Wouldn’t it be nice if– like the books– we could skip right over The Heretic and pretend this was the only Exorcist sequel shot. Sadly, this is not the case, and so this creepy film came to be obviously labeled ‘Exorcist III’ by the studio when it was released in 1990.
It was the author of the original classic, William Peter Blatty, who took position in the directors chair for this film.
Author of The Exorcist William Peter Blatty had not been in favor of Warner Brothers proceeding with an Exorcist sequel in the mid to late 70s. Despite being asked to come on board, he wisely walked away- not wanting to tamper with his characters any further. Warner Brothers went ahead anyway, and the resulting Exorcist II: The Heretic was (as we know) drastically flawed and not well received.
Years later Blatty would deliver a true sequel to his original novel — simply titled LEGION. Warner Brothers gave up production rights to studio Morgan Creek who proceeded to film Blatty’s best-selling sequel book (based on his screenplay and with him in the director’s chair. What could possibly go wrong?
In what we now can look back on as a freaky prelude to what would happen with Paul Schrader and his doomed Exorcist: The Beginning prequel project years later, the studio Morgan Creek was not happy with Blatty’s first cut of Legion. They demanded re-shoots and requested the third act stray from the novel so it could have a more ‘cinematic’ conclusion. An exorcism was to be spoon-fed to the audience, complete with fire, earthquakes and devilish snakes. The audience did not buy it and, sadly,while finding the middle of the road with critics, Legion didn’t perform as expected.
To rub some salt in the wound, once the film had bombed, Blatty says he was asked into Morgan Creeks office where they discussed reasons why it might have bombed, and he was told… “We shouldn’t have called it ‘Exorcist’ anything…”. Blatty had wanted to simply call it Legion all along.
The Director’s Cut DVD
There is much speculation about a DVD of Blatty’s original cut being made available one day. I’ll need to go back over my sources, news snippets and rumors and compile a list of possible scenarios here.
Exorcist III: Legion
The rare morph trailer:
Lobby Cards[nggallery id=2]
The Ninth Configuration website
Exorcist III: Legion on the Internet Movie Database
Exorcist III Will Turn A Few Heads by Kevin Thoms, LA Times (1990)
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