The Exorcist III (1989)

5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 8/10

Some good jumps, great nurse scene

Unintentionally funny, George C. Scott is over-the-top

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Exorcist III

Studio: Morgan Creek Productions

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s):  October 1989 (MIFED Film Market)/August 17, 1990 (US)

MPAA Rating: R


Old people are funny…

A child is killed and Detective William F. Kinderman (George C. Scott) somehow believes that the Gemini Killer (Brad Dourif) has returned.  Kinderman’s friend Father Dyer (Ed Flanders) is admitted to the hospital where he is murdered in his room, and Kinderman discovers a mysterious patient who claims he is the Gemini Killer.  Kinderman realizes that the man resembles his old friend Damien Karras (Jason Miller) and that the exorcism he performed might be tied to how he could still be alive.  The Gemini Killer is hunting and Kinderman must find the connection and how the killer is getting out of the hospital before it is too late.


I’m not even supposed to be here today!!! (or ever)

Directed by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist III is based on Blatty’s 1983 novel Legion.  The movie was met with mixed reviews but did better than Exorcist II:  The Heretic of 1977.  Originally titled Legion after the novel (and sometimes called The Exorcist III:  Legion), the studios felt that calling it The Exorcist III would help market the film better.  George C. Scott was nominated for a Razzie for his performance.  The film was originally released at the MIFED  Film Market in Italy in 1989 before being released in the theaters in 1990.

The Exorcist III really has its moments and almost works.  The movie struggles to find its direction and it isn’t entirely the fault of the makers.  The filmmakers found itself in a battle with the studios over how the film should be.  The movie didn’t possess an exorcism…something that the studios demanded and Nicol Williamson and his Father Morning character was added for the end sequence.


Can a movie with Fabio as an angel be all that bad…I think we know the answer to that…

The Exorcist walks a fine line between the horror and unintentional comedy.  The script is laced with a lot of humor (mostly in the dialogue), but it is how the movie unfolds which gets the laughs.  Be it strange dreams where Fabio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Patrick Ewing show-up or the Gemini’s possession of the elderly which leave them scurrying over the ceilings, the movie’s odd plot following Kinderman’s path to stop Gemini and free his friend makes for an odd story.



The story and the “horror” are undermined also by the acting of George C. Scott.  His over-the-top acting and bellowing make the film really laughable.  With the death of Lee J. Cobb, Scott was cast to replace the actor who had the role in the original.  It was nice to see Jason Miller back (ever so briefly) as Patient X regardless if the role wasn’t very good, and Brad Dourif always plays a great psycho.  In addition to the dream sequence cameos, the movie also features appearances by C. Everett Koop and Larry King in the bar scene, and Scott’s wife is played by horror veteran Zohra Lampert (who appeared in the classic Let’s Scare Jessica to Death).


If the movie was as scary as this scene, it would have been awesome!

Visually, The Exorcist III actually does have a few great jumps.  Yes, the old people on the ceiling are funny, but there is something rather creepy about them too.  The best scene in the entire film (and a great horror scene in general) comes from the nurse’s patrol.  The scene is long and doesn’t really fit in with much of the movie.  The nurse travels the corridors (first having a jump with a glass of ice water and a doctor).  The perfectly timed leaving of guards allows a huge jump when a killer in white rushes out to chop off the nurse’s head when she is turned.  It makes me jump every time and I wish the rest of the movie had maintained this type of suspense and scares…it would have been much better.

It is these contradictions in the film that make The Exorcist III such a sad failure.  While in one hand the obvious scares are there, the other hand has half developed and laughable scenes.  Blatty has talked about going back and reassembling his cut of the film, but reports are that the original footage was destroyed.  The Exorcist ended for a time after this film but in 2004 and 2005, two prequels sprung up (one again from creative differences).

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Related Links:

The Exorcist (1973)

Exorcist II:  The Heretic (1977)

Exorcist:  The Beginning (2004)

Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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