Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 10/31/00
1990 (1999) - Warner Bros.
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
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
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
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.