William Peter Blatty made the film based on his novel “Legion,” which was published in 1983. Morgan Creek decided to call it “The Exorcist III: Legion” even though the screenplay and novel featured no exorcisms whatsoever. After principal photography was completed, the misleading nature of the title was noticed, and the producers determined that additional scenes needed to be written and then added into the film in order to made it a more recognizable sequel of The Exorcist (1973). The last third of the movie had to be entirely redone, with the insertion of a new character, Father Morning, and of an exorcism scene that cost nearly four million dollars.101 of 102 found this interesting | Share thisThe Gemini Killer character was inspired by the real-life serial killer, “The Zodiac”.66 of 67 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Peter Blatty had hoped to recover the deleted footage from the Morgan Creek vaults, so that he might re-assemble the original cut of the film, which he said was “rather different” from what was released. Unfortunately for Blatty, and for the fans who had been clamoring for such a release, the footage was lost for years. On June 28, 2007, Blatty’s wife sent the following comment to a fan site: “My husband tells me that it is Morgan Creek’s claim that they have lost all the footage, including an alternate opening scene in which Kinderman views the body of Karras in the morgue, right after his fall down the steps. What a shame.” However, the missing footage was finally found in 2016, and Blatty’s original version was restored shortly before his death the next year, in 2017.82 of 84 found this interesting | Share thisFather Dyer’s joke about being addicted to lemon drops is actually present in “The Exorcist” novel, not in “Legion”, on which this movie is based. Also, the inscription in Father Morning’s room (“What we give to the poor, is what we take with us when we die”) can be read in Father Merrin’s wallet in “The Exorcist” novel. Lieutenant Kinderman’s rants about having a carp in his bathtub that won’t allow him to bathe, can be read in both “The Exorcist” and “Legion”.42 of 42 found this interesting | Share thisAsked how he is able to get in and out of jail without being seen, The Gemini Killer (Brad Dourif) replies: “It’s child’s play.” The camera cuts to a young, red-headed boy who looks a lot like the Chucky doll. Dourif provides the voice of Chucky in Child’s Play (1988) and its sequels.116 of 121 found this interesting | Share thisMorgan Creek and Carolco both wanted to make the film. William Peter Blatty decided upon Morgan Creek, after Carolco suggested the idea of a grown-up Regan McNeil giving birth to possessed twins.34 of 34 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Peter Blatty wanted the film to be titled simply “Legion”, just like his novel of the same name. The producers, however, wanted the title to be “The Exorcist III” for commercial reasons. Blatty even tried to convince them to alter it to “Exorcist 1990” in order to distance it from Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), which he despised, but had to settle for “The Exorcist III” notwithstanding.69 of 72 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Peter Blatty had to re-cast the central role of Lieutenant Kinderman, as Lee J. Cobb, who played the part in The Exorcist (1973), died in 1976. George C. Scott, who had never seen “The Exorcist”, signed up for the role after being impressed by Blatty’s “Legion” screenplay.39 of 40 found this interesting | Share thisOn the climactic exorcism scene, William Peter Blatty later said, “It’s all right, but it’s utterly unnecessary, and it changes the character of the piece.” Although at the time, Blatty told the press that he was happy to re-shoot the film’s ending and have the story climax with a frenzy of special effects, the truth is that this compromise was forced on him, against his wishes: “The original story that I sold (Morgan Creek), and that I shot, ended with Kinderman blowing away Patient X. There was no exorcism. But it was a Mexican stand-off between me and the studio. I was entitled to one preview, then they could go and do what they wanted with the picture. They gave me a preview, but it was the lowest end preview audience I have ever seen in my life. They dragged in zombies from Haiti to watch this film. It was unbelievable. But I decided, better I should do it than anyone else. I foolishly thought: I can do a good exorcism, I’ll turn this pig’s ear into a silk purse. So I did it.”24 of 24 found this interesting | Share thisSome of the scenes deleted from William Peter Blatty‘s original cut are:
- Alternate opening scene in which Kinderman views the body of Karras in the morgue after his fall down the stairs in the ending of first movie, when Kinderman leaves the morgue, heart monitor shows signs of life from the body of Karras.
- Aftermath of death scene of the first murdered priest where his dead body is shown holding his severed head while sitting.
- Longer version of the scene where Kinderman talks with priest about the murders and when demon face is shown on statue of the saint. Originally, unseen intruder decapitates the statue and places a knife in its hand.
- Exumation of Damien Karras’s body in Jesuit cemetery. Later it’s discovered that dead body is actually from Brother Fain, Jesuit who was tending Karras’s body and who disappeared 15 years ago. Although this scene is deleted, parts of it are used in new ending where Patient X/Karras is buried.
- Blatty’s original cut also didn’t have Jason Miller as Karras/Patient X in it and it had different isolation cell for scenes in which Kinderman talked with Patient X/Gemini killer. Some promotional photos show Patient X and Kinderman talking in original cell.
- New exorcism ending that Blatty had to film also had small part deleted in which Karras/Patient X is morphing through many other faces. One theatrical trailer shows this deleted scene.
36 of 37 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Peter Blatty came up with the idea for the movie right after the success of The Exorcist (1973), deciding to set it in a hospital, after hearing about a priest who entered a health facility without his surplices, and caused havoc among the patients. Since he could not convince Director William Friedkin to film that story, he went to write a book about it, which was to become “Legion”, to be adapted and directed by Blatty himself. Without Blatty or Friedkin, Warner Brothers went on to produce Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) instead.35 of 36 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Peter Blatty offered directorial responsibilities to John Carpenter, who liked his script, but backed out when it became clear that Blatty really wanted to direct the movie himself.23 of 23 found this interesting | Share thisWorking on the film, Brad Dourif recalls “We all felt really bad about it. But Blatty tried to do his best under very difficult circumstances. And I remember George C. Scott saying that the folks would only be satisfied if Madonna came out and sang a song at the end!” Dourif feels that “The original version was a hell of a lot purer, and I liked it much more. As it stands now, it’s a mediocre film. There are parts that have no right to be there.”43 of 45 found this interesting | Share thisThe lines recited by the Gemini Killer in the cell (“Death be not proud…”) are from a poem by John Donne.20 of 20 found this interesting | Share thisColleen Dewhurst, who was married to George C. Scott, was the voice of Father Kanavan’s killer, but went uncredited.29 of 30 found this interesting | Share thisGeorge C. Scott said of the film, “It’s a horror film and much more… It’s a real drama, intricately crafted, with offbeat interesting characters…and that’s what makes it genuinely frightening.”28 of 29 found this interesting | Share thisThe execution-style ending that William Peter Blatty pitched to the studio – which was in the shooting script and actually filmed – differs radically from the ending of both the novel and the first screenplay adaption developed from the novel. The novel ends with the Gemini Killer summoning Kinderman to his cell for a final speech, and then willingly dropping dead after his cruel and hated father, a Christian evangelist, dies a natural death from a heart attack. As his motive for killing was always to shame his father, the Gemini’s reason for remaining on Earth no longer exists, and he kills Karras in order to leave his host body. In Blatty’s original screenplay adaptation, the ending is similar to the novel, except that the Gemini’s death is not self-induced, but forced supernaturally, and suddenly, by the death of his father. In both novel and early screenplay, the Gemini’s motives for his murders are also given further context via a long series of flashbacks, which portray his and his brother’s childhoods, and their relationship with their alcoholic, abusive father.18 of 18 found this interesting | Share thisOriginally to be directed by William Friedkin, who had directed The Exorcist (1973), but he lost interest. Cast member George C. Scott would, however, eventually get the chance to work with Friedkin by appearing as Juror #3 in 12 Angry Men (1997). Interestingly, both Lieutenant Kinderman and Juror #3 were roles previously played by Lee J. Cobb.34 of 36 found this interesting | Share thisThe University President claims that his favorite movie is The Fly (1986). Lee Richardson, the actor who plays him, starred in The Fly II (1989).33 of 35 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Friedkin was originally attached to direct. Blatty said that “everybody wanted Exorcist III… I hadn’t written the script, but I had the story in my head…and Billy loved it.” Friedkin, however, soon left the project, due to conflicting opinions between him and Blatty on the film.15 of 15 found this interesting | Share thisThe only Exorcist sequel to re-use “Tubular Bells” in the film, as it is briefly played at the beginning.21 of 22 found this interesting | Share this20th Century Fox and Morgan Creek were afraid that Repossessed (1990), a parody of The Exorcist (1973) that also starred Linda Blair, would come out first, and ruin the chances of anyone taking this film seriously. According to Blair, The Exorcist III was rush-released ahead of Repossessed (1990), hijacking the latter’s publicity, and forcing the comedy to be released a month later than was originally intended.20 of 21 found this interesting | Share thisRegan MacNeil is mentioned only in passing in this film. In fact, the two sequels to the first Exorcist show the fates of two different sets of characters – Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) shows what happened to Regan, Sharon, and Merrin’s backstory, and mentions what Chris is doing, while this movie shows what happened to Kinderman, Dyer, and Karras.13 of 13 found this interesting | Share thisFavorite film of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.78 of 92 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Peter Blatty didn’t get along too well with George C. Scott, though for the most part they were able to put their differences aside and work together, without too much trouble.18 of 19 found this interesting | Share thisWhile this film ignores the previous sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), it never actually outright contradicts it, despite William Peter Blatty’s well-known dislike of the critically reviled sequel. In fact, the shots of the stairs where Karras died are carefully framed so as not to show the MacNeils’ former house, which was destroyed at the end of the previous film.16 of 17 found this interesting | Share thisIn an interview on the bonus features of the Collector’s Edition, Brad Dourif opens up saying the reason why Jason Miller was unavailable to reprise his role originally as Karras is because he was a severe alcoholic and had developed “wet brain”. This meant he could not memorize the two long monologues the Gemini Killer has. He says this led to him sharing the role with Miller in the theatrical cut. He would recite the monologues while Miller could handle the shorter lines. However, an audio commentary with William Peter Blatty makes no mention of this, simply saying Miller was “unavailable”.10 of 10 found this interesting | Share thisNicol Williamson, once considered by William Peter Blatty for the role of Colonel Vincent Kane in The Ninth Configuration (1980), appears in this movie as Father Morning (a late addition to the film during production).13 of 14 found this interesting | Share thisThe Director’s Cut was believed to be lost for many years. All hope seemed lost in 2007 when writer/director William Peter Blatty‘s wife issued a statement saying that the deleted footage was lost by Morgan Creek, and her husband’s cut would likely never be seen. However, in 2016, the footage via the original VHS dailies of the film were recovered and spliced into the theatrical version to get this “lost cut”.12 of 13 found this interesting | Share thisSome lobby cards show scenes that were cut from the film, such as a scene with a beheaded priest.12 of 13 found this interesting | Share thisWilliam Peter Blatty hand-picked Shakespearean-trained actor and Genie nominee Grand L. Bush to act opposite George C. Scott in the role of Sergeant Adkins.13 of 15 found this interesting | Share thisOne shot missing from the re-filmed climax – but which features in the trailer – shows Karras/the Gemini Killer “morphing” through a variety of faces. It was left out of the film, because William Peter Blatty wasn’t happy with the special effects work.13 of 15 found this interesting | Share thisEd Flanders was originally supposed to appear as the asylum warden, Dr. Temple, but assumed the role of Father Dyer, since William O’Malley (who played the part in The Exorcist (1973)) was too busy to reprise the role.12 of 14 found this interesting | Share thisLines spoken by The Gemini Killer are used as the introduction to the “Children of Bodom” songs “Follow the Reaper” and “Taste of My Scythe”. The “Cryptopsy” song “Crown of Horns” also employs a roar and dialogue heard in Cell 11.19 of 24 found this interesting | Share thisAt around the 44 minute mark when Kinderman is talking to the priest about the link between the victims, the priest says, “it could be that exorcism, the one that D. Karras performed…the one that killed him”, you can hear the laugh of the possessed Regan from the original Exorcist when she was laugh after killing father Merrin.8 of 10 found this interesting | Share thisIn addition to Patrick Ewing, there are several others associated with the nationally renowned Georgetown basketball program such as Michael Jackson (’86), Charles Smith (’89), and Jonathan Edwards (’89) walking past the chapel prior to the Father Kanavan murder scene. Also, in the scene where Father Dyer and the school President have breakfast, there’s an insert, where Head Coach John Thompson, Assistant Coaches Craig Esherick and Mike Riley, and Academic Advisor Mary Fenlon, are walking across the courtyard. William Peter Blatty is a huge fan of the Georgetown basketball program.6 of 7 found this interesting | Share thisA disclaimer at the beginning of the film explaining the difference in visual quality between some scenes reads as follows: “We are proud to present this brand new, alternate version of THE EXORCIST III. We conducted an exhaustive search through a pallet of film assets from the original shoot to re-create William Peter Blatty’s intended vision based on his book LEGION. Unfortunately, that footage has been lost to time. To that end, we have turned to VHS tapes of the film’s dailies to assemble the director’s cut. However, even some of that footage was incomplete so scenes from the theatrical re-shoot were used to fill in the gaps. The director’s cut is a composite of varying footage quality from the best available sources.”5 of 6 found this interesting | Share thisWhen Kinderman is following the disembodied voices through the church, there is a statue on the right side of the screen that looks like Joker from the Batman comics holding a knife.17 of 28 found this interesting | Share thisNicol Williamson (who plays Father Morning) is mentioned in William Peter Blatty‘s original novel “Legion”, which was adapted for this movie.7 of 10 found this interesting | Share this“Legion” is one of the rare instances in which a Director’s Cut (one hour and forty-five minutes) is shorter than the theatrical version (one hour and fifty minutes). The removal of the entire exorcism scene and the character of Father Morning contributed to that.4 of 5 found this interesting | Share thisSylvia Sidney was originally cast as Shirley, and filmed some scenes, but she was unable to continue filming her remaining scenes, and was subsequently replaced by Barbara Baxley.4 of 5 found this interesting | Share thisNew footage includes an expanded conversation with Kinderman and Father Dyer during their lunch at The Tombs, the original Karras/Gemini Killer scenes with Brad Dourif filmed on a different set than the theatrical version (some of the dialogue differs), more dialogue with Kinderman and his wife during her first scene, a brand new conversation between Kinderman and the University President discussing Father Karras’ body not being found during the exhumation and the mention of a Brother Fain who was in charge of dressing the body who disappeared shortly after, and a scene showing the exhumation of which some footage was used in the theatrical cut at the end of the film. There are two other moments lasting only seconds: a male prostitute being interrogated at the precinct near the beginning of the film and a nurse checking in on father Dyer while he is in the hospital. Some of the opening credits are in black and white rather than color.2 of 2 found this interesting | Share thisThe Director’s Cut, released in 2016, does not contain Nicol Williamson as Father Morning or Jason Miller as Karras. Only Miller’s voice whispering “Bill” can be heard as Kinderman first walks through the disturbed ward with Dr. Temple. Miller’s face in a picture on the wall in The Tombs restaurant is also replaced with Brad Dourif’s.2 of 2 found this interesting | Share thisThis was one of Colleen Dewhurst ‘s last movies, as she would die in 1990.2 of 2 found this interesting | Share thisThe Director’s Cut is a result of disagreements between Writer and Director William Peter Blatty and Morgan Creek Studios. Blatty wanted Brad Dourif to play Father Karras possessed by the Gemini Killer because Jason Miller was unavailable. He also did not want there to be an exorcism scene because there was none in his novel, and he did not want this to be a horror movie. Other arguments also persisted over the title of the film. Not wanting to call it “Legion”, the studio first opted for “Exorcist 1990”. Filming actually began under that title. They then changed it to “The Exorcist III” because of name recognition. Blatty begged them to not go with that title because “Exorcist II: The Heretic” was such a failure and he wanted distance from that. In the end, the studio won. The name “The Exorcist III” was used and Miller was brought in to be Karras because the studio felt the film needed an original cast member. Blatty, however, was able to use Dourif as the Gemini Killer showing the two personalities inside Karras.3 of 4 found this interesting | Share thisCoincidentally, Scott Wilson, who plays the priest psychiatrist in this movie, was a psychiatric patient in the movie The Ninth Configuration (1980), which was also written and directed by William Peter Blatty. In that movie, Ed Flanders was his psychiatrist.4 of 9 found this interesting | Share thisNicol Williamson (Father Morning) is probably best known as Merlin from Excalibur (1981) that’s based on Arthurian legends. John Boorman is also the director of Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). William Peter Blatty, the author of the books on which The Exorcist (1973) and Exorcist III were based, and the director of The Exorcist III (1990), hated Exorcist II, but loved Williamson and wanted to work with him.5 of 13 found this interesting | Share thisDon Gordon also appeared in The Final Conflict (1981).6 of 18 found this interesting | Share thisOne of two films released in 1990 that had two predecessors both released in the 1970s. The Godfather Part III (1990) was the other film.6 of 21 found this interesting | Share thisThe John Donne poem “Death be not proud”, as spoken by the Gemini Killer, is featured in the song “Rebel Souls” by Swedish death metal band Luciferion.3 of 9 found this interesting | Share thisEileen Brennan was originally offered the role of Nurse X.2 of 6 found this interesting | Share thisHarry Carey Jr. portrays the confessor to an elderly penitent, portrayed by Teresa Wright. This was actually not the first time they acted together; that would be in Pursued (1947). In that movie, Carey and Wright were a couple engaged to be married.2 of 6 found this interesting | Share this
Fabio: As an angel in the dream sequence.34 of 35 found this interesting | Share thisSamuel L. Jackson: As a blind man in the dream sequence. His voice is dubbed for his one line.44 of 47 found this interesting | Share thisPatrick Ewing: As the Angel of Death next to Father Dyer in the dream sequence.26 of 27 found this interesting | Share thisLarry King: As Himself in The Tombs, a local Georgetown restaurant where Kinderman has lunch with Father Dyer.19 of 22 found this interesting | Share thisC. Everett Koop: As Himself in The Tombs, a local Georgetown restaurant where Kinderman has lunch with Father Dyer.13 of 15 found this interesting | Share this
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.In addition to the demand of an exorcism scene to be included at the ending, the producers also wanted an actor from the first movie to be part of “The Exorcist III”. Jason Miller, who had played Father Karras in the first movie, and was unavailable to shoot “The Exorcist III” when principal photography started, was called to shoot a few scenes as “Patient X”. In order not to remove the work that had already been done by Brad Dourif in that role, Writer and Director William Peter Blatty decided to use footage of both actors. Thus, Jason Miller can be seen as Patient X when he’s manifesting the Karras personality, and Brad Dourif can be seen when he’s conveying the Gemini Killer personality.