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Hidden Horror Classic: The Exorcist III

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Enthusiast and Writer

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What Is This?

This disturbing statue appears briefly in the shadows during The Exorcist III. The first time I saw this image in the film, it freaked me out! My first thought was “Why is there a statue of the Joker in this Catholic setting?” Actually, the statue depicts a Satanic Priest. This bizarrely iconic image and its dark implication exemplifies the dark tone and uneasy feeling that pervades this film.

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The Exorcist III: Legion

Written and directed by William Peter Blatty, creator of The Exorcist.

Underrated and not nearly as well-recognized as it should be, The Exorcist III stands as a worthy sequel to the original classic that rightfully ignores the previous one.

The Exorcist III is an example of how studio interference actually made a movie better. The director and writer, Blatty, submitted the film without the final Exorcism, which is now present and there were a number of scenes that were retooled for the final version. In having seen both versions, the theatrical release version surpasses the original cut in terms of the film‘s ultimate impact

The film stars George C. Scott as Detective Kinderman from the original; Jason Miller, who reprises his role as Damien Karras, and a young Brad Dourif in a stand-out performance, as the Gemini Killer. This time, it is Father Damien himself who suffers through possession and torture. The author of his pain is the Gemini killer and his demonic “friends” in this unsettling, dread-filled, nightmare of a film.



Dourif Demonizes Damian

“…the main thing is the torment of your friend Father Karras as he watches while I rip and cut and mutilate the innocent, his friends, and again, and again, on and on! He's inside with us! He'll never get away!”


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“I have dreams of a rose, and falling down a long flight of steps.”

There are mysterious, ritualistic murders being committed and Detective Kinderman leads the investigation. All evidence points to the methods of the Gemini Killer (modeled after the real-life Zodiac killer from San Francisco), who was executed 15 years ago. It was also 15 years ago, when the detective witnessed his friend, Father Karras, get tossed, or pushed, out of a window and fall down a flight of stairs to his death during a very famous exorcism.

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What an excellent day for an exorcism!

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“I believe in you!”

In Scott’s Kinderman, we see one of the finest, most nuanced performances from the actor in his storied career. Familial love, love for his friends, pain, sympathy, horror, amusement, rage and ferocity are all artfully portrayed.

Confrontation is what this film thrives on…confronting the past, confronting evil, and confronting one's own torment. George C. Scott slowly loses his grip on his investigation of a series of familiar murders. As his character suffers torment after torment and mystery compounded by impossibilities, Kinderman’s frustration constantly cracks through his police-procedural veneer. All signs point to a murdered friend and an executed killer from the past.

No Angels, No Wings

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“ I believe in slime and stink and every crawling, putrid thing... every possible ugliness and corruption, you son of a bitch!!”

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Maddening Implications

The horrors of this film are hinted at, suggested, and referred to, but never really witnessed on the screen. Every character is full of dread, and is idiosyncratic, seemingly, to the rest of the human race. Examples of this can be seen in the character of the Psychiatric doctor who is being manipulated by, presumably, a demon and the somewhat antagonist nurse who gives Scott some key information. The maniacal ravings of Dourif, the descriptions of the atrocities, the dreams of Patrick Ewing as the Angel of Death and Fabio (seriously), are the things of nightmares.

Death Angel

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“Thomas Kintry. Black boy, about 12 years old. The killer... drove an ingot into each of his eyes, then cut off his head. In place of his head was the head from a statue of Christ, all done up in blackface, like a minstrel show, you know, the eyes and the mouth painted white. Mr. Bones... The boy had been crucified... on a pair of rowing oars.”

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The moments of horror that are shown in this film are tight with suspense and terrifying. The rest, is left up to the imagination. Truly frightening.


Check it out on Amazon. Scary, creepy stuff for a dark, quiet night, that will stay with you well past Halloween.

© 2019 Maudo Rodriguez

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