The Film (5/5)
The Exorcist III is one of the those rare sequels (like Troll II) that seems to do just about everything right. The first Exorcist film is an icon of the horror genre, and is such a part of genre history that no one will ever be able to knock it from its plateau as one of the genre's finest films. However, in the many attempts to make a sequel to the film only the Exorcist III has come close to matching the first film in quality, and to do so it had to go in it's own distinct direction.
The Exorcist III uses the first film as a sort of springboard for it's narrative. The film takes place 15 years after the events of the first film. I hate to have to be an advocate for different continuities here, but the film follows the events of the final scene of The Exorcist director's cut (that was released 8 years after Exorcist III). Lt. Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb in the original, George C. Scott here) and Father Dyer (Ed Flanders replacing William O'Malley). meet up to help boost each other up on the date of the late Father Karras' death.
They have been doing this every year since the events of original film transpired and have built a friendship up. Unfortunately, after their meeting (over a screening of the classic It's a Wondeful Life). Kinderman has to get back to work tracking down a killer that appears to use a similar style to the dead Gemini Killer. The Gemini Killer, we find out was put to death on the same night Regan McNeil was exorcised. Kinderman must work to put together the events of the night of the exorcism, and the rash of killings with a patient in a local mental ward that might tie in all together.
The Exorcist II: Heretic was rushed after the success of the first film. The narrative of the film lacked any sort of sense at the time, and it ended up going down as one of the worst sequels of all time. Exorcist III came about in the early 1990's and was based on a spinoff novel about Lt. Kinderman called Legion. The film did not have so much to do with exorcisms and was more a supernatural detective romp. The final film for the most part reflects this change. This in large part is one of the reasons for its success. It did not try to be an Exorcist film, and by separating itself from a film that had by this point been ripped off, and spoofed to the point where any horror in it would have been gone it managed to scary all over again.
Unfortunately, at the time it was little seen. On top of that studio Morgan Creek did make director Blatty incorporate an exorcism into the film so that it would tie into the original film in a much stronger manner. As it turns out now having watched Blatty's DC (included on the disc) this actually makes the film work quite a bit better. The film is actually a chilling experience, that ties well into the mythology set forth by the first will while working well as a standalone experience.
Scream Factory have done simply amazing work with the Exorcist III. The film is a 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer made from the films IP. Detail here is excellent throughout, textures really stand out nicely, colors are well reproduced, and blacks are nice and deep. I did not find anything to really complain about.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English. The track is also quite solid with dialogue, score, and ambient effects coming through nicely.
The main extra in the set is on the second disc, and that is an assembled version of Legion, Blatty's original version of the film. Most of the footage is from the restored film on Disc 1, but includes scenes from Blatty's VHS tape. It is definitely interesting, but not in the way I hoped, and the film definitely feels tighter in it's theatrical edit. The first disc includes vintage featurettes, galleries, trailers, deleted, and alternate scenes, and more. The second disc includes a commentary with Blatty over the dc, and an extended making of documentary that is absolutely fascination, and should please any fan of the film.
The Exorcist III is one of the great sequels, and Scream Factory has finally done the film justice on home video. The Blu-ray transfer looks and sound amazing, and having a copy of the DC even with VHS footage for the missing scenes is such an exciting extra. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.