THE EXORCIST/THE EXORCIST 3- A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
THE EXORCIST. 1973. DIRECTED BY WILLIAM FRIEDKIN. PRODUCED BY/SCREENPLAY BY WILLIAM PETER BLATTY. BASED ON THE BOOK ‘THE EXORCIST’ BY WILLIAM PETER BLATTY. STARRING LINDA BLAIR, ELLEN BURSTYN, LEE J. COBB, JASON MILLER, MAX VON SYDOW AND MERCEDES MCCAMBRIDGE.
THE EXORCIST 3. 1990. DIRECTED BY/SCREENPLAY BY WILLIAM PETER BLATTY. STARRING GEORGE C. SCOTT, JASON MILLER AND ED FLANDERS.
I had no notion in the world of making THE EXORCIST the subject of my Halloween viewing this year. I’d been keeping an unwatched copy of the film in my DVD collection for months, too chicken to watch it. Then a visit to a charity shop on a gloriously sunny Halloween afternoon unexpectedly turned up a copy of the special 25th anniversary version for a euro. One euro! I wouldn’t be much of a collector if I left it behind.
I took it home and watched it straightaway, on Halloween afternoon with the curtains open and the sunlight streaming through the windows. Not, perhaps, the way it should be watched but hey, if it got me in front of that screen, what did that matter…?
Director William Friedkin was up first with a nice informal chat about the film. Look at you, I thought disbelievingly, wearing your nice unthreatening cardigan, talking in your nice calm friendly voice about the film to come as if it WASN’T considered the scariest, most disturbing horror film ever made! I’ve heard how terrifying it is. I know, Mr. William Friedkin, I know…!
Mind you, he never tried to deny it was scary, I’ll give him that. He was just hoping that I, the viewer, would get out of the film what he and the film-makers tried to put into it. In all honesty, I think I did, if pants-wetting terror was the aim of Friedkin And Co., heh-heh-heh…!
Based on true events but changed around a bit, it’s the story of Regan MacNeil, a normal little American girl who becomes possessed by the demon Pazuzu, a nasty piece of work who makes the sweet, affectionate pretty twelve-year-old do and say the most unspeakably disgusting and inappropriate things. Her mother Chris eventually decides to have the child exorcised, after first going down the medical route and finding no help there.
I hated Father Damien Karras, the priest to whom Chris turns for help. I found him a wishy-washy, crisis-of-faith-having mope who let his elderly and infirm mother live (and rot) in a rat-hole of a slum. Father Lankester Merrin, the priest who leads the actual exorcism, is much more kick-ass.
Over the years, I’d heard so much about the film and seen so many clips and stills online that I was pretty much able to tick off the key scenes in my mind as the movie progressed. Here’s the projectile-vomiting scene. Here’s the grotesque head-spinning scene. Here’s the (ahem) crucifix-being-used-for-a-naughty-purpose scene. There they all were, one after the other in all their grisly glory, each scene more frightening than the last.
Unfortunately, as I was watching the 25th anniversary version as opposed to ‘THE VERSION YOU’VE NEVER SEEN,’ I missed out on seeing the infamous ‘Spider-Walk’ scene, which I’d really been looking forward to. Fortunately for me, however, it turns out that the unwatched DVD I’d been hoarding in my collection for months is in fact ‘THE VERSION YOU’VE NEVER SEEN,’ so as soon as I recover from this Halloween-afternoon shock-to-the-system, I’m going to try to watch this other version. Mind you, I can’t say when that’ll be. My recovery could take some time…!
Needless to say, THE EXORCIST garnered all kinds of awards and acclaim and you guys know all about these by now. There’s not much I can add to what’s been said about this fantastically ground-breaking piece of cinematic art except to say that I wish I’d thought of the idea first, haha. I’d be set for life…
THE EXORCIST 3 was actually directed by the writer, William Peter Blatty, and is a follow-on from the original film. I watched it at eleven o’clock at night as part of the Irish Film Institute’s 2015 Horrorthon and I saw it before I saw the original. It was probably for this reason that it didn’t resonate as much with me as it might have done had I been watching it in the correct order. That’s me, sadly. Always doing things arseways.
Anyway, in this sequel we have Lieutenant Kindermann from the first film trying to solve a series of satanic murders that have their roots in what happened to poor little Regan MacNeil a decade and a half earlier. George C. Scott as Kindermann was nominated for a GOLDEN RASPBERRY AWARD FOR WORST ACTOR for his performance here but I think that’s totally mean. I thought he was lovely and solid and huggable in this, if a wee bit hammy.
I also loved the friendship between Kindermann and cuddly old grey-haired ‘n’ grizzly Father Dyer from the first film. The stuffed penguin on the windowsill made me cry buckets. Mopey old Father Damien Karras reprises his role from the original film but with a twist. A big fat demonic twist, haha. I still didn’t like him, though he possibly has more balls this time round. The dark, steep flight of special EXORCIST steps are back too, and they are flippin’ terrifying.
I wasn’t really scared as such at any point during this film. Rather, I’d describe myself as having felt unsettled or disturbed as opposed to outright petrified. Maybe if I’d seen the original film first, I wouldn’t have felt such a sense of ‘disconnection’ to THE EXORCIST 3. What I should probably do is to sit down and watch the two of ’em back-to-back in the right order. All in good time, folks. All in good time. Give my shattered nerves a chance to piece themselves back together…
If I may be less than positive for a moment, I’d just like to say that I found the murder of little Nurse Amy hilarious. In the space of a few seconds, she was slit from top to bottom, stuffed with rosary beads and stitched right back up without anyone spotting whodunnit. Mind you, that is one under-staffed and poorly-lit hospital. I wouldn’t trust my loved ones to its tender mercies, that’s for sure.
I forgot to say that when the words ‘ED FLANDERS’ came up on the screen during the credits at the beginning, the whole audience sniggered. Can you guess why? Oh and, by the way, cheesy sex symbol Fabio turns up briefly as an angel in Heaven. Say no more…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY