Goon Review – The Zodiac Killer (1971)

Sometimes, the reason behind how or why a movie got made is far more interesting than the movie itself. Take, for instance, The Island of Dr. Moreau: Total trainwreck of a movie that started with blaming director Richard Stanley, an incredibly talented filmmaker, for any issue that arose (including monsoons that delayed production). Throw in a coke-fueled Val Kilmer who didn’t get along with Stanley and was pressuring the studio to replace him, mixed in with a no fucks left to give Marlon Brando who refused to learn his lines and was constantly making script changes. The film actually has a documentary that’s longer than the film and far more interesting. It’s such childish bullshit and so insane that you have to wonder how shit gets made sometimes. And then you have 1971’s The Zodiac Killer that was actually made in attempt to catch the actual Zodiac Killer.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, desperate times call for desperate measures and apparently the Zodiac was something of a cinephile, so it was so crazy that it just might work. But alas, it did not, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The plan was to get him into the theaters by making a movie about him and premiere it at the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, which was rented out by director Tom Hanson. With Kawasaki sponsoring the event offering a prize to the lucky theater goer who could answer the question, “I believe the Zodiac kills because…” on a card. However, a team of experts would be analyzing the handwriting on the cards to that of the Zodiac’s and snatch them in the lobby. Pretty ballsy and clever plan, but maybe the Zodiac was smarter.

Again, the making of this movie would be far more entertaining than the actual movie itself. The actual film is more or less just a series of random events. You could argue that’s how the murders seemed, but the film makes an odd choice of giving the Zodiac an identity part way through the movie. The film then switches over to following him around as he goes about his day, attempts a little murder and then to the police or reporters trying to catch him. It’s not a bad idea, except the Zodiac’s identity was never discovered, so this ‘based on a true story’ story now becomes majorly fictionalized. It wasn’t like they used a possible suspect as the Zodiac in the film, but a totally random made up guy. You have to wonder if it was done to anger the Zodiac in hopes of drawing him out, but from my research, he never even attempted to contact the filmmakers.

Regardless of the subject matter, this isn’t a serious movie (or at least that’s what the tone is trying to tell me), but rather a madhouse hippie romp that’s light on the gore, yet still has a layer of filth like an early Frank Henenlotter film would have. Satanic hippie driven violence, like I Drink Your Blood and bad b-movie sexy go-go shlock, like The Girl in Gold Boots are easily comparable… and more entertaining. Not to say there’s nothing to take away from The Zodiac Killer, given that it wasn’t a big budget picture. The performances, while not the greatest in the world, aren’t half bad and actually go hand in hand with the cheesy tone.

The beginning of the film focuses on an old, dumpy, balding white guy named Grover (honestly, a pretty fitting name). Grover likes to put on a wig and lie to women about being a businessman to get some random strange. The movie depicts this man as a sexy, irresistible poon hound with a knack for violence and a revolver. Of course, any viewer automatically recognizes someone like this as a red herring, especially when moments later we see a man burying a rabbit under a giant cross. This man is Jerry, Grover’s friend, and he isn’t given much to do until Grover makes an exit at the halfway point in the movie, when he rushes over to his ex-wife’s house, makes some threats, waves a gun at the cops exclaiming that he’s the Zodiac Killer and is instantly gunned down and splashes his fat, dead corpse into the pool.

Now Jerry steps into the spotlight of the film, talking to his pet rabbits that are all named after Zodiac signs. In case you didn’t catch onto the fact that he’s the killer, he then begins chanting to an altar about his “slaves,” which are his murdered victims that would accompany him to his after life. After that, there really isn’t much of significance going on. Well, nothing that would really be called a story, but rather random reenacted murders to move the scenes along and pad out a run time. The film does seem to try and accurately portray what happened at the murder scenes, at least when there was a survivor to recall the event. Other times when there was no survivor, the movie just makes up what they think happened and that discredits the true story angle more, especially considering there isn’t much proof that those murders were done by the Zodiac. I know, this isn’t the first film based on a true story to make things up, but this was all still going on at the time.

More murders happen, the cops don’t seem to have any clues, and then the movie decides it needs to give the Zodiac some motivation towards the end when he confronts his father in a mental institution as he cries out for attention like a baby. At this point, I don’t think they cared about accuracy of who the Zodiac was, but rather were looking to rustle his feathers by calling him a whiny bitch. He then storms outside and pushes a man in a stretcher down a hill and then a flight of stairs. I know he’s trying to kill the guy, because he’s cackling the whole time like a Looney Tunes villain, but even the guy on the stretcher looks like he’s having a blast. Nothing but a big ol’ smile. Then the movie ends on Jerry strolling down the street, narrating that he will continue to kill while laughing to himself…You know know, typical bad guy stuff.

If it weren’t for the subject matter of the actual Zodiac Killer and the zany bongos and horns blaring during the murder scenes, this would be a pretty boring movie. There isn’t much substance to the characters and even Jerry, the film’s Zodiac Killer, has little to do when he’s not killing random people. Most of the characters rarely interact with each other and when they do, it’s mostly arguing, especially coming from Grover. Grover at least gives the film some sleaze, as he’s always drinking, doing drugs and womanizing, so it makes the film feel like a drive-in staple. That’s another thing to the film’s credit, it does have some personality, even if it’s not well shot. As I said, it feels a bit sleazy, a bit trippy and definitely enhanced with that hippie music. I actually found it surprising it didn’t relish in the gore, going over the top and loading the screen up with its bright blood red, but it instead rarely shows gore. I don’t know if that was done out of respect for the victims and their families or if it was just a budgetary thing.

I will give credit to AGFA and Something Weird for restoring this film in 4K from the only surviving blow-up elements, even if it doesn’t look like 4K quality. But that’s alright. A film like this needs dirt and scratches to help with the grimey feel it has. Director Tom Hanson and producer Manny Nedwick provide an audio commentary as well as an interview and some trailers to round out the special features on the disc. There’s some liner notes and director interview from Temple of Shlock’s Chris Poggiali and some reversible cover artwork. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that there is a bonus film, Another Son of Sam from 1977, which was actually called Hostages and filmed in 1975, but changed the title when the film was being released around the same time the actual Summer of Sam killer was caught to capitalize on that. Nope, nothing sleazy there.

If you want to watch a really great movie about the Zodiac Killer, then watch Zodiac by David Fincher. It’s beautifully shot, colors are muted and yet they jump out at you and fit the tone of the scene. The characters are well acted and interesting enough to follow through a two and a half hour movie with and it makes the randomness of the murders and the unknown identity of the Zodiac feel like a frightening boogeyman. If you want the exact opposite of that, watch The Zodiac Killer. I will say that you won’t be bored, even if it’s not very well made. Or accurate.

Ho-stess’s PS- Here’s a sneaky peak at the Island of Dr. Moreau doc Goon mentioned. Highly rec adding this one to your #MustViewQueue. 🙂 xoxo

#TalesfromtheCryptThursday: The Man Who Was Death

Ho-wdy, Kinky Kreeps!

Wel-cum to #TalesformtheCryptThursday, a new feature in which we eXXXhume some cl-Ass-Sick fright fare from fear favorite Tales from the Crypt! What better episode to start with than the one that jump-started? Yes, kreepies, this one’s galvanizing! From 1989, it’s The Man Who Was Death!

The Man who Was Death tells the shocking story of a state executioner who loves his job a little too much. When the state abolishes the Death Penalty, he decides to dispense some vigilante justice…  2,000 volts worth of it!
The episode stars the badass William Sadler as the mad eXXXecutioner. Sadler would go on to make frequent visits to the Crypt, starring in the film Demon Knight, appearing in ho-sting segments in both a Season 6 episode and Bordello of Blood, and serving as the host in the failed spin-off, Two-Fisted Tales. (Sooooooo much more on that later! ;))Two years after The Man Who Was Death, Sadler went on to play The Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, which means Sadler could truly be described as The Man Who Was Death.
Mr. Sadler would also portray that same Reaper in the aforementioned Season 6 episode, entitled The Assassin. All roads lead back to the Crypt. 🙂
For a shocking good time, we presenteth thee with… The Man Who Was Death:

As a boo-nus, here’s the comic that inspired the episode:

Goon Review: Serial Mom (aka Happy Birthday, John Waters!)

Ho-wdy, Ho-rror Ho-mies! Happy John Waters’ 71st Birthday Day!


In ho-nor of the Pope of Trash’s birthaversary, we have a review of his Serial Mom submitted by our very own Mr. Andrew Peters! Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxoxo

The ‘90s was a strange time, especially for movies. The ‘90s didn’t quite have the identity that previous decades had, especially the ‘80s and it seemed like it wanted to forget all about the ‘80s while mimicking it at the same time, making it feel lost. Movies from that time suffered the most, especially the horror and comedy genres. Horror flicks thought they were being clever by attempting to mock the films of the ‘70s and ‘80, but it had a very cynical attitude about it, especially the slasher genre. I think we got the worst slashers out of the ‘90s. Comedies didn’t fare any better. They lacked the heart and characters that carried the films of previous years and decided to focus on cliched stereotypes they felt what their audiences perceived as cool. Oh, and help us if the two genres were attempted to be combined and you know how I feel about those. It’s like nobody knew how to speak to the generation of that time or what was happening in the world.

Nobody except for John Waters, that is. He’s a fashionable man that captures the look and style of a more pop art version of the swinging ‘60s. There’s also something very sleazy and mischievous about him that you can’t help but be fascinated with. He turned everyone’s heads – and stomachs – with the 1972 bizarre trash flick Pink Flamingos that featured both someone performing oral sex and that same person, Divine, eating dog shit. It also showcases someone bending their legs to expose their butthole and open it and close it in a rhythmic fashion. I’m just giving you an idea of what kind of filmmaker John Waters is. He loves to shock you with his sense of humor, but what if you were to take that style out of the trailer park and move it into suburbia? Well, you’d get Serial Mom.

Serial Mom has that humble ‘50s and ‘60s white, wholesome family with a ‘90s aesthetic, but underneath is a sweltering, festering nest of sleaze slowly oozing out and infecting the rest of the film, but by the time you notice it’s too late. Violence and the very mild gore is meant to both disgust you and make you laugh. The film is not only a more subtle parody of the horror genre, but it’s also a very dark comedy that is far more relevant today than it was at the time. It very intelligently brings to attention just what a media circus a famous court case can be and how we over sensationalize and idolize a serial killer, turning a blind eye to the horrors they’ve caused when we shouldn’t. In a way, this movie predicted the OJ Simpson trial if you can believe it.

This isn’t just some low budget, made on the fly type of shlock. This film actually looks like a real film, meaning that the production value is high, cinematography is well done and certain things in have a soft focus to give it a very dreamy or more wholesome quality to it. Serial Mom even has a killer cast to help bring it to a more professional sense (even though it’s just a clever disguise), like Kathleen Turner in the lead role as Beverly Sutphin and Sam Waterston as her husband Eugene, with Matthew Lillard in his first role as her son Chip and Ricki Lake (yes, from The Ricki Lake Show) as her daughter Misty. Together, they appear to be the most perfect family. Mom prepares dinner and cleans the house as dad reads the paper and gets ready for work. Chip and Misty bicker before school about their seemingly important teenage lives, but when everyone leaves and Beverly is all by herself, she immediately partakes in her current favorite hobby; making obscene phone calls to her neighbor Dottie Hinkle. Just the look of pure joy that dons Beverly’s face as she asks Dottie about the pussywillows and if the Cocksucker residents live at 4215 Pussy Way. Immediately, a whiplashing tone is set that’s gonna keep juggling you back and forth. It’s like an amusement park ride; it’s gonna spin you around and make you nauseous, but dammit if it’s not fun.

Between her daughter’s unfaithful boyfriend, a neighbor that don’t recycle and her son’s friend that won’t buckle up, now she has to deal with two detectives nosing around. At first, it’s routine. The police are only digging up clues to find the culprit behind Dottie Hinkle’s phone calls, but with everyone misbehaving, Beverly has to do something about it. After the garbage men and her family wish that certain people were dead, she decides that for the good of her family, she must kill those that can’t be nice or abide by society’s rules. Like one of Chip’s teachers, for example, who believes all of the horror movies that Chip watches is affecting his mental health and that he should seek professional help and that Beverly is a poor parent for allowing him to see such garbage. Well, she’ll show him! Using her car, she runs the sucker down and drives away with no one but a stoner as a witness. Still, the witnesses story summons the police to the Sutphin residence and now they are suspicious, especially after digging through her garbage and finding books on serial killers. The suspicion is heightened when Beverly gores her daughter’s cheating boyfriend with a fireplace poker after catching him shopping around with another girl (Traci Lords in a cameo). Now the police are sniffing around long enough to catch her in the act when she goes after Chip’s friend who is ranting about her being a killer, but fortunately he’s literally caught with his pants down by the Sutphin family and is saved. For now.

That doesn’t thwart Beverly’s rampage, but she’s eventually apprehended by the police and taken to court for her heinous crimes, but like they say, innocent until proven guilty. The final act of the film is her court hearing and it has become a full blown media circus with Misty selling Serial Mom merchandise and Chip acting as her agent for the film being made about her life that will be starring Suzanne Somers who appears as herself. With nobody to defend Beverly but herself, the tables seem like they will be against her, but just wait until how she charms the judge and the jury and proves that maybe she’s not crazy… although she really is.

Scream Factory’s release of Serial Mom is to kill for. I don’t believe this is a 2K transfer, but it certainly looks as sharp as a butcher knife and it also has some killer extra features. Sick of my puns yet? Anyway, the main attraction for the features in my opinion is the feature commentary with director John Waters, who is always entertaining. He also does another new commentary with star Kathleen turner which I also recommend checking out. If you aren’t familiar with John Waters’ commentary, check out his commentary on Christmas Evil. He has nothing to do with the film, but he and the director talk about the movie and it’s pretty funny. Other features include John Waters talking with Kathleen Turner and Mink Stole about the making of the movie and there also a featurette called Serial Mom: Surreal Moments that has interviews with the aforementioned trio along with Matthew Lillard, Ricki Lake, Patricia Hearst and a few others. There’s also an original promotional featurette, The Making of Serial Mom along with The Kings of Gore that looks at the works of Herschel Gordon Lewis and David Friedman and the theatrical trailer for good measure.

Serial Mom is one of the funniest horror comedies to come of… well, ever. We seem to be hitting a wave of them now and they all seem to confuse nostalgia and homage with a half hearted attempt at long running fart jokes made of fads from the era they are supposedly paying respects to. Serial Mom is smart, hilarious and dark. It’s a perfect blend of everything you could want and although it’s not as sleazy as previous John Waters’ films, it really doesn’t need to be and I have to say it’s probably his most well made film.

Happy Birthday, John Waters! Stay filthy, you Prince of Puke! 🙂 xoxoxo

Goon Review: Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)

(This bit o’ festive fright brought to you by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks Ho-rrorday Ho-mie!! 🙂 xoxo)

Christmas horror movies usually take full advantage of the season’s mascot, Santa Claus, and have him rampaging around, slaughtering all the bad boys and girls who are on his naughty list. Or just killing a bunch of random people, but the point is that it was usually Santa or someone dressed up as Santa doing all the killing. That’s what separates Don’t Open Till Christmas from the rest of the bunch. It’s some psychopath going around killing anyone dressed as Santa, so it’s kinda the opposite thing going on. However, that doesn’t make it a great film. Filming began in 1982 and it wasn’t finished until 1984. It had such a troubled production, it’s still a shock that this movie ever was finished.

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The film is directed by Edmund Purdom, who starred in the fantastic Grindhouse flick Pieces. Don’t Open Till Christmas is also produced by the same producer as Pieces, Dick Randall (he’s the guy you have to thank for all the sleaze in these pictures). Edmund Purdom also stars in the film… for a good chunk of the beginning, then he’s gone and then he’s back to not really tie up any loose ends, but just to reassure you that he was still in it and was at one point a major character in the film. There is an explanation for all of this. Apparently, Edmund Purdom left filming halfway through shooting when producers felt he wasn’t delivering quality work and writer Derek Ford stepped in to finish the job, even reshooting most of the scenes, including special effects shots to make them more gory. There were also numerous rewrites and such, so things became pretty disjointed during the editing process. However, Edmund returned to finish the movie and in the end what we get is a film that starts off making sense, to characters vanishing and having other characters explain what is going on instead of showing what happened or explaining what happened to characters that are no longer in the movie. Oh and a sort of abrupt ending.

dont5Setting the tone right off the bat, a man dressed as Santa is in the back seat of a car trying to get his candy cane slobbered when somebody stabs him and his lady to death. The opening rings very much like Friday the 13th, a common connection both this film and To All a Goodnight share. We’re then introduced to a couple we think will be our main characters, but because of the aforementioned production troubles, it’s probably more accurate to say that these are the characters we spend a good amount of time with, Kate and Cliff. They’re at some sort of Christmas party with Kate’s dad dressed as Santa when he’s speared through the back of the head. The people in the room look more disappointed than scared or shocked that someone just got stabbed through the back of the head right in front of them. Kate doesn’t seem to mourn her father long either, so maybe he was a dick. Chief Inspector Ian Harris (Edmund Purdom) and Detective Sergeant Powell stop by to question the couple, but nothing really comes of it, until later that night when another Santa is barbequed on a street grill and the jolly old man erupts into flames. Guess he was stuffed full of coal.

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Now we get to meet an odd character whose true motives are obvious by looking at his wide eyed, crazy man gaze and his awkward interactions with people, Giles (Alan Lake), a man who claims he writes for the paper. Giles seems to be planting seeds of suspicion about Harris in Powell’s head. Almost to the point where it’s super obvious that he may be the guy you think he is… Anyway, another randomly drinking Santa is shot square in the mouth just to add another body to the pile. Hey, this is an exploitation film! We don’t need a reason other than we want to make it offensive and sleazy! You think it’s gonna stop there? No, sir. Another Santa has his throat slashed while watching a stripper through glass.

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By now you may be noticing a theme that every Santa in this movie is either drunk or a pervert. Or both.

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Harris continues to visit Kate and Cliff, because not only does he seemingly have the hots for Kate in a creepy way, but also because Cliff was present at the time for two of the murders, so we gotta add him to the naughty list. Meanwhile, Giles continues to suggest that Powell is hiding something to Harris and later that night, guess what? Another Santa is murdered. Another drunk Santa. This is enough for Harris to be thrown off the case, who just so happens to be randomly visiting an institution. Nothing in that last sentence is shown, mind you, but repeated out loud as exposition by Kate who is on the phone trying to find Harris. This is something that happens a few times throughout the movie to explain Edmund Purdom’s absence from the film. It’s a cheap way around it, rather than having to recast or reshoot, but as a film, this is inexcusable. Imagine you are watching something like Inception and instead of watching what the characters were doing, someone was on the phone and repeating out loud what is being said to them to fill in that gap for you. Even Cliff vanishes from the ending. He’s seen being cleared of the murders and they lead you to believe that he’s gonna help catch the killer, or something, but then as Kate is trying to get close to Harris and the two are having dinner, you see Cliff trying to spy on them and that’s it. No more Cliff.

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So, a few more drunken, perverted Santas get murdered and there’s a random Caroline Munro cameo and the stripper is kidnapped from earlier by the killer who says she’s going to be some sort of ultimate sacrifice for the evil of Christmas or some shit. I don’t know why they needed to throw this in there, seeing as it feels really out of place. It’s at this point they finally reveal the identity of the killer as he confronts Kate in her apartment, but if you have a single working braincell, you already knew who it was. I don’t know why the movie felt they needed to keep it a mystery this whole time seeing as you could kinda see his face through that mask and his character wasn’t exactly subtle whenever he was on screen. That’s not taking away from Alan Lake’s performance, however, as he was really intense and kinda creepy. Sadly, he ended up taking his own life shortly before the movie was released for a number of drinking and depression related issues.


So, why was the killer brutally murdering anyone dressed up as Santa? As far as I can tell from a flashback at the very end, the killer saw his Mommy getting down with Santa. This also happened in Christmas Evil, oddly enough, so I don’t know if this was ripping that off or just trying to be extremely sleazy. Seeing as how the movie is produced by Dick Randall, neither would surprise me. If I can say one thing really positive about this film, it’s that it has a great amount of sleaze and violence. Probably more than another 1984 Christmas slasher flick called Silent Night, Deadly Night. It’s strange to see all of the bored housewives and easily outraged mothers protesting that movie, but where were they during Don’t Open Till Christmas? I’ll tell you, it’s all about marketing. Silent Night, Deadly Night used the image of Santa holding an axe and going down a chimney to promote its film, depicting Santa as the killer, where Don’t Open Till Christmas used a guy killing Santas. So if I learned anything from this, it’s that it’s okay to kill Santa, but not be Santa doing the killing. Thank you marketing and angry mothers everywhere, that makes total sense.

dont6This isn’t the best made Christmas horror film out there and some will say it’s probably not all that good and they’d be right. But that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. It feels downright dirty to be watching this film, especially when Pat Astley shows up in a sexy little number that exposes her goodies to unwrap. It has a very odd, synthy score that adds to its goodness, even if it’s not always used at the most opportune times. Actually, there are quite a few times when it’s just used out of place, like when two characters are talking about nothing in particular and the music is being used like something is gonna jump out at them. This may sound odd, but the mixture of Edmund Purdom’s inexperience as a director and all of the reshoots, rewrites and replacements, everything that made this film a disaster is what makes it memorable. Of course, it’s not by any measure good. It’s actually quite bad, but it’s highly entertaining and feels all Christmasy, which is what it’s all about.dont4

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Goon Reviews: The Exorcist III (1989)

(I realize my choice of a main pic might seem a tad random, but trust me; it will all make sense when we’re done. #ThatsWhatSheSaid. 😉 Big thanks to Mr. Andrew Peters for being on it like a bee bonnet and reminding me ho-w much I used to love/live in fear of this fright flick. For several years I counted this as THE single scariest movie I’d ever seen. Gonna have revisit it to see if it still turns me into a whiny little scaredy baby the way it used to… 😉 xoxo)

WIthout a doubt, 1973’s The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin and written by William Peter Blatty, is an immortal classic. Even most horror films today manage to have one little scare in them while this film set the bar for how frightening a film can truly be. Needless to say, it was a success. In a time before Twitter, word of mouth spread the gospel that was The Exorcist and folks lined up around the block. Even though the film is pretty definitive, there was going to be a sequel and we got one in 1977, directed by John Boorman who didn’t want to direct a horror movie. Let that sink in for a moment. You’re gonna give the sequel to arguably the scariest movie of all time to a guy who hated it and didn’t want to make a horror film? Over the years, The Heretic has gained a cult following, but there is no denying the film is terrible. It wouldn’t be until 1990, twenty seven years after the original, that we would get a true sequel and even then the studio stepped in and demanded changes, taking away the true vision from writer/director William Peter Blatty. So, now in 2016, Scream Factory (who is always so generous to their fans) would give us a Blu-ray that not only has the theatrical cut of The Exorcist III, but also managing to find and release the director’s cut called Legion.

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That’s right, not only has The Exorcist III been restored in 2K from the interpositive, but a workprint version of Legion, the true version of the film, has finally been brought to the light to be seen by all the clamoring masses. It’s one of those lost gems horror fans have been asking for years to have. The reason is the differences, especially in tone, between the two cuts. The Exorcist III is what you would think more of when you think of a horror film and the ending includes a last minute, shoehorned exorcism to tie it in more with the original film’s elements. Legion, on the other hand, is more of a drama/murder mystery that omits the less favored exorcism ending. Speaking honestly, I prefer the Legion cut of the movie. It’s much more dramatic and it’s interesting to see the police detective’s journey into this case that brings up old memories, but also and mostly due to Brad Dourif’s stellar performance. This was about the same time as Child’s Play 2, so he knows how to really sell emotion and terror with his voice and his scenes are absolutely bone chilling. I was getting goosebumps as he went through a range of emotions and even though I felt like I couldn’t get enough of his character, every bit with him was a treat. Most of his scenes were done by Jason Miller in The Exorcist III cut, who played Father Karras in the original. Now, I know it sounds silly that a character who died in the first film would be in the third movie and it kinda is. Getting into spoiler territory, the spirit of the Gemini Killer jumped into Father Karras’ body as he was dying all those years ago and then just kinda wandered around for all those years. It was meant to tie the film in more with the original, but ultimately it has less impact and as good as Jason Miller’s performance was, Brad Dourif’s was much better and his appearance makes more sense than Father Karras’.

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I wanted to talk about a few of the major differences in the film before we actually got into the film itself as a whole, otherwise I would be jumping all around and that could get a bit confusing. Hopefully, you aren’t. Are you? No? Good.

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The Georgetown police seem to be having trouble tracking down a serial killer who is murdering children and priests in a fashion that’s all too familiar to Police Lieutenant William Kinderman, who you may remember as Father Karras’ friend from the first film (only played by George C. Scott this time instead of Lee J. Cobb). After learning more grisly details of the murders, Kinderman has a dream that night that he’s in Heaven and sees his good friend Father Dyer who has something of an omen to tell him. The next day, Kinderman receives word that his friend Father Dyer has been murdered at the hospital and upon inspecting the crime scene, he finds the words “It’s a wonderfull life” sprawled across the wall in Father Dyer’s blood. That’s not a typo, that’s how another clue to the identity of the killer, who Kinderman has a hard time believing. When things really start to get tense, Kinderman finally clues in the doctors and other detectives that all of the ways the victims were murdered and their bodies mutilated and the spelling on the wall… it all points to the Gemini Killer who was executed in 1973. Yup, around the same time Damien Karras was killed.

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To make things even more haunting, Kinderman is told of a patient who is claiming to be the Gemini Killer, a man who has been wandering aimlessly with amnesia, also happens to resemble his deceased friend. He taunts Kinderman, warning him to tell the papers to report that the Gemini Killer is still alive and well or there will be consequences. And consequences there are. More bodies begin to turn up and Kinderman can’t seem to figure out how. It’s all part in a pretty clever reveal about having elderly dementia patients. So, what you have is a body jumping demon movie in a cop thriller, kinda like Fallen. It’s actually really interesting, but in the Legion cut, the only thing it has to do with The Exorcist is the recurring character from of Lt. Kinderman and some mentions of Damien Karras, hence why more shots of Father Karras and the exorcism scene added at the end. Exorcist III gets a lot of flack, mostly due to the fact that it’s a sequel to one of the greatest horror films of all time, but it’s actually a really great sequel, especially taking The Heretic into consideration.

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As I’ve talked about several times throughout the review, the acting in Exorcist III is absolutely phenomenal. George C. Scott plays Lt. Kinderman like he’s almost burnt out and tired of his job and when he’s thrust into this case, he’s nearly ready to crack as he struggles with accepting the supernatural element of this case and feelings of his old friend who he has trouble accepting it’s really him. Opposite of him is Brad Dourif who steals the show every second he is on screen. I’ve also mentioned a few times that I prefer the Legion cut of the film if not only because it feature more Brad Dourif (and without that modulation over his voice). His performance is by far one of the most frightening I have seen in horror movie history. He jumps between volumes and moods seamlessly without shifting the tone of the movie, but with his character and it never feels distracting. I enjoyed Jason Miller’s performance as well, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record here, he doesn’t compare to Brad Dourif’s and I also feel like the more we see of him, the less impact it has. I feel it takes away from how fragile Lt. Kinderman is becoming and it also takes the “oomph” away from the audience as well. And I have to mention the spider crawl on the ceiling is goddamn creepy and this film has THE creepiest jump scare in cinema history. I won’t talk about it, because I don’t want to give it away, but I will say that the set up to it, how the tension is long and drawn out, lulling you into a false sense of security, is absolutely brilliant and the payoff will make you jump out of your chair.

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Scream Factory also loaded this 2-Disc Collector’s Edition with all kinds of features, both old and new. The first disc is The Exorcist III cut of the film in the brand new 2K scan I previously mentioned, but also includes a vintage featurette, deleted scenes, alternate takes, bloopers, vintage interviews with the cast and crew as well as the usual TV spots and trailers. The second disc is really where it’s at. It not only presents the Legion cut of the film, but also all brand new features, mostly all kinds of interviews with Brad Dourif, William Peter Blatty and many others, but it also includes a look at the makeup effects and reshoots. I’m actually kinda bummed we didn’t get a director’s commentary on Legion, but there is more than enough here to make up for it.exorcistiii1

Often overlooked, Exorcist III is one of the better sequels and that’s a damn shame considering how overlooked and scoffed at it is. The director’s cut is finally available and many, many horror fans will be glad to finally be seeing it. Scream Factory put together one hell of a Collector’s Edition that’s not to be missed.

Writer/Director William Peter Blatty and The Joker, who makes a subliminal appearance in the film.

Writer/Director William Peter Blatty and The Joker, who makes a subliminal appearance in the film.

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Ho-stess’s Absolutely Gratuitous PS– Brad Dourif is insanely hot!!! (Get it? ’cause Cuckoo’s Nest, you see… ;))

But, for real, he’s super hot. This pic is blurred beyond recognition, but I shall treasure it always. 🙂 #BillyBibbit4Evah!!!

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