William Peter Blatty’s Sequel

Many horror fans consider The Exorcist III the only worthwhile sequel to the stunning classic in a franchise laden with several ham-handed studio efforts. While it’s incredibly unlikely any movie could ever match the narrative power and indelible frights found in Friedkin’s The Exorcist, often ranked the scariest movie ever made, there is something to be said for William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III as a masterful horror film in its own right.

Blatty, the creative vision behind the original Exorcist, cleanly adapts his own 1983 novel Legion for the screen. Featuring a sublime George C. Scott and a haunting performance from a young Brad Dourif, the filmmaker emulates the heralded tone and aesthetics of Friedkin’s classic without feeling like a retread. The 1990 sequel nearly erases the complete blunder which was Exorcist II: The Heretic, completely ignored for good reason. Gone is Linda Blair and the rest of the Exorcist’s original cast.

… filmmaker William Peter Blatty serves up the only possible resolution keeping in spirit with The Exorcist

Executed fifteen years ago for his crimes, someone has begun a series of demonic murders which recall the Gemini Killer’s patterns. Once a close friend of Father Damien Karras, Police Lt. Kinderman (George C. Scott) investigates the grisly killings occurring around Georgetown. Soon the killer begins targeting people connected to the detective.

A hospitalized mental patient is discovered who claims he’s the Gemini Killer. What connection does this lunatic have to the deceased Karras, who tragically passed away fifteen years ago in a horrific exorcism? It’s a clash of good versus evil as Blatty unwinds many of the same themes found in The Exorcist. History doesn’t necessarily repeat itself but it often rhymes.

The last strong film in his distinguished Hollywood career, an elderly George C. Scott lends the same gravitas Max von Sydow brought to The Exorcist as Father Merrin. There’s a weathered look on Scott’s face which tells you he’s waging a losing war. It’s a supremely understated portrayal of a skeptical detective, the soul of Blatty’s film. The jaded detective isn’t religious, dealing in the harsh evils he encounters on his job. Kinderman is weary, weighed down by the brutal murders he’s attempting to solve in Georgetown. The demonic forces at work play on Kinderman’s friendship with Karras, psychologically torturing the detective.

Dourif is a wonder as the Gemini Killer, a skilled young actor matching up against a heavyweight George C. Scott performance and holding his own. It’s a memorable turn providing the necessary juice for Blatty’s endgame and giving Kinderman a substantial rival. There’s a young Scott Wilson in the cast, years before his time on The Walking Dead.

The Exorcist III never received much love from critics, largely unhappy with its wildly theatrical climax after a taut cat-and-mouse conflict for the first ninety minutes. William Peter Blatty was also unhappy with the theatrical version, assembling his so-called “Legion” cut back in 2016 for home video. Additions include more dialogue with the Gemini Killer and small character bits which focus on the tug-of-war between Kinderman and the killer.

The biggest change in Legion is a nearly complete removal of the FX-driven confrontation between Father Morning and a possessed Gemini Killer near the end. Blatty apparently agreed with the critics about its tackiness. Delivering a far more understated climax in his director’s cut, implying things rather than showing them.

William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III is a misunderstood film, steeped in the same internal conflict which drove the original Exorcist. It’s a battle of faith as much a horror movie, smoothly told within the confines of a twisted crime procedural. George C. Scott is perfect as Kinderman, a good man repulsed by the evil forces he encounters. Driven beyond his breaking point, filmmaker William Peter Blatty serves up the only possible resolution keeping in spirit with The Exorcist.

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”

Mark 5:9


A 2K scan of The Exorcist III was struck for Scream Factory’s 2016 Blu-ray version, which improved on the woeful edition put out by Warner. Scream Factory upgrades the movie on UHD using a new 4K scan from the original camera negative struck just last year. It makes a wonderful addition to Scream Factory’s growing line of steady UHD efforts.

The film’s moody and occasionally gritty cinematography looks excellent at 2160p resolution, boasting a Dolby Vision layer that optimally captures the different shadow densities and deep black levels with filmic fidelity. The 1.85:1 presentation is a winner, offering superb grain reproduction and a measured color grading which preserves the filmmaker’s intentions. A fine contrast and venerable colors make for a real leap in video quality.

Only the theatrical version is available on UHD, running an uncut 109 minutes on a triple-layer UHD. Several scenes present in the Legion cut had their negatives destroyed and only exist in standard definition video quality, hence its presence strictly on Blu-ray.

Unfiltered with loads of fine detail and real depth, the crisp definition breathes new life into the establishing shots filmed around Georgetown. Maybe a tick pushed towards magenta with warmer flesh-tones, the HDR brings out greater clarity and variety in the climactic confrontation. The film elements are in excellent condition with no defects. There is a slight, and I mean very slight, presence of ringing in a couple scenes.

The Exorcist III wasn’t a movie I expected to benefit greatly from 4K but the improvements over Blu-ray are clear. This UHD represents stellar work by Scream Factory, a faithful transfer which pulls everything possible from the negative in occasionally striking picture quality.


5.1 DTS-HD MA and 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio are provided on the UHD, claimed to be the result of new 2023 restorations from the original masters. Both the theatrical stereo and 5.1 surround mixes are solid efforts with nice dynamics. The score has aged well, often spread across the entire soundstage. Some cues are placed in the rears, though the discrete action is far less engaging than modern mixes.

Dialogue is cleanly intelligible, important in a movie with sudden jumps in volume and intensity. Effects are backed with some force and presence. Immersion is fairly heavy for a 1990 production, aided by the clever sound design and spacious front soundstage.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.


Outside of the A/V boost, Scream Factory simply ports their excellent revue of supplements from their 2016 Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray to this new three-disc UHD set. The theatrical cut is left by itself on the UHD with no extra features. The two Blu-rays carry all the supplements, including a wonderful feature-length documentary on the film’s making.

It’s a packed set well worth your time, diving into a criminally underrated horror film. The included Blu-rays also contain William Peter Blatty’s preferred Legion cut of the film, reconstructed from several different sources. This is the definitive package for The Exorcist III, offering things you simply can’t get anywhere else outside of a region-locked release from Arrow Films over in the UK.

A slipcover is available in early pressings. As with almost all Scream Factory discs, the included Blu-rays are region A. UHD has no region coding.

Disc Two (Blu-ray):

Deleted Scene/Alternate Takes/Bloopers
Deleted Prologue
Vintage interviews (38:35 in SD) – A litany of participants including writer/director William Peter Blatty, George C. Scott, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders and others.
Vintage Featurette
Theatrical Trailers
TV Spots
Radio Spots
Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery
Movie Posters and Lobby Cards Photo Gallery

Disc Three (Blu-ray):

William Peter Blatty’s director’s cut Legion (104:58 in HD) – Assembled from the interpositive and select scenes from VHS dallies, this version only made available in 2016 was personally approved by William Peter Blatty. It hews closely to his original intentions for the movie.

Audio interview with director/writer William Peter Blatty – It plays as a commentary track during the movie.

Death, Be Not Proud: The Making of The Exorcist III (104:20 in HD) – Feature-length, five-chapter documentary on the making of the film featuring interviews with actor Brad Dourif, production designer Lesley Dilley, composer Barry De Vorzon, producer Carter DeHaven and more. They are Chapter One: A Wonderful Time, Chapter Two: Signs of the Gemini, Chapter Three: The Devil in the Details, Chapter Four: Music for a Padded Cell, Chapter Five: All This Bleeding.

Full disclosure: This UHD has been provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial standards. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our About Us page for further information.

The Exorcist III
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


William Peter Blatty gives us the sequel the original Exorcist demanded with star George C. Scott delivering a magnificently understated performance

User Review
4 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 55 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

One thought on "The Exorcist III 4K UHD Review"

  1. The Phantom Stranger says:

    A detailed break-down of the key differences between Blatty’s 2016 director’s cut and the original theatrical cut:


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