The Exorcist III (Director's Cut)
The Exorcist III AKA Legion (Director's Cut)
1990. Directed by William Peter Blatty.
Based on his novel, Legion, William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist III is a masterpiece in horror that was unfairly titled and criminally hack sawed in order to fit into a Hollywood glass slipper. After years of painful restoration, Scream Factory has released an outstanding director's cut, which finally bring's Blatty's intended vision to the screen.
Fifteen years have passed since Father Damian Karras fell to his death on the infamous Georgetown steps. Detective Kinderman, still haunted by the events surrounding Reagan MacNeil's possession, is currently hunting a serial killer who decapitates his victims. When his best friend, Father Dyer becomes the latest casualty, Kinderman begins to suspect that the supernatural may once again be at work, as strange events begin to coincide with the awakening of an impossibly familiar psychiatric patient in cell number eleven of the local hospital's psych ward...
Blatty's script is packed with memorable dialogue and disturbing lamentations on faith and purpose. As in The Exorcist, the two constant themes of movies having magical qualities and Catholic priests being normal, flawed human beings, are the arteries that wind throughout the twisty narrative. George C. Scott stars as Kinderman and his dynamic chemistry with Ed Flanders as Dyer is heartwarming and organic, making the stakes real and intense, allowing the viewer to form an allegiance with the protagonists that persists until the soul crushing final frame.
Brad Dourif's performance as the Gemini Killer a quiet master stroke. The way he takes Blatty's script and delves into the subtle insidiousness is heart stopping. Every single one of his scenes with Scott is the essence of psychological horror, with each participant fencing with their opponent, parrying questions with questions and striking with answers that have multiple interpretations. The restraint is what pushes this film over the top. We all know what's at work, but everyone, villain included, refuses to directly acknowledge the metaphysical evil that has come to roost.
Gerry Fisher's cinematography is chameleon like, moving with alacrity when required, and slowing down to a crawl during Kinderman's surreal dream walk through Heaven. The terror sequences are framed with understated odd angles, a whisper to the German expressionism that Blatty build's his haunted kingdom atop. The lack of special effects is one of the best surprises. Everything, for the most part, is implied, including the legendary jump scare scene, that when seen in stunning high definition will have the viewer inspecting the paint on their ceiling.
Dana Lyman's costume design, particularly in the Heaven sequence is breath taking. Taking a cue from Marcel's Camus's Black Orpheus, Kinderman's subconscious definition of the beyond is a strange and wondrous Bohemian soiree, where darkness is held at bay by quizzical celestials and resurrected murder victims. The angelic wings and throat stitched corpses meld into a chorus whose anthem is broken promises and corrupted dreams, presenting Heaven as a flawed paradise.
Scream Factory's monumental restorative efforts bear recognition. Tirelessly compiling every available piece from the editing room floor, and then filling the gaps with spliced footage from VHS copies and the theatrical release, the director's cut is nothing short of an unholy miracle. This is a landmark horror film, directed by a passionate writer who wanted to finish his story. Through his perseverance, unbelievable work by Scream Factory, and some extremely underrated craftsmanship, The Exorcist III is one of the best horror films ever made.
Highly. Highly. Recommend.