As befitting its status as part of a commercial film series, Exorcist III has always been represented in some form on home video. It has seen VHS, DVD and blu-ray versions… but it never got the special edition treatment in any of those prior releases. Scream Factory recently picked it up for the “Collector’s Edition” treatment and the result is an impressive, generously stuffed 2 blu-ray edition that was obviously a labor of love for its producers.
As is the new custom with Scream Factory’s “Collector’s Edition” line, Exorcist III has been given a fresh transfer. In this case, it is a new 2K scan from the interpostive elements. The results look gorgeous, handling both shadowy interiors and bright daytime exteriors with a nice depth of color and detail. Lossless 5.1 and 2.0 stereo mixes are included: both are worthy options but the 5.1 puts on a real sonic show for your surround speaker setup with a nice use of rear speakers for sound effects and a good multi-speaker treatment of the shivery Barry DeVorzon score.
Even better, there are scads of bonus features across both discs. Here’s a look at what you can expect:
Vintage Featurette (7:13): an EPK-style piece with plentiful soundbites from William Peter Blatty, George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, etc. It plays up the reputation of the first Exorcist film and the attendant excitement of Blatty returning to the series.
Deleted Scene, Alternate Takes And Bloopers: There are some interesting added snips of the killer here, a guest appearance by a key crew member as a clown (!) and an amusing moment where Brad Dourif’s menacing delivery comes undone after a flub.
Deleted Prologue (2:44): This will be of interest to fans as it doesn’t appear in either cut of the film included on this set. Without giving away too many details, it directly connects the end of the first film to Exorcist III.
Vintage Interviews (38:35): a generous reel of video interviews that were utilized for the vintage featurette seen elsewhere on this disc. Not only do you get more from Blatty, Flanders and Scott but you also get Larry King and C. Everett Koop popping up to explain their cameos in the film. An interesting thread throughout the interviews is the participants’ different philosophical musings on the subject of religion.
Other Disc 1 Extras: two trailers, a half-dozen t.v. spots and three image galleries that cover behind-the-scenes shots, lobby cards/posters and stills.
Director’s Cut: Vault elements could not be located for the edited footage so the disc’s producers have put together a composite that utilizes their new transfer, SD video versions of deleted scenes and a few bits of reshoot footage that are reappropriated to fit the director’s intended version. It’s an interesting approximation of what could have been, with several changes in dialogue and the deletion of the grafted-on “Father Morning” subplot and gratuitious climactic FX. It’s easy to see why its subtlety scared the executives but it’s great for Blatty fans to finally see what is as close to his original vision as can be achieved today.
Audio Interview With William Peter Blatty: this feature-length audio interview, conducted by Felsher, is presented as a bonus sound option for the director’s cut and is worth every moment for fans of the film’s writer/director. He discusses how he came to write The Exorcist, his thoughts on Exorcist II, his battles with executives, his relationship with Scott and thoughts on the finished film’s finale, just to name a few topics. Felsher is an appreciative and inquisitive interviewer and subtly steers the conversation while giving Blatty plenty of time to ruminate.
A “Wonderfull” Time (24:30): the first of a quintet of new featurettes produced by Heather Buckley and Michael Felsher that in total add up to the equivalent of a feature-length documentary on Exorcist III. This first segment offers a kind of overview with several key cast and crew members offering their feelings about the original Exorcist book and film before moving on to their appraisal of Exorcist III. There are plenty of tales of being spooked by the original book/film, some fun anecdotes about Scott’s gruff mode of behavior and a hilarious takedown of Exorcist II by Brad Dourif.
Signs Of The Gemini (17:42): A choice sitdown with actor Brad Dourif that gets into the troubles behind-the-scenes as well as his approach to a complex role. He offers a sympathetic take on Scott’s legendarily ornery nature, reveals why he “shared” his role with Jason Miller and offers a frank assessment of the final version. His most interesting material deals with his acting process, including the challenges of dealing with epic dialogue and how humanity was the key to playing an evil role.
The Devil In The Details (18:03): a segment devoted to production design, including designer Leslie Dilley and assistant Daren Dochterman. You’ll learn some neat details about a set that was built to create a forced perspective, those crazy-looking shears that figure prominently in the film and the challenges of the “heaven” dream sequence.
Music For A Padded Cell (15:16): a chat with composer Barry DeVorzon. He starts by discussing his longstanding friendship with Blatty and working in the L.A. music business before getting into some interesting details about his Exorcist III score. He presents his theory of film composing, how he favored electronics over orchestral stylings and the ways he went about getting the unfamiliar sounds he wanted.
All This Bleeding (28:49): the final segment of the documentary delves into the film’s reshoots from the point of view of production staff and FX team. Editor Todd Ramsay and production supervisor Ronald Colby offer frank assessments of Blatty’s problems dealing with the executives. A variety of FX team members offer explanations of different effects in the finale and how the actors coped with the physical demands (there’s a nice tribute to Nicol Williamson). There’s even some revealing comments from Jason Miller’s double.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Exorcist III, click here.