The Exorcist is one of those rare situations where a massively successful original film is followed up by its third film- not second- in the franchise. It is common knowledge that William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece is one of the great and most influential films in horror. But what is lesser known is that the atrocious and forgettable 1977 follow-up- The Heretic– was ‘replaced’ in 1990 by The Exorcist III. So watch the first, follow it up with the third and completely ignore the second.

It’s understandable why this film flew under the radar. By 1990, those notoriously bad 80’s slashers along with the oversaturated and played out Freddie and Jason franchises all but killed the horror genre. Also, film-making in the 1980’s became different compared to the 1970’s. Teen demographics became the focus of film-making and marketing whereby films a la Back to the Future and 80’s slashers dominated the landscape. A serious adult-themed horror detective story starring George C. Scott wasn’t lining people up outside the theaters. However, it would a year later when Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins teamed up to offer something very similar to The Exorcist III.

George C. Scott Brad Dourif

George C. Scott Brad Dourif

 

Why Silence of the Lambs Outdrew The Exorcist III

That The Silence of the Lambs overshadows The Exorcist III is understandable, since it is a superior film- but not by much. Also consider that The Silence of the Lambs was not marketed as a horror film, but rather as a taut suspense thriller in the Fatal AttractionBasic Instinct mold. When people paid to see Lambs they were essentially tricked into seeing a horror film. The Exorcist III has very similar plot elements but was marketed as pure horror- which we know by 1990 was a dead cinema genre. It’s unfortunate because in the genre of horror, The Exorcist III is considered a truly great film- and one of the best to come out in the entire decade of the 90’s.

Exorcist III

Exorcist III

 

Reason #1 Why You Should See The Exorcist III: The Cast

Oscar winning actor George C. Scott is joined by Jason Miller who reprises his role as Father Damien Karras from the original 1973 film. Father Karras, who commited suicide in the original film to oust the demon, is now the face of the demonic possession that plagues a mental patient played by Oscar nominated One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest actor Brad Dourif. The interview scenes between homicide detective, played by Scott, and Dourif’s possessed mental patient is precisely what Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins achieved in The Silence of the Lambs a year later, but The Exorcist III was first to achieve that dynamic on film.

Exorcist III

Exorcist III

 

Reason #2 Why You Should See The Exorcist III: Two Scenes Worth The Entire Movie

In addition to this stellar detective story and A-list cast are the frights. This horror film has 2 of the most frightening scenes you will experience in the genre of horror. Not that this film has only two scary scenes, there are many, but in the entire genre of horror these particular two stand out as brilliantly presented. The genius of these two scenes is that you will see absolutely nothing but be chilled to the bone nonetheless. The film brilliantly let’s you use your imagination as to what you think happens (in the hospital bed) or is about to happen (in the confessional). Actually, seeing what happens to these characters would not terrify half as much as what your imagination thinks has occurred. The film lays the groundwork with tension and anticipation, your imagination does the rest. You will be quite disturbed without seeing any violence, blood or gore.

Good quality horror films are few and far between. The Exorcist III is a true gem, so if you’ve been searching lately for something quality, add this to your must-see list.

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