The new The Exorcist III Blu-ray from Scream Factory showcases a gorgeous picture and provides both the theatrical and director's cuts.
Out this week from Scream Factory, comes The Exorcist III. It's a brand-new 2K scan and the release I received, The Collector's Edition, provided both the theatrical and director's cuts. What's interesting with the latter is that it contains footage of Brad Dourif thought lost to time. Jason Miller, the original Father Damien Karras, was brought in to replace Dourif. (Miller is credited as "Patient X" here.) Sadly, Miller was not up to the challenge of filling Karras' shoes completely, and Dourif remained in the film. That means that both actors fill the same space and inhabit the same human and/or character in The Exorcist III. You'll recognize this as the theatrical cut, which was put together after a disastrous test screening of the movie, with Blatty infamously unwilling to compromise on anything.
Here's the story, which pretends that The Exorcist II never happened. (Don't we all?) Elderly police lieutenant Kinderman (George C. Scott) has that one case that's always bothered him: the Gemini Killer. Unfortunately, very similar killings begin to suddenly occur --- horrific mutilations religious in nature. A little boy tortured and crucified and a priest killed in a confession booth are two that get Kinderman's attention. The issue is, the Gemini Killer was executed via electric chair 15 years earlier, and there's a patient (Dourif) claiming to be him.
The Exorcist III is a bizarre film. While that's stating the obvious, this slow-burn sequel from author and filmmaker William Peter Blatty does have some issues. This is likely an unpopular opinion, as so many love this film. However, the pacing is odd at times, and there's an inordinate amount of shouting from main characters and supporting players alike. And these lines aren't just being delivered loudly, but shouted as forcefully as possible from the actors, often in an otherwise quiet scene. I'm having trouble recalling any other films that do this, and I'm coming up blank. (Let me know in the comments if you think of any.)
Of course, this strange direction of the film's actor's comes on behalf of Blatty, who is far more known for this novels and screenplays. The Ninth Configuration is the only other film he's directed.
Once again, Scream Factory doesn't skimp on the extras. Getting to see the director's cut alone is pretty cool, even if it's intercut with poor-quality 4:3 dailies. We still get to see Brad Dourif acting his ass off in a straight jacket. I wouldn't advise watching this cut more than once, however. The theatrical cut is far superior, with a complete finale that... is quite theatrical in the other sense of the word.
In any case, the theatrical cut looks amazing, and the extras are cool, particularly the new interviews on disc two. Dourif's interview is particularly illuminating as he recalls his experiences working on the film. I also enjoy listening to producer Carter DeHaven and the interviews with the special effects crew.
Fans of The Exorcist III will find a lot to love in this release; no doubt it will be an essential purchase.
DISC ONE: The Exorcist III (Theatrical Cut)
DISC TWO: Legion (Original Director's Cut) 105 minutes
Check out the trailer below --- and learn more about this fine blu-ray release here.