Ahhhh… Easter. The day millions of good people gather around, do some worshipping, do some fancy eating and maybe send the kids after some vinegar-dyed eggs in celebration of The Big Resurrection. Here at the IPC, if
Wait, what? Ah yes. Last week we celebrated The Big Resurrection with a visit to one of my favorite movies ever, The Return of the Living Dead. But wait – we can’t forget about those wild and crazy Eastern Orthodox folks who still run on Julian Time and not that insanely popular Gregorian Calendar. What! Holy Shit! Yessir – Eastern Easter is a week later (usually) so what can we do to have a second get together? How about a revisit to another one of my favorite movies ever? Let’s take a look and see what The Devil and his buddies are up to in The Exorcist III.
THE EXORCIST 3 (1990) FIVE TOP HATS
I am sure that this movie probably doesn’t fall into the top ten of most people’s “favorites” lists but this movie really did the trick for me. Perhaps that’s because (yes I know already) I’ve never seen The Exorcist (I know) or because I thought “Exorcist 2” sucked ass but when I went and saw this in the theater – I loved it. Twenty-two years and dozens of viewings later, it still totally held up for me and I stand behind the testament that is my ranking. I mean George C. Scott is incredible in this, so is Jason Miller (reprising the role I didn’t see him in, in the first movie) as Damian Karras and, if you didn’t believe in him in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, Brad Dourif (the most underrated actor ever) is awesome. I loved and still love the moody atmosphere and there’s not a lot of shitty, unnecessary dialogue; the words that come out here all have meaning and purpose. I liked how they used long, still silences to create tension and even if you don’t agree with my spectacular view of this – you know you didn’t see two of those things coming in that hospital – brilliant! The only thing I could possible gripe about in this is that it’s kind of dated with Patrick Ewing (remember him?), Fabio (is he still popular?) and Samuel L Jackson as a blind dude before he was SAMUEL MOTHER FUCKING JACKSON. Oh yeah, and don’t miss Larry King before he was a withered prune getting into that booth in the restaurant.
So what is this all about? Even though I haven’t seen all of The Exorcist, I am sure most of the planet knows what it is all about and is familiar with the big jump out the window and roll down the flight of stairs scene. Well that was father Karras (mentioned above) and every year on the anniversary of his death, George C Scott’s Lt. Kinderman and Karras’ old priest friend Father Dyer (another excellent performance by Ed Flanders) cheer each up by going to the movies to see “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In a “pre” story, a young boy has been found, his head severed, his blood drained and his body crucified – all the tell tell signs of a murderer put to death (also) fifteen years prior called The Gemini Killer.
As the cops try and figure out who killed the kid, we get an extremely creepy scene in a confessional involving an elderly lady and a priest, I really can’t do justice to the way the director (also the writer of the book and the screenplay) overlayed different images and sounds throughout this entire movie, but this scene is pretty compelling, to say the least. Soon Kinderman and his squad are looking into the death of the priest, identifying more trademarks of the Gemini Killer and Father Dyer ends up in the hospital. In one of the most effective shots of the outside of a house at night in movie history (IMO), a phone rings, Kinderman picks it up, there is a lengthy silence and Scott growls “What are you telling me?”
What they were telling him is this: Dyer has been decapitated, his blood emptied into a very nicely structured arrangement of jars next to his bed, “not a drop of it spilled”, except for the note written in blood above the bed: “It’s a wonderfull life”. That double “L” is also a trademark of the Gemini, see. After an interrogation with a very “Nurse Ratchet-y” lady, clues lead Kinderman to the “dangerous” ward where he hears someone whisper his name. Looking into the room that came from – it turns out that its none other than Father Damian Karras himself. How can this be? He’s dead from rolling down those stairs so long ago. Well, the explanation for this turns out to be wicked and the rest of this movie plays out wonderfully.
Inside of Karras is the evil, daddy hating soul of the Gemini and they very cleverly swap between Kinderman “seeing” Karras (Miller) talking (because that’s who is physically sitting there) and Dourif stealing the show as the serial killer – executing (literally) revenge on The Church for The Exorcism that occurred in The Exorcist (using Karras’ body as the the tool). But how does he get out of that straightjacket and out in the street to commit these heinous beheadings? Well – that’s part of the story and if you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil. I’ll just say that, obviously, I love this movie, the cast was excellent, the score was entirely effective and the whole thing has never disappointed me.
On a last note, I know that a lot of folks like to have a good bitch about the ending – that: “it’s the bullshit studio ending that no one wanted!!!” and “this is how Hollywood ruins everything!!!” and “fuck you movies!!” (j/k kidding on that last one) but I liked it. I actually thought it was pretty cool. In fact, I really enjoyed the last scenes in that cell where Scott is pinned up against the wall delivering his spit filled lines and the whole “Now Bill now!! Shoot me now!! Kill me now!!” thing. It got me going – kind of like this super hot beef jerky I am eating right now – whew. Anyway – I loved it then and still do.