Blu-ray Review: THE EXORCIST III

The new The Exorcist III Blu-ray from Scream Factory showcases a gorgeous picture and provides both the theatrical and director's cuts.

Associate Editor; New England
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Blu-ray Review: THE EXORCIST III

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. 

Bonus Features

DISC ONE: The Exorcist III (Theatrical Cut)

  • NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive
  • Vintage Featurette
  • Deleted Scene/Alternate Takes/Bloopers
  • Deleted Prologue
  • Vintage Interviews (Featuring Behind-The-Scenes Footage) With Writer/Director William Peter Blatty, George C. Scott, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Grand L. Bush, Executive Producer James G. Robinson, Production Designer Leslie Dilley, Larry King And C. Everett Koop
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Photo Galleries

DISC TWO: Legion (Original Director's Cut) 105 minutes

  • NEW Audio Interview With Writer/Director William Peter Blatty
  • NEW A "Wonderfull" Time – Interviews With Producer Carter DeHaven, Actors Clifford David And Tracy Thorne And Production Assistant Kara Reidy
  • NEW Signs Of The Gemini – An Interview With Brad Dourif
  • NEW The Devil In The Details – Interview With Production Designer Leslie Dilley, Assistant Designer Daren Dochterman And Illustrator Simon Murton
  • NEW Music For A Padded Cell – An Interview With Composer Barry DeVorzon
  • NEW All This Bleeding – A Look At The Re-shoot And Makeup Effects With Production Manager Ronald Colby, Editor Todd Ramsay, Effects Artists William Forsche, Mike Smithson, Brian Wade And Actor/Body Double Charles Powell

Check out the trailer below --- and learn more about this fine blu-ray release here.

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Brad DourifEXORCIST IIIGeorge C. ScottScream FactoryWilliam Peter Blatty
One-EyeOctober 27, 2016 10:16 PM

With the two features Blatty directed he proved he had an uncanny ability with creating atmosphere.

It's a shame he never directed more.

Ben de KlosOctober 28, 2016 2:25 AM

I really hoped there'd be more details about the director's cut and the differences with the theatrical cut.

How many minutes? What scenes? Is it just the ending or is it cut quite differently overall? Etc etc.

Creature_of_the_NightOctober 28, 2016 11:09 AM

Brad Douriff is AMAZING in this movie - it is an acting clinic he puts on.

This movie is so underrated.

The pacing and atmosphere is amazing - this hearkens back to when movies were movies, and took you some place.

Notice how slow this and the original Exorcist are in spots, but still totally entertaining while BEING slow. Like the original Alien directed by Scott. I love movies like that.

So sick of CGI and explosions and video game-style frenetic movies today.

ManateeAdvocateOctober 28, 2016 3:17 PM

Agreed. The Ninth Configuration is an amazing film.

ManateeAdvocateOctober 28, 2016 3:17 PM

Woefully underrated.

wabaliciousOctober 30, 2016 8:08 AM

Great film, loved it.

kidlazarusOctober 30, 2016 2:13 PM

Both versions run about the same. 110 (theatrical) to 105 minutes (director's cut). The ending of the director's cut is more blunt. There is no exorcism, simply Kinderman and Patient X and a cut to the sun after the gunshots.

The director's cut doesn't show Father Karras (Jason Miller). So, all of the scenes with Patient X are Brad Dourif. Which, in a way, loses impact when Kinderman sees Patient X. After all the Gemini is using Father Karras as a vessel. The Kinderman-Patient X scenes are extended. There's a bit with Dourif recounting the train station nightmare Kinderman which has new dialogue.

Some other differences involve longer scenes adding more detail regarding the original Gemini case. Sergeant Atkins (Grand L. Bush) seems to have more of an active role in the investigation of the current Gemini cases and he is with Kinderman in a scene involving the exhumation of Father Karras.

I'm sure in due time there will be better information involving the 2 edits on http://www.theninthconfigurati... and other sites.

kidlazarusOctober 30, 2016 3:23 PM

Great book, too, if you haven't already read it.

Jay PowellMay 8, 2017 9:08 PM

So what's the difference between this release and the one that came out a couple of years ago? The one with the original poster on the Blu-ray box? Is it a better scan of the movie?