Good news arrives today for fans of 1990’s unfairly dismissed The Exorcist III. Shout! Factory has announced that they will bring the film to Blu-ray under their Scream Factory label. The release will be a two-disc collector’s edition, complete with an alternate cut that more closely resembles the original script by writer/director William Peter Blatty.
The team at Scream Factory will accomplish this “using a mixture of various film and videotape sources,” which worked fairly well for them when they assembled a director’s cut of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. Scream Factory still considers this new cut “a work in progress,” and they haven’t yet clarified if the aging Blatty (he’s almost 90 now) will be offering his input.
The Exorcist III is one of those sequels that doesn’t get enough recognition outside the horror fandom. It’s quite scary, and a good film in earnest, despite being a compromised vision. Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel Legion, Blatty never liked the idea of calling the film The Exorcist III, especially after critics and audiences chewed up The Exorcist II and spat it out so viciously. But the studio had their way. After completing production on the film, studio executives decided that the original ending, which was not an exorcism, needed to be scrapped and re-shot as a more traditional exorcism sequence.
And while I’m grateful that we may finally see the film’s original ending, alternate cuts assembled from lost bits can be a real drag if there isn’t much material to work with. Good editing requires connective tissue, the inclusion of moments and shots that link scenes so that they properly flow from one to the next. Special care must be taken to ensure that the movie still functions and that no vital piece of storytelling goes missing. Scenes aren’t modular, and they can’t be moved around with ease. Alternate cuts — especially when they’re done years after the fact — are major filmmaking surgery. But I admire Scream Factory immensely for taking on such a task.
As the home video market has decayed, Shout! Factory and Scream Factory only got better. They’re one of a handful of smaller home video companies that seek to bring older cult films back to life, with improved video quality and new extra features. Scream Factory claims that their collector’s edition of The Exorcist III will have “tons” of extras, which is music to my ears. The set is now available for pre-order on their website, and will be released on October 25th of this year.