Saturday, November 05, 2005

DVD: The Exorcist III: Legion

Genre: Horror sequels
Released: Aug. 17, 1990
Director: William Peter Blatty
Verdict: &&&1/2

The Halloween binge continued with The Exorcist III: Legion, a title that musters all the dread you'd feel before watching a movie like, say, Halloween: Resurrection. Good news, though: This sequel is a pleasant surprise, free of the demons of cheap scares and special effects. There's no trace of Linda Blair vomiting pea soup; this movie takes a quieter, thoughtful approach -- something nearly lost altogether in nail-biters of the 2000s. The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty, in his sole directorial turn, constructs more of a mystery here as George C. Scott, in a warm and engaging performance as Lt. Kinderman, investigates what appear to be serial killings in the style of the long-dead Gemini Killer (Brad Dourif, devouring scenery as an eloquent mental patient). Long story short, the soul of Father Karras (Jason Miller), who took that unfortunate tumble out the window in the first movie, is being held hostage by sinister forces within the Dourif character. Early on, there's a surprising amount of humor in the dialogue between Kinderman and Father Dyer (Ed Flanders), and it serves as an effective counterpoint as the stage is set with gruesome killings by means of decapitation and exsanguination. Dialogue positively sings; Kinderman's confrontations with the killer are symphonies of verbal sparring. When pressed by the killer to say that he believes, I particularly like skeptical Kinderman's reply: "I believe in disease, suffering, every single ugly thing …" That's not verbatim, but you get the idea. There is an exorcism scene near the end, but Blatty wisely doesn't try to make it rival that of the first movie. Rarely mentioned or even seen on cable these days, Exorcist III is a classy, stylish horror film that casts out the loud, garish scares of so many inferior films and blesses the viewer with mystery and high tension. // DVD notes // Picture quality is superb, but the lone extra is a brief theatrical trailer.

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