Horror History: The Exorcist III - Lost Head Morph Exorcism Scene

In 1990 Exorcist author William Peter Blatty get into the director's chair to adapt his 1983 novel and sequel to The Exorcist, Legion, for the big screen. However, from script to screen things didn't go exactly as he'd planned.

Exorcist III, as it came to be known, was set over a decade after the original film and thankfully ignored the events of the incredibly terrible 1977 sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic. Starring George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Jason Miller, Scott Wilson, and Brad Dourif, the film was originally titled Legion, but studio executives of Morgan Creek felt that the title would be unrecognizable to fans and wanted instead to go with something more commercial friendly. As a result re-writes and re-shoots were ordered, and in the end an exorcism sequence was tacked on to the film's ending. While Blatty states that he is happy with what was released, he'd love to give his original vision a whirl. Sadly, Morgan Creek claims all of the original cut footage has been lost.

Upon its release the film was met with mixed reviews from both critics and audiences alike, but with the passage of time it's aged like a fine wine. Filled with truly creepy moments, stand-out performances from George C. Scott and Brad Dourif, and quirky moments featuring Patrick Ewing and Fabio as angels, Exorcist III has lots of bang for your buck. Not to mention the fact that it's home to one of the single most effective and jarring jump scares ever put to film.

So that brings us to the trailer released for the film. We see trailers all the time containing footage not seen in theatres, but when it comes to Exorcist III, we really missed out on a tasty moment that was omitted from the final exorcism scene. You can dig on a bit of it in the rare trailer below.

Horror History: The Exorcist III - Lost Head Morph Exorcism Scene

Horror History: The Exorcist III - Lost Head Morph Exorcism Scene

Horror History: The Exorcist III - Lost Head Morph Exorcism Scene

Horror History: The Exorcist III - Lost Head Morph Exorcism Scene

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Screamz's picture

Exorcist III, a truly scary, engaging film. I actually like it better than the first...

Submitted by Screamz on Wed, 08/29/2012 - 5:44pm.
Hakk Wylde's picture

Fantastic, totally underrated film. Thanks for mentioning this Gem!
Rabid, wall-crawling Grannies should never be missed!

Submitted by Hakk Wylde on Wed, 08/29/2012 - 8:23am.
DavidFullam's picture

William Peter Blatty should have made more films.

Submitted by DavidFullam on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 8:43pm.
Vanvance1's picture

Absolutely, he's brilliant. At least we have his novels.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 8:48pm.
Matt Serafini's picture

I hope that means you guys are fans of THE NINTH CONFIGURATION?

Brilliant, often underlooked film.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 9:19pm.
Vanvance1's picture

Absolutely LOVE it. It's based on the novel Twinkle Twinkle Killer Kane but in this case he one ups himself with the movie.

It makes you wonder just how good Exorcist 3 would have been had Blatty been without interference in transfering his book Legion to the screen.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Wed, 08/29/2012 - 1:08am.
DavidFullam's picture

The Ninth Configuration? One of the most powerful and moving films I have ever seen.

Submitted by DavidFullam on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 10:08pm.
Matt Serafini's picture

Glad to know it's got a few fans on DC!

It's not often I find people who've even heard of it, let alone seen it.

When I recommend it it's usually met with a glossy-eyed blank stare that tells me they have no intention of seeking it out.

It's a shame, for it's such an amazing film.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Wed, 08/29/2012 - 8:32am.
DavidFullam's picture

True. It's a beautiful piece of cinema. Possibly never would have heard of it myself had my brother not known about it and rented it on video back in the 1980s.

Submitted by DavidFullam on Wed, 08/29/2012 - 1:40pm.
kiddcapone's picture

I've loved the Exorcist III since the first day I saw it in 1990...I'd kill for the director's cut. I always thought it was such an awesome idea how Father Karras's body was possessed with the spirit of the Gemini Killer to carry on his killing spree as punishment for performing the exorcism...

Submitted by kiddcapone on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 8:11pm.

I finally got around to watching Exorcist III about a year ago and I have to say I was a little disappointed. Perhaps the hype that had been built up around it had something to do with my huge expectations. There were some creepy, scary scenes here and there, but that final act plot twist was just too fuckin' weird to comprehend. I'm still not sure I understand that whole character revelation.

Submitted by LSD Zombie on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 7:59pm.
Matt Serafini's picture

Awesome article, Steve.

Personally speaking, the "director's cut" of EXORCIST III is number two on my "holy grail" list (right behind uncut versions of all the Friday sequels).

The head morph in the trailer is one of the most intriguing things about Blatty's original cut but, having read the book, I'd be more interested in seeing something more closely in-line with his literary ending.

But EXORCIST III is a fantastic sequel. One of the best - even in its current state.

My fingers are crossed that we'll one day see Blatty's version though. Mr. Blatty isn't getting any younger.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 7:13pm.
moderator Thanks, Matt. I too would
Steve Barton's picture

Thanks, Matt. I too would KILL to see a director's cut of this flick. I've searched everywhere.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 7:15pm.

Cant find the video. But I love Exorcist 3. When I first read about it years ago in Fangoria I wasnt too sure I was going to like it at all. Probably because Exorcist 2 was a piece of crap and a horrible sequal. But once it hit VHS I watched and really loved it. It is the real sequal to the original. And a great cast. And speaking of that dream sequance if You look real close Youll notice Samuel Jackson playing a blind guy. Great film.

Submitted by JB Demented on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 6:44pm.
Steve Barton's picture

The video is there. Just give it a moment to load.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 6:50pm.

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