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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 10/31/00

Exorcist III
1990 (1999) - Warner Bros.

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Exorcist III Film Rating: C-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B+/D

Specs and Features

110 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (31 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: none, Closed Captioned

The Exorcist III picks up fifteen years after the original film ended. George C. Scott is Lieutenant Kinderman (played in the original by the late Lee J. Cobb). A series of murders has been committed, and the pattern rings a bell with him. They fit the calling of the Gemini Killer, who was presumably killed long ago. Kinderman's search eventually leads him to a hospital, where he finds a strange and unlikely correlation between the killer and Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller).

That's the set-up of the story. The story itself is strung together in such a lazy, haphazard fashion that it becomes tedious after the first half an hour or so. As the movie develops and Kinderman confronts the killer (played alternately by Miller and Brad Dourif), we are subjected to some really long and insufferable speeches by Dourif. The intent is to be unsettling, the outcome is unbearable. This is not one of George C. Scott's better performances though, to his credit, some of that fault goes to the writer/director William Peter Blatty. The connection between Karras and the Gemini Killer is so forced and convoluted that it makes no logical sense.

The Exorcist III wants so badly to be The Exorcist, that it is not above mimicking the highly influential original to grab the audience's attention. Jolting, disrupting noises happen spontaneously. People crawl around on the floor. Visions and dreams of people in or on their way to the afterlife clog the screen. Most of this was terrifying in the original because it hadn't been seen before then. Seeing those same things again now only seems cliched, derivative and uninspired. Blatty's spats with William Friedkin over the first Exorcist have been documented on film and in text, but still he refers to the first for inspiration. The original tested people's faith not only in religion, but in humankind as well. Sadly, after a very good start, the only thing this one ended up testing was my patience.

It's unfortunate that the movie itself is so bad, because quality-wise, it's a very good disc. The new anamorphic transfer is darn near perfect. Its only faults are some really minor edge enhancement in some scenes, and slight color bleed in others. Aside from that, this is a shining transfer. The print used for the DVD transfer is clean and free of defects. A lot of this film takes place in dark interiors or evening shots, and they look superb with dark, detailed blacks with little or no distracting grain. Color reproduction is accurate without ever looking too warm or subdued.

The new Dolby 5.1 mix is good, but is by no means thunderous. This isn't a really active sound field, but good, if sparse, use is made of the split surrounds. Bass levels are good, but just slightly shallow, and there's a nice balance between dialogue, effects and music tracks.

The only extra is the film's early theatrical trailer, promoting it as Exorcist III: Legion. It's a little scratchy looking, but Warner has included it with anamorphic enhancement. Too bad there isn't more. It seems like this movie is William Peter Blatty's creative revenge on William Friedkin, so a commentary by Blatty would have been nice.

Warner is finally putting a good amount of effort into their budget line, after a rocky start with cropped pan and scan transfers of great movies like Running on Empty. If you're a fan of this flick, the $15 price tag most retailers are putting on this title isn't bad at all. Occasionally scary, often times ludicrous, The Exorcist III is only for hard-core genre fans. Otherwise, it's maybe worth a rental. Or better yet, pick up the first film instead.

Dan Kelly
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