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HISTORY

       Despite its numerical designation, The Exorcist III was marketed as “the official sequel” to The Exorcist (1973, see entry). Four years after the disastrous Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977, see entry), novelist-screenwriter-director William Peter Blatty told the 17 Feb 1981 HR that his current project, titled Legion, would be the true sequel. Having written the best-selling The Exorcist and its screen adaptation, which he also produced, Blatty claimed that he had nothing to do with Exorcist II. Blatty told the 26 Feb 1989 LAT that his novel, Legion, was originally unconnected to The Exorcist, other than its protagonist being Washington, D.C., homicide detective “William Kinderman,” a secondary character in The Exorcist. However, he made changes to the screenplay, including the return of “Father Damien Karras,” that linked the two stories.
       Two actors from the first film did not return in Exorcist III despite the continuation of their characters. Actor Lee J. Cobb, who portrayed Lieutenant Kinderman, died in 1976. Rev. William O’Malley, a Jesuit priest, played “Father Dyer” in what amounted to a cameo, then immediately retired from acting. The only returning actor was Jason Miller, who was hired late in the production to resume the character of Father Damien Karras. Actress Sylvia Sidney filmed a couple of scenes as “Shirley,” Lt. Kinderman’s mother-in-law, but did not complete her role. She was replaced by Barbara Baxley, whose appearance in The Exorcist III was her last before her death on 7 Jun 1990. According to the 16 May 1989 Orange County ... More Less

       Despite its numerical designation, The Exorcist III was marketed as “the official sequel” to The Exorcist (1973, see entry). Four years after the disastrous Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977, see entry), novelist-screenwriter-director William Peter Blatty told the 17 Feb 1981 HR that his current project, titled Legion, would be the true sequel. Having written the best-selling The Exorcist and its screen adaptation, which he also produced, Blatty claimed that he had nothing to do with Exorcist II. Blatty told the 26 Feb 1989 LAT that his novel, Legion, was originally unconnected to The Exorcist, other than its protagonist being Washington, D.C., homicide detective “William Kinderman,” a secondary character in The Exorcist. However, he made changes to the screenplay, including the return of “Father Damien Karras,” that linked the two stories.
       Two actors from the first film did not return in Exorcist III despite the continuation of their characters. Actor Lee J. Cobb, who portrayed Lieutenant Kinderman, died in 1976. Rev. William O’Malley, a Jesuit priest, played “Father Dyer” in what amounted to a cameo, then immediately retired from acting. The only returning actor was Jason Miller, who was hired late in the production to resume the character of Father Damien Karras. Actress Sylvia Sidney filmed a couple of scenes as “Shirley,” Lt. Kinderman’s mother-in-law, but did not complete her role. She was replaced by Barbara Baxley, whose appearance in The Exorcist III was her last before her death on 7 Jun 1990. According to the 16 May 1989 Orange County Register, Eileen Brennan was hired to play "Nurse X,” but the role was filled in the final film by Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors. The 3 Jun 1990 Boston Globe reported that actors Roscoe Lee Browne and Colleen Dewhurst, the wife of star George C. Scott, were hired to add their voices to that of Brad Dourif's character during his demonic scenes. The Exorcist director William Friedkin told the 24 Jul 1986 Chicago Sun-Times that he was offered $10 million to helm The Exorcist III, but turned it down.
       The 30 Jun 1987 issue of Montreal, Canada’s The Gazette reported that Exorcist III would be filmed in Montreal. However, according to the 3 Jul 1989 DV, principal photography began in the Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown on 5 Jun 1989 and moved to Wilmington, NC, in late Jun or early Jul 1989. Production was set to wrap in mid-Aug. Among locations described in studio production notes in AMPAS library files are the Georgetown University campus and the “famous ‘Exorcist steps’ from the first film. The production used the university’s Jesuit dining room, the president’s office, a chapel, and a library. The hospital scenes were shot on a NC soundstage.
       The head of Morgan Creek Productions told the 21 Aug 1990 USA Today that after test audiences reacted negatively, “we rewrote and reshot $9 million worth of film.” Reportedly, actor Jason Miller was written into the script, as was Nicol Williamson’s “Father Morning,” in order to create a sense of continuity from the original film and to justify the word “exorcist” in the title. The 2 Apr 1989 LAT identified an early title as Exorcist: 15 Years Later. As late as 6 Jun 1989, HR reported that the film would be called The Exorcist 1990. Two months before its release, the 25 Jun 1990 Newsweek referred to the film as The Exorcist III: Legion, a reference to the title of Blatty’s source material.
       Morgan Creek Productions held off press screenings until hours before the film opened nationally, the 20 Aug 1990 LAT noted. The Exorcist III debuted as America’s number-one film, but sales dropped by sixty-one percent the second weekend, the Oct 1990 Box reported. Gross receipts for the two weeks totaled $16.6 million.
      End notes contain acknowledgments: “The producers are deeply grateful to the following: Reverend Timothy S. Healy, S.J.; Reverend Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., President, Georgetown University; The Georgetown City Council; and the People of Georgetown for their gracious and invaluable assistance during the making of the film. Special thanks to: Nomura Babcock & Brown Film Partners I; Video Assist Systems Inc.; Travel arrangements - Hoffman Travel Service; Solex Environmental System.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Boston Globe
3 Jun 1990
Section B, p. 41.
Box Office
Oct 1990.
---
Chicago Sun-Times
24 Jul 1986
p. 43.
Daily Variety
3 Jul 1989
p. 3.
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1990
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 1990
pp. 17-18.
LAHExam
3 Feb 1988.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
19 Oct 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Feb 1989
Section L, p. 32.
Los Angeles Times
2 Apr 1989
p.
Los Angeles Times
17 Aug 1990
Section F, p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
20 Aug 1990
p. 6.
New York Times
18 Aug 1990
p. 13.
Newsday (Long Island, NY)
18 Aug 1990
p. 17.
Newsweek
25 Jun 1990.
---
Orange County Register
16 May 1989
Section F, p. 4.
The Gazette (Montreal)
30 Jun 1987
Section C, p. 8.
USA Today
21 Aug 1990
p. 1D.
Variety
12 Jul 1989
p. 30.
Variety
22 Aug 1990
p. 76.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-Starring:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
James G. Robinson and Joe Roth Present
A Morgan Creek Production
In Association With Carter De Haven
Released through Twentieth Century Fox
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit mgr
1st asst dir
Key 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit aerial dir
Prod mgr, 2d unit - Los Angeles
Dir, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
1st asst dir, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
2d asst dir, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
DGA trainee, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Steadicam asst
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Grip
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Genny op
Elec
Still photog
Cam op, 2d unit - Los Angeles
1st ass cam, 2d unit - Los Angeles
2d asst cam, 2d unit - Los Angeles
Steadicam op, 2d unit - Los Angeles
Steadicam asst, 2d unit - Los Angeles
Dir of photog, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Cam op, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
1st ass cam, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
1st ass cam, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
1st ass cam, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
2d asst cam, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
2d asst cam, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Video asst op, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Anim photog, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Draft person
Art dir, 2d unit - Los Angeles
Asst art dir, 2d unit - Los Angeles
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Apprentice
Apprentice
Negative cutting
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Asst to des
Const coord
Const foreman
Const buyer
Shop foreman
Const
Lead carpenter
Lead carpenter
Lead carpenter
Lead carpenter
Head plasterer
Head painter
Standby carpenter
Prop master
Asst prop master
Buyer
Buyer
Set dec, 2d unit - Los Angeles
Prop mistress, 2d unit - Los Angeles
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer - Mr. Scott
Cost asst
Cost asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus coord
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Sd eff rec
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cableman
Rec eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Asst eff
Asst eff
Asst eff
Spec eff tech, 2d unit - Los Angeles
Visual eff supv, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Spec eff consultant, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Spec eff tech, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Mechanical eff, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Show Motion des, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Show Motion des, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Show Motion des, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Spec vis eff, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Visual eff supv, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Visual eff prod, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Matte artist, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Anim supv, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Opt supv, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Opt compositing, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Opt compositing, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Opt compositing, Spec eff unit - Los Angeles
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Spec makeup created by
Cannom Creations crew
Cannom Creations crew
Cannom Creations crew
Cannom Creations crew
Cannom Creations crew
Cannom Creations crew
Cannom Creations crew
Cannom Creations crew
Makeup supv
Makeup - Mr. Scott
Hair supv
Extra hair
Wig maker
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting
Prod exec
Post prod supv
Unit pub
Asst to Mr. Robinson
Asst to Mr. Blatty
Asst to Mr. De Haven
Chauffeur to Mr. Robinson
Scr supv
Asst prod coord
Prod office coord
Loc mgr - Wilmington, N.C.
Loc - Washington, D.C.
Casting - Wilmington
Casting - Wilmington
Casting - Washington, D.C.
Casting - Washington, D.C.
Casting - Washington, D.C.
Casting asst
Casting asst
Travel coord
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Post prod accountant
Prod secy
Key prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Morgan Creek admin
Transportation coord
Transportation capt - Wilmington
Transportation steward - D.C.
Transportation capt - D.C.
Dispatcher - D.C.
Craft services
Craft services
Craft services
First aid
Caterer
Jesuit tech adv
Prod coord, 2d unit - Los Angeles
Asst coord, 2d unit - Los Angeles
Completion guaranty provided by
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
Asst stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Legion by William Peter Blatty (New York, 1983).
SONGS
"Gloria" Liturgical Chant, performed by Burleigh Seaver
"Come Falda Di Neve Fro," by Orlande De Lassus, provided by Kaleidosound/James & Aster, Inc.
"Lagrime De San Pietro," by Orlande De Lassus, provided by Kaleidosound/James & Aster, Inc.
+
SONGS
"Gloria" Liturgical Chant, performed by Burleigh Seaver
"Come Falda Di Neve Fro," by Orlande De Lassus, provided by Kaleidosound/James & Aster, Inc.
"Lagrime De San Pietro," by Orlande De Lassus, provided by Kaleidosound/James & Aster, Inc.
"Song Of India," performed by Tommy Dorsey, courtesy of RCA Records
"Tubular Bells," by Mike Oldfield ©1974 Virgin Music (Publishers) Ltd, all rights for U.S.A. and Canada, administered by Virgin Music, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Titles:
The Exorcist: 1990
Legion
The Exorcist III: Legion
Exorcist III
William Peter Blatt's The Exorcist III
Release Date:
17 August 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 August 1990
Production Date:
5 June--mid August 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Morgan Creek Film Partners I
Copyright Date:
20 August 1990
Copyright Number:
PA476044
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
105
Length(in feet):
9,882
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30653
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Jesuit priest Joseph Dyer visits the outdoor stairway in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where his friend, Father Damien Karras, tumbled to his death fifteen years earlier. Meanwhile, Police Lieutenant William “Bill” Kinderman looks at a photograph of himself with Father Damien. That night, as wind blows open the doors of nearby Holy Trinity Church, Father Dyer dreams of falling down the steps, while Kinderman walks a deserted street and receives a rose from a young black man. The next day, Kinderman is called to the Potomac River to investigate the mutilation murder of a twelve-year-old African-American boy, Thomas Kintry. Recognizing the modus operandi of James Venamun, known as the “Gemini Killer,” he asks his detectives to get the serial killer’s file. They remind him that Venamun was executed fifteen years earlier. Later, Kinderman and Father Dyer attend a screening of Dyer’s favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, and afterward have a discussion in which Kinderman discusses how Kintry, the latest victim, was ritually decapitated and laid out with a head from a statue of Jesus, painted in blackface. Elsewhere, as Father Kanavan takes confession at Holy Trinity Church, an old woman tells him how she once butchered a child. Later, Kinderman arrives to investigate Father Kanavan’s murder. The priest’s head and right index finger are gone. Later, Kinderman goes to Georgetown General Hospital to talk with Father Dyer, who has admitted himself for medical tests. In a hallway near the elevators, Kinderman fails to notice that a statue of Jesus in a wall niche is missing its head. Sergeant Adkins reports to Kinderman that both ... +


Jesuit priest Joseph Dyer visits the outdoor stairway in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where his friend, Father Damien Karras, tumbled to his death fifteen years earlier. Meanwhile, Police Lieutenant William “Bill” Kinderman looks at a photograph of himself with Father Damien. That night, as wind blows open the doors of nearby Holy Trinity Church, Father Dyer dreams of falling down the steps, while Kinderman walks a deserted street and receives a rose from a young black man. The next day, Kinderman is called to the Potomac River to investigate the mutilation murder of a twelve-year-old African-American boy, Thomas Kintry. Recognizing the modus operandi of James Venamun, known as the “Gemini Killer,” he asks his detectives to get the serial killer’s file. They remind him that Venamun was executed fifteen years earlier. Later, Kinderman and Father Dyer attend a screening of Dyer’s favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, and afterward have a discussion in which Kinderman discusses how Kintry, the latest victim, was ritually decapitated and laid out with a head from a statue of Jesus, painted in blackface. Elsewhere, as Father Kanavan takes confession at Holy Trinity Church, an old woman tells him how she once butchered a child. Later, Kinderman arrives to investigate Father Kanavan’s murder. The priest’s head and right index finger are gone. Later, Kinderman goes to Georgetown General Hospital to talk with Father Dyer, who has admitted himself for medical tests. In a hallway near the elevators, Kinderman fails to notice that a statue of Jesus in a wall niche is missing its head. Sergeant Adkins reports to Kinderman that both Kintry and Father Kanavan were drugged with a paralyzing agent before being mutilated, but despite the similarities in the crimes, fingerprints at the two scenes do not match. That night, Kinderman dreams of walking through a purgatory-like waiting room, serenaded by an orchestra of angels. He sees Kintry, then Father Dyer, and asks the priest if they might be having the same dream. Dyer replies that the detective is not dreaming. The telephone awakens Kinderman, and he is told that Father Dyer has been murdered. Arriving at Georgetown General Hospital, he learns the priest’s blood has been drained and transferred to rows of specimen jars beside the bed. Scrawled in blood on the wall are the words “It’s a Wonderfull Life.” Kinderman orders the hospital locked down and searched. Nurse Allerton tells the lieutenant that an elderly, “quasi-catatonic patient,” Mrs. Clelia, was lying in the hallway outside Dyer’s room that morning. Staff psychiatrist Dr. Temple introduces Kinderman to her, but Mrs. Clelia remembers nothing. Dr. Temple ushers Kinderman into the “disturbed ward” through a security door. Hearing someone call his name, Kinderman looks into a dark cell and sees a man shackled in a straitjacket who looks like Father Damien. Dr. Temple identifies him as “Patient X.” Before Kinderman can investigate further, Dr. Freedman, Georgetown General’s administrator, calls him to his office to demand that he remove his policemen from the hospital. Kinderman explains that Father Dyer’s murder, as well as two previous ones, bear the marks of the Gemini Killer: The right index fingers were removed, and a Zodiac sign was carved into the left palms. Also, whoever wrote the blood note on Father Dyer’s wall spelled “wonderful” with two “l”s, another trait of the Gemini Killer. They go to an operating room, where Kinderman sees a set of spring-activated surgical shears capable of decapitating a human. Kinderman visits the Jesuit president of Georgetown University to discuss what the victims had in common. Father Dyer introduced Father Damien to the MacNeil family, whose daughter Regan was given exorcism rites fifteen years earlier by Father Damien and another priest. Father Kanavan authorized the exorcism, and Kintry’s mother, who analyzed the tapes of the demon speaking through Regan MacNeil, determined that its language was English spoken backwards. The president reveals that Father Paul Morning, who lives on campus, is the only priest in the diocese who has performed an exorcism. Nearby, Father Morning witnesses strange things in his room. A bird he rescued suddenly dies, a crucifix falls off the wall and bleeds, and wind blows open the windows. Later, Kinderman learns that Mrs. Clelia’s fingerprints are on the jars containing Father Dyer’s blood. He asks why she went into the priest’s room, but the old woman has no memory of doing it. When Kinderman asks Dr. Temple about “Patient X,” the psychiatrist explains that he was an amnesia victim without identification who was brought to the ward fifteen years earlier. Recently the man became violent, which is why he is now shackled. When Dr. Temple says Patient X imagines himself to be the Gemini Killer, Kinderman tells his detectives to get the late Father Damien’s dental records, because he believes the priest is Patient X. Taken to the cell, Kinderman finds Patient X anxious to talk. The prisoner gives the detective details of the Gemini Killer’s murders that only the perpetrator would know, and confesses he recently killed the priests and the Kintry boy “for a friend.” He demands that Kinderman alert the press that the Gemini Killer is back, or else “I will punish you,” then mumbles “goodbye, Amy,” and falls asleep. Kinderman learns from Nurse Allerton that the locks on Patient X’s shackles keep breaking. She mentions that she once heard him say, “save your servant,” in a normal voice. Kinderman hurries to Georgetown University library and finds the words—“save your servant who trusts in you, my Lord”—in a passage from the “Rite for Exorcism.” Later, in the disturbed ward, nurse Amy Keating is decapitated and her internal organs replaced with Catholic rosaries. Dr. Temple is also found dead from a drug overdose. Patient X asks Kinderman if he “got my message.” He explains that his soul was stranded in a void after his state execution, but when Father Damien exorcised a demon from Regan MacNeil, it leaped into Father Damien’s body and brought the Gemini Killer’s spirit with him. Now, the demon enjoys mentally torturing Father Damien, who cannot stop the evil perpetrated by his temporal body. Patient X tells Kinderman he also controlled Dr. Temple, which is why the psychiatrist brought the lieutenant to his cell in the first place. Asked how he got access to his victims, Patient X coyly admits having “old friends” who do it for him. Again, Patient X drifts off, and for a moment, Father Damien calls out for “Bill” to help him. Returning to the main ward, Kinderman realizes the “old friends” must be the senile and semi-catatonic patients. In a nearby room, an old woman murders a young nurse, dresses in her uniform, and escapes by crawling along the ceiling above Kinderman’s head. Seeing blood coming from under a door, the lieutenant finds the dead nurse nude, and fears that Patient X has sent a patient, now dressed as a nurse, after his family. He tries to telephone his wife, Mary, but the line is busy. However, Mary receives a telephone call from someone sounding like her husband, announcing that a nurse is coming to the house. A policeman drives Kinderman home with the siren screaming, and when he arrives, the nurse sits in the kitchen with Mary and daughter Julie. The elderly nurse murmurs “help me,” then reaches into her bag and pulls out a large pair of shears. She tries to cut off Julie’s head, but Mary pulls her daughter away in time. The nurse throws the lieutenant against the wall and starts to strangle him, but suddenly loses strength and falls to the floor. At that moment, Father Morning enters Georgetown General’s disturbed ward, and Patient X knows why he has come. The priest, carrying a Bible, a crucifix, and holy water, performs the rite of exorcism, but the demon’s power sets the Bible on fire and presses Father Morning against the ceiling, cracking open his skull. The priest lies on the floor when the police detective returns to the cell. Kinderman realizes he must kill Father Damien’s body in order to end his torment and trap the demon, but Patient X throws him against the wall. Despite his agnosticism, Kinderman shouts that he believes in the devil, because he believes in corruption and evil. Lightning bolts open a vision of hell in the floor of the cell, and murder victims rise up. With his last breath, Father Morning holds up his crucifix long enough to distract the demon and break its hold on the lieutenant. Kinderman fires a bullet into Father Damien’s body. +

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Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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