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Exorcist III, The (Blu-ray)

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exorcist-iii-the-1990Starring George C. Scott, Brad Dourif, Jason Miller

Directed by William Peter Blatty

Distributed by Scream Factory


After William Friedkin’s 1973 adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s worldwide bestseller, “The Exorcist”, became one of the highest-grossing films of all-time, breaking records across the country, it wasn’t long before studio executives were chomping at the bit to make a sequel… and that sequel was Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), one of the most notorious turkeys in all of cinema history. Boorman’s sequel is a psychedelic nightmare, filled with all sorts of bizarre moments that just never gelled. At all. Given that film’s abysmal response, it would be thirteen years before another attempt at capitalizing on the original classic was made. This time, writer William Peter Blatty stepped into the dual role of writer/director, adapting from his novel, “Legion”, to craft The Exorcist III (1990). The road to cinemas would not be an easy one, however, as many fans are quite aware that Blatty’s film was retitled and recut to a large degree. Reaction to the film’s theatrical cut improved upon the previous entry, though that’s a dubious honor. While The Exorcist III has built up a decent cult following over the years, fans have clamored to see Blatty’s original cut for just as long. Well, fans, your day has (sorta) come as Scream Factory has spliced together a close approximation of what Blatty originally intended, putting to rest once and for all the notions of what could have been. Turns out, maybe what we got was the best version all along…

Fifteen years ago, Father Damian Karras (Jason Miller) jumped out of that lofty window in the MacNeil house to kill the demon within him, sacrificing his life and deeply depressing his good friend Lt. Bill Kinderman (George C. Scott taking over for Lee J. Cobb). Now, Kinderman is older, more cantankerous, and forced into reopening some old wounds when a killer sets off on a spree within the city of Georgetown. People are being killed in ritualistic fashion – brutally so – with heads removed, blood drained, and bloody messages that are aimed squarely at Kinderman. The murder’s m.o. is reminiscent of the Gemini Killer, but he died fifteen years ago in the electric chair… right?

Kinderman finds some solace in spending time with his good friend Father Dyer (Ed Flanders), which in horror speak means that guy is going to die right about… now. Bill has his men check out the fingerprints left at the crime scenes and is stunned to find each set is different. Multiple killers? Kinderman’s investigation leads him to a mental ward run by Dr. Temple (Scott Wilson), who introduces Bill to an unknown patient, Patient X, kept in Cell 11. When Kinderman meets the man he’s rendered speechless – he looks exactly like Father Karras, who supposedly perished long ago. Or is he actually the Gemini Killer (Brad Dourif), who is also dead? Thanks to the magic of studio mandated reshoots, he’s both, and it’s going to take an exorcism from a just-introduced character, Father Morning (Nicol Williamson), to put an end to all this Satanic misery.

Despite all the very clear studio tinkering and tweaking, The Exorcist III is by no means a bad film; it just doesn’t live up to the glory of the original, which, to be fair, could never have happened. The plot of this film is practically a backdrop to the real meat of the story, which is a character drama focused squarely on Bill Kinderman and his relationship with faith and the belief in a higher power. Bill spends most of the film concerned and befuddled by the apparent return of the Gemini Killer, unsure how someone could be mimicking that should-be-dead killer’s exact modus operandi, right down to details police never released. Once Bill gets his answer, in the form of a slightly confusing confession from Patient X, the movie switches gears to a spook chase, with Kinderman trying to thwart the Gemini’s murderous spree. Bill is a man of little faith, with no belief in the tenets of the bible. As the film progresses, and the works of Satan are made clear, his atheistic foundation is shaken to the core. Strangely, though, as in most of these films the other team never materializes in any tangible fashion; it is only Old Scratch and his lackeys who show up to the party.

With so much of the film playing out like a police procedural, not much time is devoted to thrills and chills. Except, you know, for that scene; the one legit jump scare that many horror fans consistently point to as one of horror’s best. Blatty’s inexperience as a director does show through in this film but this one shot, which is composed in such a way to really build up the tension, is expertly crafted.

Any weight gain on Lt. Kinderman’s part in the ensuing fifteen years since The Exorcist can easily be explained, since the role was taken over from the deceased Lee J. Cobb by George C Scott, who has been known to season his scripts before chewing them up with panache. This is one of those seamless switches – rare in films – where the actor taking over a part is such a perfect fit you hardly notice. Scott is a recurring time bomb, waiting for precise moments to explode with intense ferocity – “It is not in the file! It is NOT!” – before sealing himself back up and waiting for another moment to burst. His dedication to the material and conviction with which he reads his lines are a big part of this film’s achievements. A boilerplate cop actor in his place might’ve made this a real snoozer.

The film’s major additions – re: the reshoots – mostly come during the third act. Mostly. Keen-eyed viewers should be able to tell where these additions begin, which is right around when new character Father Morning is introduced. From there on, the film gets to the titular promise of an exorcism. And, really, who cares if it’s tacked on? The sequence is one of the best in the film, incongruous as it may feel, thanks to some gruesome FX work and a stronger sense of horror than any preceding scenes. There are certain expectations when a movie has Exorcist in the title and the new third act fulfills the promise.

The film’s new 2K scan is a strong effort, more or less on par with the disc included in WB’s “The Exorcist Anthology” collection, with the 1.85:1 1080p image showcasing an organic grain field, fine details, solid color saturation, and strong black levels. Minor details are particularly impressive, allowing tiny details of the Georgetown streets, Kinderman’s suits, and ornate religious iconography to shine through with excellent clarity. There are a few moments when some of these elements are variable and the image loses a bit of stability, but overall this is highly impressive.

As far as the Director’s Cut goes, this is a hybrid cut using pieces from the new Blu-ray spliced together with tape footage. I personally think this was the wrong way to go, as the massive jumps in quality – sometimes for a single scene lasting a few seconds – are too jarring. It would have been best to include the DC with consistent footage quality so that cut can speak for itself. This way, it’s like you’re watching two differing cuts simultaneously and, for me, it was tough to get through.

The English DTS-HD MA track comes in both 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound flavors. There is a bit of an echo effect heard at times, and I also detected some sporadic ringing to a few scenes. Dialogue is generally clear and discernible, though sometimes words ending with an “s” have a slight hiss to them. Composer Barry DeVorzon’s score sounds excellent, making more use of the rear channels than anything else heard on the track. Subtitles are available in English SDH.

DISC ONE: Theatrical Cut

A “Vintage Featurette” – This is your standard studio EPK, providing a good overview of the film.

There are three photo galleries: “Behind-the-Scenes”, “Posters & Lobby Cards”, and “Still Gallery”.

Two trailers and six TV spots, all in HD, are included here.

A reel called “Deleted Scene, Alternate Takes & Bloopers” features soe odds and ends, while the film’s deleted prologue, which also appears as the opening to the DC, can also be found here.

Several vintage interviews with the principal cast & crew are also included.

DISC TWO: Director’s Cut

There is an audio interview with writer/director William Peter Blatty that has been edited and laid over the film, acting as a quasi-commentary.

“A “Wonderfull” Time” – A handful of the film’s actors and crew sit down to discuss the impact of the first film, how much they hated the second, and how the third came together. Dourif makes mention of how Scott could be intimidating on set, because he was known for doing one take and nailing it.

“Signs of the Gemini” – Brad Dourif is the focus here, as he discusses the turmoil on set, having the essentially re-do his entire performance and greatly preferring the way he acted the first time around. It’s both informative and bittersweet.

“The Devil in the Details” – The film’s production design team is interviewed, touching upon all that fun stuff production designers are responsible for on a set.

“Music for a Padded Cell” – Composer Barry DeVorzon talks about crafting the score for this highly anticipated horror sequel.

“All This Bleeding” – Here’s the best of the new feature lot, with heavy discussion concerning the studio-ordered reshoots, the additional gore scenes, Miller’s uncredited stunt double and many more interesting tidbits.

Special Features:

DISC ONE: The Exorcist III (Theatrical Cut)

  • New 2K scan of the inter-positive
  • 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

BUY IT NOW!

  • The Exorcist III
  • Special Features
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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith


I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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User Rating 3.62 (21 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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User Rating 4.14 (22 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.95 (20 votes)
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