The Exorcist III (1990)

exorcist iii poster 1989 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 8/10

Some good jumps, great nurse scene

Unintentionally funny at points, 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

exorcist iii old lady ceiling george c scott

Why does it feel like somebody’s watching me?

A child is found ritually murdered, and when a priest also is killed in a strange fashion, Detective William F. Kinderman (George C. Scott) believes a serial killer is active mimicking the action of the executed murderer known as the Gemini Killer (Brad Dourif).  When tragedy strikes Kinderman’s friend Father Joseph Dyer (Ed Flanders), Kinderman discovers that the horrors might be linked to the hospital and a patient that has the appearance of Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller).  Unfortunately, Karras died years ago, and Kinderman must discover the identity of the man in Cell #11 and his ties to the Gemini Killer.

Written and directed by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist III is a supernatural horror.  Following (and disregarding) Exorcist II:  The Heretic from 1977, the movie adapts Blatty’s 1983 novel Legion.  The film premiered at the MIFED Film Market in October of 1989, but it did not receive a release until August 1990.  The film was released to mixed to negative reviews and George C. Scott received a nomination for a Razzie for Worst Actor.  Since the film’s release, The Exorcist III has gained a cult following.

The Exorcist was legendary.  Exorcist II was forgettable.  The Exorcist III was a movie with extremely mixed results.  Containing some truly horrific moments, the film sometimes succeeds in scares but also is loaded with laughs…some intentional and some unintentional.

exorcist iii fabio angel

Great…now I just imagine the afterlife with Patrick Ewing and Fabio as angels

The story is all over the place and feels hacked up at points.  Blatty battled with the filmmakers over control of the film and a “Director’s Cut” was released in 2016 just before Blatty’s death in 2016.  The confusion over the plans for the film seem to hurt the film.  There are moments of inspiration (with the jumping between Karras and the Gemini Killer), and the killings are terrifying.  It feels like there is a good movie inside The Exorcist III, but it doesn’t seem to make it out of the mess.

George C. Scott both hurts the movie and helps the movie.  He is bombastic and over-acting in most of his scenes.  The dialogue and the style of his acting don’t match up, but it is amusing.  Ed Flanders and Scott have an almost vaudevillian act between them, and Scott Wilson’s broken psychiatrist feels like he is in a different movie.  Brad Dourif is a scene stealer, but it is also great to see Jason Miller back.  I wish Scott’s character’s wife Zohra Lampert had been in more of the film (I loved her in Let’s Scare Jessica to Death), and I love Nancy Fish as the overacting nurse that almost rival’s Scott’s acting.  The movie also features cameos by Samuel L. Jackson, C. Everett Koop, Larry King, Harry Carey Jr., Patrick Ewing, and Fabio.

exorcist iii nurse killed scene

Still one of the best jumps…even (or especially) if you know it is coming

The movie also is a painful miss because there are some fantastic scares.  The visuals of the old people climbing on the ceiling is laugh-worthy, but there is also something terrifying about it.  The dream sequence is odd but also so dream-like that it feels real (and the crucifix’s eyes opening is chilling).  The movie’s greatest jump is a long, extended scene involving a nurse on a quiet night.  It is a great jump that even scares when you know it is coming.

The Exorcist III could have been great.  It has its moments, and it is watchable because of some moments of sheer terror.  I wish that movie could have made it over the hump to be a worthy sequel to The Exorcist (it still is worlds better than Exorcist II).  The Exorcist III was followed by two prequel movies (due to disputes in production) Exorcist:  The Beginning in 2004 by Renny Harlin and Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist in 2005 by Paul Schrader.

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/Instagram/Letterboxd @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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