Today's Pick: The Exorcist III (1990)
The Exorcist isn't just one of the most seminal horror movies in American cinema, it's also a cultural touchstone that is so ingrained into our popular consciousness to the point that the film's classic images and moments become the only things we associate with the property. That's a shame, because in a perfect world, the masses would be just as enamored and traumatized by the third entry in the series. While Exorcist II: The Heretic was just the fevered dreams of its misplaced director, The Exorcist III is a concentrated effort to return to the eerie tone of the original, and at the same time, craft a story that allows for all new terrors to emerge.
The Exorcist III ditches the character and story of Regan (smart move) and decides to return to a supporting character from the first film, Detective Kinderman (a fantastically coarse George C. Scott). After his friend is murdered in a method once used by the deceased Gemini Killer, Kinderman gets wrapped up into yet another bizarre sequence of events that leads him down the path of darkness, and also reveals the fate of another character from the first film.
Where Exorcist II: The Heretic was like a bad acid trip, The Exorcist III feels like a sterile and atmospheric nightmare. There's plenty of weird stuff throughout the film, but it's all kept somewhat grounded by a tone that oozes menace and tension. William Peter Blatty, the author and screenwriter of the original film, returns as writer and director (adapting his own novel, "Legion") and brings back that omnipresent evil that was so prevalent in the first movie. There are scenes of almost overbearing dread in The Exorcist III that can make it difficult to sit through, much like the first film's outright disgusting and graphic imagery achieved seventeen years prior.
Much like the original (which can't be said about the first sequel), the film is also littered with some gripping performances. George C. Scott manages to be gruff and charming, and his monologue near the end of the film about what he believes in is powerfully dark. The best player ends up being the Gemini Killer, brought to terrifying life by none other than Chucky himself, Brad Dourif. Dourif is captivating as a sinister spirit still bound to this realm, and the scenes between him and Scott are just as memorable as all the head-spinning and vomiting from The Exorcist.
I can't sing this film's unholy praises enough. It's overflowing with creepiness and offers a distinctly different experience from the first film, but still maintains that film's overall apprehensive mood. The Exorcist III also has one of the best jump scares I've experienced, but there's no way I'm cluing you in on that!
Okay, no more sequels (for a while at least). Tomorrow, we're going to look at a colorful foreign classic. Hint: It's not My Neighbor Totoro. See you then!
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