Connect with us

Home Video

‘The Exorcist III’ Director’s Cut Fulfills Original Film’s Promise

On October 25h Shout Factory become legends when they release the once considered lost Director’s Cut of The Exorcist III, a version of the film horror fans have been clamoring for since its release in 1990.

William Peter Blatty, who wrote the original The Exorcist novel and screenplay, directed the third film in the franchise that had been completely retooled by Morgan Creek. While most of the original footage was lost, a VHS workprint has been discovered that carries a lot of the footage, including much of Blatty’s vision for the film. Shout Factory’s release boasts the original title, Legion, as well as a new assembly of the film that includes said shots from the discovered VHS. So while it’s not 100% Blatty’s original vision, it’s allegedly close.

What’s so interesting about juxtaposing the two cuts is knowing that Legion is Blatty’s direct sequel to The Exorcist. Legion feels intimately connected to the 1973 classic, while the theatrical cut is an action-packed quasi-sequel that forces connections to William Friedkin’s adaptation. It’s strange, I know.

But here’s what you really want to know: just how different are the two cuts? Well, in regards to footage, there’s not a huge change. In fact, the biggest alterations come near the finale and tonally affect the entire film’s aesthetics.

First, and most profound, is Brad Dourif‘s full performance as the Gemini Killer. In the theatrical cut much of Dourif’s scenes are cut out and instead intertwined with Jason Miller returning as Father Karras (aka Patient X). As much as I enjoy Miller’s performance, Dourif’s was on another level. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as the removal of Miller only elevates the realism of Legion. In this Director’s Cut, the audience wonders, is this truly the Gemini Killer or just a madman who knows intimate details of the murders? While it becomes increasingly clear that there’s a demonic presence at work, there’s no flash or pizzaz like in the theatrical cut to take the audience out of the moment.

Furthering this conversation, the hugely intimate moment with Dourif changes the finale, as there’s no exorcism. Instead, Kinderman (George C. Scott) makes a similar sacrifice as Father Karras, which brings the story full circle, while also grounding it in the roots of the original story. It’s also much more unnerving, while the theatrical cut feels more directed at the early 1990’s audience.

Is one better than the other? Not really. They’re really just different takes on the same story. Blatty has even openly stated that he thinks the final version is a better one, although it’s hard to take anything away from his true vision that’s shockingly more visceral.

Personally, I’d watch whatever version I’m in the mood for. One will deliver all of the crazy gory effects and land some punches, while the other will get under your skin and leave you with a knot in the pit of your stomach. I do believe that the Director’s Cut is a true sequel and should be watched immediately after a viewing of The Exorcist, while the theatrical cut will remain one of the most interesting and fun horror sequels of all time.

Get the full details on the Shout Factory release by clicking here.




  • Grandpa Fred

    So it’s really different and is the version fans have wanted, but it’s not really different from what’s been released already. Got it.

  • PsychoMantis18

    Brad, you need to just let the others write; you are neither coherent or literate.

    • Matt

      “Those who live in glass houses…..”

      • PsychoMantis18

        Yup, you’ve applied the saying now try justifying it.

        Or is it just more brainless criticism?

        • Matt

          Just brainless criticism, similar to your critique of this article.

          • PsychoMantis18

            Not similar at all – my criticisms are founded, as can be seen in his poorly written article. How have I been incoherent and illiterate?

  • john

    Got this Thursday. Watched it immediately.

    I was a little disappointed, to be honest. (Which is my fault for having any sort of expectations about what this might be.)

    It’s basically the theatrical cut minus the exorcism, minus Jason Miller, and plus more Dourif (not a bad thing) and hyper extended “interrogation” scenes between Scott and Dourif.

    Those extended scenes felt more like a play than a movie and on their own have absolutely nothing wrong with them. As part of a film, I thought they slowed the whole thing down far too much without culminating in a satisfying pay off.

    But, it’s nice to see everything I loved about this movie– the dark sense of humor, the nurse scene, the creepy statue shots, the acting, the dynamic between Dyer/Kinderman is always a part of the movie no matter what cut.

    I will say, some of the additions made the connections between the Train Station dream and the main plot a little more obvious to me. But maybe I’ve been watching the movie a little too passively all these years and this made me take note.

    In any event, another amazing disc from Scream Factory. Happy I purchased it but I’ll probably find myself sticking to the theatrical and choosing it to show newcomers to the film.

  • Flu-Like Symptoms

    This puts a guy like me who hasn’t even seen the theatrical cut in a situation. Hmm…. which one to watch first.

    • Creepshow

      Same here. I was waiting for this to come out so I could buy it and finally see the film. Now I don’t know what the hell to do.

      • john

        Join the rest of us! Theatrical and then Director’s.

        I promise this is not like Almost Famous vs Untitled or Kingdom of Heaven’s Director’s Cut.

        Enjoy the Director’s Cut as a supplement to the version that’s been around for decades. The additions are absolutely a bit of amazing acting/writing but they create a less satisfying experience overall.

        • Creepshow

          Cool, thanks a lot man!

      • J Jett

        Creepshow…JOIN US! WE ARE LEGION!!! YOU MUST JOIN US (in loving this movie!). 🙂

        • Creepshow

          But..but..I’m frightened. You guys are scary. lol

          • Saturn

            It’s okay Creepy, I’ll tuck you in and turn off the lights….

          • Creepshow

            Thank you. And I’d greatly appreciate it, if you left the lights ON.

      • I was thinking the same thing. I guess, either way it’ll just be cool enough to own a nice Blu of 3.

        • Creepshow

          Have you seen part 3?

          • Oh yeah. I love it, but I was thinking perhaps this release would somehow be akin to the Nightbreed DC.

          • Creepshow

            I’m getting ready to sit down, and subject myself to The Greasy Strangler. I feel disgusting already.

          • Well, do let me know what you think. I’m actually trying to do a 31 films in 31 days challenge for Halloween (along with the rest of the Internet). If you give it your seal of approval, I might watch it next week. I have Fridays reserved for new releases…because I’m a dork and had to “theme” each day of the week. lol.

          • Creepshow

            I’ll give you my blunt opinion as always.

          • I would expect nothing less.

          • Creepshow

            Just finished with Greezy. Now where do I start? OK, here’s the skinny. It wasn’t as repulsive as I thought it would be. There’s not really much “horror” gross out stuff, there’s just gross stuff (mainly old man dong, but you just get use to it). The movie did make me laugh quite a few times, and the soundtrack is goofy as fuck. To sum it up, it gave me a really warped, demented Napoleon Dynamite vibe (I know, this probably makes zero sense). The father and son cracked me up like I thought they would. And it was only $4.99 on VOD in HD. For 5 bucks, I didn’t feel robbed.

          • I’m still not sold but I’m still somehow intrigued. I’m sure I’ll wind up watching it before long.

            And, because I know you’ll give me honest feedback, I’ve recently started writing for the site Halloween Love. If you have some free time would you swing over there and check out a few of my articles. I’d really like your opinion.

          • Creepshow

            You got it.

          • J Jett

            Zach, i just read a couple of your articles there! i’ll be checking in from now on! 🙂

          • Aw, thanks. That means a lot.

          • The Drucifer

            It sadly isn’t but it well worth checking out for Dourifs performance alone

      • Just realized I misread your comment completely. Whoops. You should definitely check it out, though.

    • john

      I’d say theatrical. It’s a more satisfying movie experience. From both a story perspective and technical presentation. This director’s cut has large sections in VHS quality. Also, some of the sound mixing towards the end is rather sloppily done and changes some of the holdover HD, theatrical sequences.

      The best parts of the film (in my opinion) can be found in both versions but this Director’s Cut is more a window into what MIGHT have been rather than a true, blue replacement for the theatrical.

      Also, I had no idea Blatty preferred the theatrical. Interesting to read that.

      • Schwifty

        I like having the option to view either version as a movie, rather than just the deleted scenes, even though the quality is questionable. I went through the same decision with MANHUNTER and ROCK & RULE … though my cut-off point was Donner’s SUPERMAN II cut. I’ve never watched it and never plan on doing so. Fortunately, I was never a huge fan of the theatrical version, so skipping Donner’s version, as great as it may suggest his version of SUPERMAN II could have been, wasn’t a big deal.

        • Creepshow

          Donner’s version does change a few things. There is no Eiffel Tower elevator bomb in his version. Donner made consequences for one of the nukes Superman threw into space in the first one, and it made total sense. But unfortunately they were filming 1 & 2 back to back, and Donner got canned.

    • Schwifty

      I hadn’t seen EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING yet when they released DOMINION and wound up watching DOMINION, then THE BEGINNING back to back. As much as everybody complained about THE BEGINNING and praised DOMINION, I have to say, for me, Renny Harlin’s version was the better movie. More cinematic, better-made and compelling, especially as an EXORCIST prequel. I have a feeling the reverse will be true here.

      I have always been a huge fan of EXORCIST III, but I also loved the book “Legion” and always felt like (and was aware that) all the “exorcist” stuff was crammed in after the fact. Everything involving the “Father Morning” character is especially obvious, since he has almost nothing to do with the rest of the movie or interacts with anyone or anything until the very end. It’ll be great to have both versions — I feel like this review is going to be dead-on. You’ll probably like either version.

    • The Drucifer


  • john

    Want to say, I’m being an advocate on this board for the Theatrical Cut but please don’t take this as a slam against the disc. So glad this finally came together. Not a single regret about purchasing this disc. Scream Factory gets us and they should be rewarded for making this happen. I hope the disc sells well!

  • J Jett

    i just got my copy (poster included!) yesterday! i’m going to watch it tonight.

  • Khy

    I have never seen the original Exorcist.
    Yes, you can take my horror card away. How the hell did I miss that over all these years- no idea.

    • Creepshow

      It is certainly not a brisk 90 minute horror movie either. They make sure to fuck with you for a long, long time.

      • Khy

        I was never allowed to watch it. That was the ONLY horror film my parents said no to.
        Omen, Rosemary’s Baby ect were all fine oddly enough lol

        • Creepshow

          The Excorsist was actually shown on network TV in the 80’s. I freaked out as a kid after seeing some of it. My mother lied and told me the girl was epileptic. Because she knew if she mentioned the devil, she would’ve had a bigger train-wreck on her hands.

          • J Jett

            WAIT A MINUTE!! you got freaked out watching the story based on my life? yes, i may not have looked my best when i was sitting on the bed with my head turning completely around and yes, my voice may have sounded a teeny tiny bit crackly/gravely but i still looked very pretty with my sweaty/greasy face and hair and scarred face!! 🙂

          • Creepshow

            It wasn’t so much your appearance. It was more of a certain action, that you said my mother performs in Hell.

          • The Drucifer

            Was it all the canoodling? So much canoodling in hell…oh you meant the cocksucking…

          • J Jett

            i apologize for those comments about your mother. i was slightly irritable that day. 🙂

          • Creepshow

            That crucifix isn’t meant to go there ya know.

          • J Jett

            it was an “accident”!! it fell there (many times!) completely by accident! 🙂

            btw, have you checked out the THE EXORCIST tv show on Fox? it’s actually very good! last night’s ep has a kind of sort of crucifixion type scene that had me like “NO WAY!”.

          • Creepshow

            I have not. I really can’t get into a lot of TV shows. Instead, I assaulted my senses with The Greasy Strangler last night.

          • J Jett

            LOL. i read your review below. “Old man dong”?….i may have to check that movie out! (joking!). 🙂

        • The Drucifer

          It’s a great film. getting to see it theaters when they rerelease dead was a check on my bucketlist. Still holds its power and if you have a decent audio setup crank it up to 11

    • Halloween season is the perfect time to give it a spin.

    • Cássio Amaral

      It’s never too late to watch a masterpiece such as The Exorcist!

  • WOLF

    Game changer?

    • john

      More of a slightly-alt version. It’s more meditative. Slower. More about the acting and dialogue in the 2nd half than the theatrical.

      I think maybe it was a little too stripped down to be honest. After the aggressive, exciting, twisty first 3/4’s, the last 1/4 becomes just 2 guys in a cell for the most part. Probably intentional.

      Feels more like an independent film or something.

      Not bad by any means. Definitely worth seeing. Said it here earlier but everything I like about the original is still included.. well, except maybe Jason Miller towards the very end of the movie. That part makes the studio mandated reshoots of the original worth it to me.

      But I think the first 3/4s are the strongest parts of both versions anyway.

      • joewaters

        The dialogue is the best part of this movie I love it and can quote most of George C Scotts lines and I am so excited to see more of that in the legion cut!

  • Eddie Dutra

    In other Exorcist news: Fox Network’s The Exorcist will be cancelled before October 25th.

    • J Jett

      you’re probably right but it’s a shame because the show is surprisingly good.

    • Weresmurf

      Indeed. It’s on the wrong bloody network to begin with. By god, I hope Netflix picks it up. The production values are amazing, the show is superb. It deserves a longer life AND a better home than goddamn Fox…

    • I seriously hope not, the show is blowing my expectations out of the water. Hopefully it gets picked up by Netflix or something.. to be honest I’m surprised it’s on Fox in the first place. The production values and writing are way beyond anything else on the network.

      • Trippy Leatherface

        Episode 3 was lame

  • joewaters

    I need to own this like now! I’ve waited decades to see this. Who do I have to kill to get a copy!!???

  • Otterlee

    Can’t wait! I’ve read 3 copies of Legion to tatters, and as much as I love the “official” movie anything that’s closer to the book is going to become an instant favorite.

  • Very much looking forward to this as a fan of the novel, as much as I like The Exorcist III, the studio fuckery is painfully obvious.

    As a side note, the TV series is turning out to be surprisingly good, granted my expectations were low. So far the writing and performances have been great, especially for a FOX show.

  • Scotty James Savile

    “Once considered lost”. Yea… sure… get everyone, like me, to buy the Blu-ray boxset, then “find” this copy and release it. Lol.

    • sblast13

      Yeah, but it took the likes of Shout!Factory to actually find it and get it out to the world. Looks like Warner Bros and Morgan Creek didn’t look hard enough for the material, even if it came from the likes of a VHS workprint copy.

      • lostboy408

        That’s because Warner most likely didn’t give a shit

        • sblast13

          Considering Exorcist III wasn’t even released by then when it first came out, that wouldn’t surprise me at all.


        The source of the footage is Blatty’s own personal VHS copy of the workprint that he’s had for years. The original material is likely gone and Warner had nothing got to do with the film..

  • No chance of a UK release then?

  • knight _ owl

    “First, and most profound, is Brad Dourif‘s full performance as the Gemini Killer. In the theatrical cut much of Dourif’s scenes are cut out and instead intertwined with Jason Miller returning as Father Karras (aka Patient X). As much as I enjoy Miller’s performance, Dourif’s was on another level.”

    In the Director’s Cut, Brad Dourif did not play the Gemini Killer, he played a recast of Father Damien Karras, just like George C. Scott played a recast of Kinderman, and Ed Flanders played a recast of Father Dyer.

    In the Director’s Cut, we don’t know what the Gemini Killer looks like.

    They made Brad Dourif the Gemini Killer, in the re-shoots for the theatrical cut, when they got Jason Miller back as Damien Karras.

  • Jeff Rittenour

    I just found uout about and almost shit my pants. Gotta have it NOW! Love the theatrical, one of the truly creepiest movies ever.

More in Home Video