Wonderfull Lives: The Chillerpop Exorcist Retrospective, Part 3

Image result for Exorcist 3

Plot summary: “Lt. Kinderman and Father Dyer cheer each other up on the anniversary of the death of their mutual friend, Father Damien Karras, by going to see “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the local theater in Georgetown, near Washington D.C. But there’s no cheering Kinderman while a particularly cruel and gruesome serial killer is at large. His murders, which involve torture, decapitation and the desecration of religious icons, is bad enough; but they also resemble those of the Gemini Killer, who has been dead for fifteen years. (SOURCE: IMDB.COM andWritten by J. Spurlin)


In this Washington Post article, William Peter Blatty, director of “Exorcist III and author of the novel it’s based on, “Legion,” makes a few salient claims, one of which is that he “hates horror movies.”

That’s all well and good, but he directed two of the most curdling, shocking horror movie scenes I have ever seen in my life.

In the film’s opening scene , a Catholic confessional is used to stage a nightmarish murder.  One where you hear a croaking, teasing infantile voice chuckle as its owner is about to commit something unspeakable.  You only see the violent aftermath later, but that image pales in comparison to what comes before, where you see nothing but are left unnerved beyond belief.

I will let you witness the second scene here:

(source: Youtube)

In both novel and film, Blatty attempts to continue exploring issues of faith, evil and the existence of God by pitting its central characters against horror and despair.  “Exorcist III” is an excellent film and a worthy sequel to the original.  George C. Scott picks up where Lee J. Cobb left off, and does so admirably as the nosy, likable uber film-geek Lt. Kinderman, the detective who pestered actress Chris McNeill during one of the worst moments of her life.  Here we have glimpses into his family life, into his friendship with Father Dyer (the fellow priest and best friend of Damien Karras, last seen giving Karras Last Rites after his noble sacrifice to save Regan McNeill.)

Only now, Kinderman has a case that’s both impossible and disturbing – chasing down a serial killer patterning himself after the “Gemini Killer”, James Venamun. The Gemini Killer died 15 years ago.  And what does it all have to do with ‘Patient X’ in a mental health facility?

Listen, in “The Exorcist”, the trifecta of Linda Blair, Eileen Dietz and Mercedes McCambridge came together to disturb and frighten like nothing else can, and in “Exorcist 3”, Brad Dourif and Jason Miller (yes, ‘Patient X’ is none other than Fr. Damien Karras, possessed at the last minute of his life by the spirit of The Gemini Killer at the behest of his ‘patron’, which one can only surmise is Regan’s demon) come together to give nightmares new meaning.

Dourif may be best known for that lovable little staple of TV channel Halloween marathons, Chucky, but it is a shame he isn’t know for what I think is a powerful turn as James Venamun.

In the aforementioned WaPo article, Blatty also says:

“I have moved away from the belief in fallen angels to the belief that demons are, in fact, spirits of the dead who are behaving very, very badly. In fact, in all of the possession literature since the beginning of the 20th century, most cases involve the spirit of someone who has died.” 

And through Brad Dourif’s incredible performance, we see exactly this.

There are also Spider-Grannies, and Fabio and Michael Jordan as Angels, but that’s all to the good.  Far less to the good is the ending.

“Exorcist 3,” you see, was never meant to have ‘exorcist’ in the title. “Legion” never contained an exorcism.  But of course, Big Hollywood had to get involved and blather and bleat about the lack of an exorcism in a movie that’s a sequel to “The Exorcist”.  So they demanded and got a tacked-on, out of the blue exorcism scene that added absolutely nothing of value, just cheapo theatrics.

Morgan Creek has finally announced a ‘Director’s Cut’ DVD for release on October 25th.  I cannot wait to see it.

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