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This review is for the original theatrical cut.

Third film in this series is written and directed by original film/book writer William Peter Blatty after being passed on by both The Exorcist director William Friedkin and then John Carpenter. This film is based on Blatty’s book Legion and follows Detective William Kinderman (George C. Scott) who is investigating a series of murders he reluctantly starts to believe are being committed by a serial killer who has been dead for seventeen years. The trail, however leads to Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller), a good friend of Lt. Kinderman who himself died while performing an exorcism around the same time the Gemini Killer (Brad Dourif) met his demise. As Kinderman delves deeper in this mystery, his beliefs are shaken as he may indeed be facing a sinister force with a horrifying agenda.

Blatty’s only other directorial effort is the bizarre 1980 The Ninth Configuration and his minimal experience does show at times with some of the pacing and scene staging being a bit off at points during the film. He also does manage, though, some very spooky and disturbing sequences, especially during the film’s creepy second half. It’s a vast improvement over John Boorman’s 1977 Exorcist II: The Heretic, which is generally regarded as an epic fail and the idea of a demon using a serial killer’s soul to exact revenge on the priest who once evicted it, is chillingly original. Blatty’s initial exorcism-less cut was met with poor test screenings forcing the studio to ask him to add an exorcism to the proceedings and the sequence’s exorcist Father Morning (Nicol Williamson) was also added to the film. After a bit of a slow build, Blatty’s thriller starts to really click in the second half and we get the spooky and sometimes outright disturbing flick we came to see, whether it was the studio mandated changes or not.

What really makes this work, too, is George C. Scott’s giving his all in a portrayal of a policeman finding out that there are indeed things that go bump in the night and the closer he gets to the truth, the more bump they go and the more bodies fall. A veteran actor, Scott always treated every film with the same respect and the Oscar nominated actor…he actually won for Patton, but refused the award…plays the material straight and with intensity. Brad Dourif is absolutely chilling as the Gemini Killer, whose spirit taunts Kinderman while inhabiting Father Karras’ body and as Karras, a returning Jason Miller gives us a tortured soul forced to co-inhabit a body with a man who is everything the priest stands against. Nicol Williamson is also good in his post-production added role as exorcist Father Morning and the rest of the supporting cast, including odd cameos from Fabio and Patrick Ewing as angels, also add solid support.

The Exorcist is a horror masterpiece and making one sequel was a risk that backfired badly. Blatty originally wanted this third film titled Legion, much like the book it’s based on and there was no exorcism in the original cut. The studio demanded it be more directly linked to the classic film by titling it The Exorcist III and then after audiences didn’t get what they came for, had the filmmaker/writer add one to the story. It still works despite studio tinkering and a director who was a bit of a novice taking the reigns. It’s not perfect, but is still, at times, a spooky and chilling film with some top notch performances.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 nasty murder weapons.





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vatican tapes



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Yet another exorcism horror that tells the story of Angela Holmes (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension‘s Olivia Taylor Dudley) one of the demonic cases being investigated by the Vatican. Angela was doing a blog article on the biblical story of the Antichrist and soon started to exhibit disturbing behavior. Convinced there is something demonic involved, a local priest, Father Lozano (Michael Peña) contacts his superiors at the Vatican to join the fight against what might possibly be the Antichrist itself.

On the positive side, director Mark Neveldine (The Crank flicks) does give this horror some atmosphere from Christopher Borrelli and Chris Morgan’s story and script, but the film is so cliché and gets so overblown by it’s last act, that he accomplishes little with it. We get every exorcism scenario in the book from dive bombing black birds, to the demonic voices speaking in another language, to contorting limbs from our victim. The film delivers nothing new nor uses the familiar tropes in a fresh or interesting way, so the film fails to get our attention. When it is revealed in the last act that Angela is the embodiment of the Antichrist itself, it just feels overblown and silly. The exorcism attempt by Lozano and Vatican Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) is tired and by the numbers and our open ending implying apocalyptic doom just makes us roll our eyes instead of hide them behind our fingers. It’s all been done before and quite a lot recently, so it is just routine and un-involving. The film lacks any of the energy of Neveldine’s Crank movies and it could have used some to wake us and the tired story up.

The cast is actually pretty good. Leading lady Olivia Taylor Dudley tries hard to look and act possessed and evil and if she were in a better film with better dialog we might have appreciated her efforts more. Peña is likable and solid as Father Lozano, but it is a cliché role as is Andersson’s Cardinal Bruun. Dijmon Hounsou appears briefly as a very concerned high level Vatican official and is also solid in a small role. Dougray Scott is a bit overbearing as Angela’s military dad, but that basically is the character. Rounding out is John Patrick Amedori as Angela’s boyfriend and Kathleen Robertson as Angela’s psychiatrist, while she is locked up for her increasingly violent behavior. Both their roles are fairly stereotypical.

Not much to recommend here. The film is of a subject that has become very routine in horror recently and done in a way that doesn’t freshen it up or make it interesting. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and tells a story oft told and told better. It has a good cast and a little atmosphere, but it’s not enough to recommend one sit through it.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 cliché black birds.
vatican tapes rating