HALLOWEEN 2K16: “The Exorcist III” Director’s Cut Blu Ray Is Out

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blogged about this in January when Morgan Creek had sent a series of cryptic tweets regarding the possibility of a long-awaited director’s cut of The Exorcist III. I followed the story for a few more months and then it appeared that all was for nothing. You could imagine my surprise this morning when I saw Shout! Factory’s release being advertised. It totally slipped my mind. People had already pre-ordered, and if they did, they would have it today. I just placed my order now, so it won’t be coming for a few days, but I am so excited. The Exorcist III is one of my favorite films. It has been much maligned over the years, but mainly because of the studio’s interference with writer-director William Peter Blatty’s vision. That vision will be included in this new release.

No, we are not just getting a director’s cut, but two actual films. There is the theatrical version and then Blatty’s version, which will be titled Legion after his novel of the same name. The war between he and Morgan Creek is well-documented and just adds to the story. Not to rehash previous posts, but The Exorcist III seemed destined for box office failure. The second installment of the Exorcist series was such a dud that it ruined the market for another. While the finished product was actually quite good, audiences complained about the exorcism scene feeling “tacked on”, which is exactly what it was. We will finally get to see what Blatty had intended: the film Legion, with no exorcism and no Jason Miller Father Karras. Indeed, this will be a new movie altogether. Below are the technical specs of the release:

DISC ONE: The Exorcist III (Theatrical Cut)

      • NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive
      • Vintage Featurette
      • Deleted Scene/Alternate Takes/Bloopers
      • Deleted Prologue
      • Vintage Interviews (Featuring Behind-The-Scenes Footage) With Writer/Director William Peter Blatty, George C. Scott, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Grand L. Bush, Executive Producer James G. Robinson, Production Designer Leslie Dilley, Larry King And C. Everett Koop
      • Theatrical Trailers
      • TV Spots
      • Photo Galleries

DISC TWO: Legion (Original Director’s Cut) 105 minutes

    • NEW Audio Interview With Writer/Director William Peter Blatty
    • NEW A “Wonderfull” Time – Interviews With Producer Carter DeHaven, Actors Clifford David And Tracy Thorne And Production Assistant Kara Reidy
    • NEW Signs Of The Gemini – An Interview With Brad Dourif
    • NEW The Devil In The Details – Interview With Production Designer Leslie Dilley, Assistant Designer Daren Dochterman And Illustrator Simon Murton
    • NEW Music For A Padded Cell – An Interview With Composer Barry DeVorzon
    • NEW All This Bleeding – A Look At The Re-shoot And Makeup Effects With Production Manager Ronald Colby, Editor Todd Ramsay, Effects Artists William Forsche, Mike Smithson, Brian Wade And Actor/Body Double Charles Powell

As I have not seen the new release and have not yet read any reviews (to not spoil it for myself), I must warn people that the visual quality of the director’s cut may be poorer than we would expect from a Blu-Ray. I detailed why in this post earlier in the year, and below I’ve included a snippet based on my experience with director’s cut releases over the years:

The other director’s cut I have followed intimately (and again, know a few people involved) is the release of John Wayne’s 1960 film The Alamo (also known as the “roadshow” version). The situation there could be similar here, regarding how the cut film actually looks (due to storage and the care that went into it). Where has the footage been all this time? We don’t know and might never find out, but it becomes more complicated if the film’s cells themselves were not properly stored. I personally don’t care if the footage contains a few grains or even some popping in the sound, but from a production company standpoint, they will most likely not release a film if the cuts back and forth between old and new scenes show a highly visible difference. Case in point, The Alamo. The director’s cut was only ever released on VHS years ago. After years of refusal, MGM finally looked into it recently and determined the transfer would not be good enough for clearer, HD mediums. The cut footage had deteriorated so badly due to lackadaisical storage and the difference was outrageously bad on DVD and Blu Ray. VHS was the only medium where the quality difference was minimal, and even that you could notice the cut scenes slightly even if you had never seen it before. TCM shows the film every once in a while on TV in its entirety, and the result is the same as the VHS. They do not broadcast it in HD even on their HD channel due to that issue.

No matter what the quality of this product is, I don’t care. I want to see this movie. I read The Exorcist and Legion when I was in high school. I loved them both. Being a fan of horror and literature, it brought a whole world alive for me. I was amazed to see how close the 1973 film was to Blatty’s work, which made it all the more upsetting to see the studio botch his story in 1990. He is 88 years old as of this post, and so I commend Morgan Creek and Shout! Factory for finally allowing this living legend to have one last chance to right a wrong that was committed on him more than 25 years earlier. I can’t wait for my film to arrive. This is a great day for horror fans.

More posts in my HALLOWEEN 2K16 column can be found here

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