Since The Exorcist was one of the most frightening films ever and Exorcist II one of the goofiest, chances favored The Exorcist III to fall somewhere in between, though not nearly far enough up the scale to rival the original.
The Devil and the Church have clashed in too many other pics since with increasingly ingenious ways to burst bodies, leaving director-writer William Peter Blatty [adapting his own novel, Legion] with all mood and no meat. Much too often, he lingers under flickering lights in dark corridors where nothing happens.
It’s been 15 years since Father Karras battled the Devil for the little girl and ended up dead at the bottom of the stairway. Now his old policeman friend (George C. Scott) is confronted with a series of sacrilegious murders bearing the trademarks of a killer executed about the same time the priest died.
Anyway, there’s a guy in chains over at the nuthouse who sometimes appears to Scott as Karras (Jason Miller) and sometimes as the executed killer (Brad Dourif), and it’s all very confusing.
It would be downright incomprehensible, in fact, if Dourif didn’t do such a dandy job in explaining things in a couple of long, madman monologs.