|The Exorcist III|
|Directed by||William Peter Blatty|
|Produced by||Carter DeHaven|
James G. Robinson
|Written by||William Peter Blatty|
|Starring||George C. Scott|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release date(s)||August 17, 1990|
|Running time||110 minutes|
|Gross Revenue||$39 million|
|“||As a movie writer-director, William Peter Blatty is like David's Lynch's good twin: he is eccentric, original, funny and daring, but he also has a sense of taste, pace, and restraint -- which is by way of saying that this is one of the shrewdest, wittiest, most intense and most satisfying horror movies ever made.||”|
Cast[edit | edit source]
- George C. Scott as William F. Kinderman
- Jason Miller as Damien Karras
- Ed Flanders as Father Dyer
- Brad Dourif as The Gemini Killer
- Grand L. Bush as Sgt. Atkins
- Scott Wilson as Dr. Temple
- Nancy Fisher as Nurse Allerton
- Barbara Baxley as Shirley
- Nicol Williamson as Father Morning
- George DiCenzo as Alan Stedman
- Don Gordon as Ryan
- Lee Richardson as Father Riley, the University President
- Mary Jackson as Mrs. Clelia
- Viveca Lindfors as Nurse X
- Ken Lerner as Dr. Freedman/Dr. Tench
- Tracy Thorne as Nurse Amy Keating
- Zohra Lampert as Mary Kinderman
- Sherrie Wills as Julie Kinderman
- Harry Carey, Jr. as Fr. Kanavan
- James Burgess as Thomas Kintry
Plot[edit | edit source]
The film begins with the point of view of someone wandering through the streets of Georgetown, a voice informing us "I have dreams... of a rose... and of falling down a long flight of stairs." The point of view shows a warning of evil about to arrive later that night at a church. Demonic growls are heard. Leaves and other street trash suddenly come flying into the church as a crucifix comes to life. It then cuts to Lieutenant William F. Kinderman at a crime scene, where a 12-year-old boy named Thomas Kintry has been murdered.
Kinderman takes his friend, a priest named Father Dyer, out to see their mutually favorite film It's a Wonderful Life. Kinderman later relates the gruesome details of the murder of the young boy he was investigating that morning, including his crucifixion. Another murder soon takes place—a priest is found decapitated in a church. Dyer is shortly hospitalized—and found murdered the next day—with the words "IT'S A WONDERFULL LIFE" [sic] written on a wall in Dyer's blood.
The fingerprints at the crime scenes do not match, indicating a different person was responsible for each. Kinderman tells hospital staff the reason for his unease: fifteen years ago the vicious serial killer James "The Gemini" Venamun, was executed; with every victim he cut off the right index finger and carved the Zodiac sign of Gemini into the palm of their left hand. Kinderman noticed the hands of the three new victims and verified that the Gemini's sign has been there. The Gemini Killer also always used an extra "L" in his notes sent to the media, such as "usefull" or "carefull". Furthermore, to filter out false confessions, the original Gemini Killer's true mutilations were kept a secret by the Richmond police's homicide department; the newspapers were made to wrongfully report that the left middle finger was severed and that the Gemini sign was carved on the back of the victim.
Kinderman visits the head of the psychiatric ward, Dr. Temple, who relates the history of a man in Cell 11, that he was found wandering aimlessly fifteen years ago with amnesia. The man was locked up, catatonic until recently when he became violent and claimed to be the Gemini Killer. Kinderman sees that the patient resembles his dead friend Father Damien Karras. The patient expresses ignorance of Father Karras, but boasts of killing Father Dyer.
The next morning, a nurse and Dr. Temple are found dead. Kinderman returns to see the patient in Cell 11, who claims that after his execution his soul entered Karras's dying body. The Gemini's spiritual "master", who had possessed the girl Regan MacNeil, was furious at being pushed out of the child's body and is exacting its revenge by putting the soul of the Gemini Killer into the body of Father Karras. Each evening, the soul of the Gemini leaves the body of Karras and possesses the elderly people with senile dementia elsewhere in the hospital and uses them to commit the murders. The Gemini Killer forced Dr. Temple to bring Kinderman to him or he would suffer in unspeakable ways — Temple couldn't take the pressure, and he committed suicide.
The Gemini possesses an old woman, who makes a failed attempt to murder Kinderman's daughter. The possessed patient attacks Kinderman, but the attack abruptly ends when a priest, Father Paul Morning (Nicol Williamson), enters the corridor leading to cell 11 and attempts an exorcism on the patient. The Gemini's "patron" intervenes, taking over the patient's body, and the priest is all but slain. Kinderman arrives in time and attempts to euthanize Karras after finding the body of the priest but is hurled into the wall by the possessed Karras. Father Morning manages to briefly regain consciousness and tells Karras, "Damien, fight him." Karras regains his free will briefly and cries to Kinderman, "Bill, now! Shoot now! Kill me now!" Kinderman fires his revolver several times, hitting Karras in the chest, fatally wounding him. The Gemini is now gone...and Karras is finally free. With weak breaths, he says "We won, Bill. Now free me." Kinderman puts his revolver against Karras' head—and fires.
The film ends with Kinderman standing over Karras' grave.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Critical response[edit | edit source]
The Exorcist III initially received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes has reported that 55% of critics gave the film positive write-ups based on 31 reviews, with a rating of 5.2/10. British film critic Mark Kermode called it "a restrained, haunting chiller which stimulates the adrenalin and intellect alike," and New York Times reviewer Vincent Canby said "The Exorcist III is a better and funnier (intentionally) movie than either of its predecessors". Critic Brian McKay of efilmcritic.com has remarked that the movie is "not quite as chilling as the first story" yet "is at least a quality sequel", being worth watching but suffering from many "uneven" aspects. People writer Ralph Novak began his review with, "As a movie writer-director, William Peter Blatty is like David's Lynch's good twin: he is eccentric, original, funny and daring, but he also has a sense of taste, pace, and restraint -- which is by way of saying that this is one of the shrewdest, wittiest, most intense and most satisfying horror movies ever made."
However, Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave a negative review. He wrote, "If Part II sequels are generally disappointing, Part IIIs are often much, much worse. It can seem as if nothing is going on in them except dim murmurings about the original movie — murmurings that mostly remind you of what isn't being delivered". He additionally labeled The Exorcist III "an ash-gray disaster [that] has the feel of a nightmare catechism lesson, or a horror movie made by a depressed monk." It was "Entertainment Weekly" that years later cited the film as the "#8 scariest movie ever made." In the British magazine Empire, film critic Kim Newman claimed that "The major fault in Exorcist III is the house-of-cards plot that is constantly collapsing." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called The Exorcist III "a handsome, classy art film" that "doesn't completely work but offers much more than countless, less ambitious films."
Box office[edit | edit source]
The Exorcist III opened in first place, earning $9,312,219 in its opening weekend. It grossed a total of $26,098,824 in North America and $39,024,251 worldwide. Blatty attributed its poor box office performance to the title imposed by Morgan Creek, having always intended for the film to retain the title of the novel. During development and production, the film went under various titles, including The Exorcist: 1990.
Morgan Creek and Fox insisted on including the word Exorcist in the title, which producer Carter DeHaven and Blatty protested against:
|“||“I begged them when they were considering titles not to name it Exorcist anything -- because Exorcist II was a disaster beyond imagination. You can’t call it Exorcist III, because people will shun the box office. But they went and named it Exorcist III. Then they called me after the third week when we were beginning to fade at the box office and they said ‘We’ll tell you the reason: it’s gonna hurt; you’re not gonna like this – the reason is Exorcist II.’ I couldn’t believe it! They had total amnesia about my warnings!”||”|
Accolades In 1991, the film won a Saturn Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, for Best Writing (William Peter Blatty) and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Brad Dourif) and Best Horror Film. George C. Scott was also nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor but lost to Andrew Dice Clay for The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.