Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, October 31, 2008

THE EXORCIST III


THE EXORCIST III (1990). Director: William Peter Blatty.

“[God] goes waltzing through the universe like some kind of cosmic Billie Burke” -- Detective William Kinderman.

Blatty adapted and directed his novel Legion for this second sequel to The Exorcist (although this wisely ignores the events of Exorcist II: The Heretic). Detective Kinderman (now played by George C. Scott) investigates a series of murders that have the same M.O. as atrocities committed by a fiendish serial killer, Gemini (Brad Dourif), who was executed the very night the girl Regan was exorcised. Kinderman ties these events to a mysterious patient in a psycho ward known only as “X” but who looks just like his old friend Father Damian (Jason Miller), who supposedly died fifteen years before on the night of the exorcism. The movie works up its own internal logic but seems to break it and become a little more confusing than it needs to be and there is too much gratuitous humor, but it has a good basic plot and is seriously disturbing at times. There's a long, creepy sequence in a hospital corridor that works up to a quick shock, and Viveca Lindfors figures in a near-climactic kitchen scene that involves a terrifyingly large surgical blade used for amputations. You have to see the old lady crawling across the ceiling to believe it (a wild sequence, but one better left on the cutting room floor?) George C. Scott is as ferociously good as ever as Kinderman, although he might have registered more upsetment at his friend, Father Dyer's, bizarre murder. Ed Flanders is on-the-money as Dyer, and there's excellent support as well from Nicol Williamson (an exorcist), Lee Richardson (university president), Brad Dourif, and Nancy Fish as a very saucy, borderline bitchy nurse. Although she is uncredited, the demon seems to be voiced by Colleen Dewhurst. Dopey Fabio shows up in a purgatory dream sequence. The obligatory exorcism scene is fairly exciting. It's interesting to contemplate what Hitchcock would have done with this material.

Verdict: The movie has its moments but the book is better. **1/2.

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