Directed by: William Peter Blatty (The Ninth Configuration)
Starring: George C. Scott, Brad Dourif, Ed Flanders, Jason Miller, Scott Wilson, Nicol Williamson
I’ve always had some issues with William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973). Maybe if I’d seen it without reading William Peter Blatty’s book things would have been different. It’s not that I care whether it followed the book — it mostly does anyway — it’s that I had to stop reading the book at one point because it was freaking me out (hey, I was 19). The movie had no such effect. I’ve grown to like the film better — especially in its final incarnation from 2000 when scenes that expanded on Blatty’s themes were put back into it. But it still doesn’t really scare me. On the other hand, John Boorman’s frequently brilliant Exorcist II: The Heretic was never intended to scare. It was much more closely related to Blatty’s mystical Catholicism (even though Blatty was not involved). But for me, the perfect Exorcist film is Blatty’s own The Exorcist III (1990), which he adapted from his novel Legion. Here we have Blatty’s themes — and his gift for clever, funny dialogue — and a true sense of horror and growing dread on an even footing, resulting in a movie that’s both scary and profound. It’s high on the roster of great modern horror pictures.
Here is a link to my original review
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Exorcist III Thursday, Sept. 19, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
In Brief: Exorcist author William Peter Blatty brought his own Exorcist sequel novel Legion to the screen in 1990 as The Exorcist III. (Since its story follows an entirely different tangent, it doesn’t have to consider Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) in its plotting.) For my money, the result is the scariest, best-acted and certainly most literate film in the series. There is scarcely a wrong move in the film — including the studio-mandated big exorcism ending — and Blatty’s direction is phenomenal. (He may have, in fact, created the best shock-effect ever in this movie.) You might not buy into the story five minutes after the movie, but while it’s onscreen — well, that’s another matter.