, that’s probably what I’m going to be writing about in the near future. So, when i heard about U.S bluray distributors ‘The Scream Factory’ were putting together a directors cut of The Exorcist 3, the film was in my sights for a write up.

Firstly, I love this film, i never subscribed to the negative press the film received pretty much in the same way i never did with Alien 3, but that’s another blog entry altogether.

Written & directed by William Peter Blatty, the author of the orignal novel ‘The Exorcist’ and the novel ‘Legion’ on which this film is based and was originally intended to be titled until the studio intervened it wasn’t commercial enough. It wisely ignores the event of The Exorcist 2: The Heretic and instead picks up the story of the original some 15 years after Father Damien Karras  took a nasty tumble down some stairs. We quickly reacquaint ourselves with Detective Kinnerman, this time wonderfully portrayed by the great George C Scott, still haunted by the death of his friend that strange night and by the ongoing spate of grisly murders being perpetuated by a supposed copycat of the deceased ‘Gemini Killer’. Add to this the fading health of Father Dyer, another refugee of that unsettling state of affairs in Georgetown and a man in a church run mental institution who claims to be The Gemini Killer yet resembles the presumed dead Father Karras, you have the set up for a great follow on story, until a studio gets involved.

The cast of The Exorcist 3 can not be faulted, George C Scott, excellent as usual. The ever amazing Brad Dourif chewing the scenery with loon eyed gusto. Ed Flanders delivering a brilliantly realised ‘old married couple’ back and forth with Scott, even the returning Jason Millar as Karras delivers a great turn, So why the box office mauling?

Morgan Creek productions decided to make a number of changes to Blatty’s script during principal photography to make the whole affair much more “commercially viable”. Firstly the changing of the films name to include the all important ‘Exorcist’ title. as if movie goers are too stupid to read up on what they are going to see, add to this the insisted inclusion of an exorcism scene that was not part of the original shooting script, an intervention even the cast did not understand or welcome and you have a decent film that is suddenly disjointed.

This is not a bad film, not in the slightest. It is measured, chilling in places, restrained in its approach until the obvious influence of the studio in the closing section. It contains some genuinely wonderful cinematic moments, the dreamy afterlife sequence for example, the unsettling “It’s a wonderful life” moment, the face to face between Scott and serial scene stealer Dourif and arguably one of the most effective and unexpected jump scares you could ever hope to find on film.

If you havent seen any of The Exorcist sequels, you can skip The Heretic, it is awful, a truly awful, cynical piece of crap. However, do not turn down the chance to see The Exorcist 3, it is most definitely worth your time. I myself am very much looking forward to the release of this directors cut and to finally experience this great film as its creator intended.

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