It had been a while since I had seen this 1990 follow up to the lamely disappointing Exorcist II: The Heretic. My memories of it were vague and thus I felt it must of been an equally disappointing experience. But after catching it again recently on late night television I think I got a little more from it.
The Exorcist III takes a completely new approach to the series concentrating on what-is-assumed copycat serial killings of the notorious Zodiac killer. Mutilated priests and doctors are showing up left, right and centre albeit drained of blood and with missing heads. And so what has this all got to do with the original? Or Exorcisms in general? Well, quite a bit really.
Unfortunately a lot of the film seems to be undecipherable and trying to guess what exactly is going on all the time is a bit of a challenge. It drops hints here and there but contains an awful lot of dialogue, especially spoken by the Zodiac Killer (played superbly by genre favourite Brad Dourif). The key to the connection between this film and the original is the returning appearance of Patient X (Father Damien Karras) played by actor Jason Miller. Is he the Devil, is he Brad Dourif's character, or is he himself? It seems he's all three.
It does feel that director and writer William Peter Blatty (this being based on his novel Legion) has incorporated a lot of psychobabble and nonsensical motions in his film and I don't know whether it is to give it an air of darkness and a more creepy undertone or whether it was just a bad adaption.
But there are flashes of imagination, clever and suspensful build ups. Intelligent directing all round in many of the scenes. Notable moments being the old lady crawling across the ceiling and the decapitation (unseen on screen) of the nurse in the hospital as she exits one of the rooms. In addition kudos to George C. Scott, I thought he did a great job.
The original Exorcist will always remain an outstanding movie. Trying to compete with its success on the same levels in nigh-on impossible. The Exorcist III takes a new stand and is brave enough to test the water. And being the early 90s you have to applaud anything that was trying to push away from the mediocrity of some of the video nasty trash from the 80s.