HMM Day 25 – The Exorcist III

A stressed out police Lt. Kinderman begins investigating killings taking place that are very similar to a group of murders executed by the infamous “Gemini killer.” What would be a normal investigation turns out to be a nightmarish trial of both faith and sanity for Lt. Kinderman.

The Exorcist III

The Exorcist III is a 1990 horror film directed by William Peter Blatty and serves as a direct sequel to the 1973 Academy Award winning The Exorcist. It stars legendary George C. Scott as Lt. Kinderman, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif and Jason Miller.

While 1973’s The Exorcist may serve as the scariest horror film ever made, The Exorcist III may be the greatest sequel to any horror film ever made. Now, when I say “best” it is very likely that this would raise many eyebrows of other fellow horror fanatics. It’s a strong and challenging statement to make when thinking of other sequels like Hellraiser’s first sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser Two. With that in mind I do challenge people to watch this movie.

Unlike its predecessor where we’re caught up in a more exaggerated setting where we have a girl back walking down steps and puking up bile, Exorcist 3 is a well executed movie made for passion and realism. It may not be as scary as the first film and is much more of slow burn style film, the terror lies within the build up and ever present nail biting tension. The movie is presented in a more clinical manner than the first film. The walls don’t peel and the gore is limited but damn does this movie have superior acting chops.

The mere fact that I mention George C. Scott should let people know what you’re getting with this movie. The man was master deliverer of character and skill. Scott is known for his other popular portrayals of George S. Patton and Ebenezer Scrooge but Lt. Kinderman might be one of my most favorite of his roles. He is a grouchy man that automatically comes across as a person that has seen too much. Years of investigation murders is certainly taking a toll on this man and Scott goes full throttle into this guys demeanor. You can never tell if he’s going to take out his gun and kill whoever is pissing him off. What we get from Kinderman is a man that almost seems to be giving up on the world. That there is no good and nothing but evil. Sometimes you have to accept that the world is a pile of shit I guess. Even through the great performance of Scott, one cannot ignore how awesome and epic Brad Dourif is in this movie. Seriously, Dourif should have gotten an Oscar for this movie because he is amazing.

Sorry Spoilers

Don’t read this part if you don’t want spoilers. I actually encourage you to move on from this. At one point Lt. Kinderman is investigating one of the murders in a hospital which then leads him to a psyche ward where he soon discovers patient X. Patient X is actually the body of Father Karras from the first film. The spirit of the Gemini killer has taken over the body and is being aided by the demon Pazuzu. So there, there is the connection to the first movie.

So Kinderman goes and talks to Patient X (Karras) but is seeing Karras as Brad Dourif the Gemini killer! What we see during these moments is Brad Dourif at his best. The dude is so creepy and terrifying that it blows my mind. This character serves as the antagonist throughout the film that doesn’t actually kill anyone. He continually possesses other victims that do his bidding. Which sets Kinderman on a road of chaos. The Gemini killer tries killing his own family by possessing a little old lady. She tries cutting Kindermans daughters head off with bone cutters and it’s brilliantly surprising.

Exorcist 3 is not your rip roaring horror fest that you would consider ideal Halloween style like A Nightmare On Elm Street or Evil Dead. It’s a serious film that presents itself in a more realistic tone. We don’t actually get anything too “exorcist” until the last fifteen minutes of the film. Which is what I love about the movie. Even the deaths leading up the the big ending are clean and off camera. We never see dead bodies covered in blood. Which might be depressing for you gore hounds. It makes the lurking presence of demonic forces seem more real and invading. Like Kinderman we all believe the murders are done by a copycat killer and scoff at the idea of some demon. We’re given a tug of war scenario of natural and supernatural or faith vs science.

This sequel creates a new and fresh dynamic compared to the first where, Pazuzu takes over and attempts to claim a single girls life, giving us the theme of the stabilized family and torturing it. Karras’ entire purpose and story is to defeat this force and then regain his faith. Exorcist 3 attacks the stabilized norms of a functioning society. The cultural safety nets represented as the police and doctors are dismantled. This becomes Kinderman’s trial through his disbelief and inability to accept the supernatural. It is a brilliant sequel that gives us a sense of dispair in a world that Kinderman already has lost faith in.

I love this movie and believe it deserves more attention. I think it’s lack of popularity may be because of the lackluster predecessor in The Exorcist 2: The Heretic. From what I hear, people actually laughed out loud at this film during its premier. But Exorcist 3 is a film that redeems the series and should be given severe consideration for any horror fan. It’s not as bonkers as the first, filled with puke inducing depictions.

That’s not to say there aren’t great scenes that are terrifying. One scene lasts for nearly five minutes of a night shift nurse checking in on her ward. We follow this lady around and the entire time can’t help but wait for her death. But it never comes! We’re sitting here waiting for the surprise to come and it’s exhausting! So the moment we let our guard down we’re hit in the balls with this gut wrenching jump scare. But if you’re someone that can admire amazing acting and a thought provoking film then this movie is just right for you. That’s why it is proudly praised for day twenty five in my Horror Movie Marathon 2019.

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