30 Fun Facts About “The Exorcist III”

For over 40 years, The Exorcist has been considered by many to be the greatest and most frightening horror film ever made. Its reputation is unlike any other.

However, its sequel The Exorcist II: The Heretic is remembered as one of the worst horror movie and most unnecessary sequels in history.

The third entry in the series is another story entirely. Serving as more of a spinoff, it has something of a cult following among horror fans. And while it wasn’t an instant classic, many have gained an appreciation for it over the years.

So now that it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary, we thought it would be fun to look at 30 fun facts, one for each year since its release!

1. The original novel “Legion” was excluded from the New York Times Bestseller list, despite having the sales to justify it. As a result, author William Peter Blatty filed a $3 million lawsuit in damages. The court ultimately dismissed the suit, claiming that it was unfounded and frivolous.

2. The book and film’s primary antagonist the Gemini Killer was not so subtly inspired by the Zodiac Killer.

The fact that Zodiac toyed with the press and was never caught has made him a long-standing figure of modern mythology and urban legend.

3. The title of the novel “Legion” comes from Mark 5:9 in the Bible. Jesus is performing an exorcism and asks the demon, “What is thy name?” to which the demon replies, “Legion, for we are many.”

4. Rights to produce the film were being bid between Morgan Creek and Carolco. However Blatty wasn’t happy with Carolco’s pitch to have the movie feature Reagan from the first film giving birth to twins who were possessed. So, he went with Morgan Creek.

5. In a rare move, Morgan Creek not only used the author’s own screenplay adaptation, but hired Blatty to direct as well.

6. Blatty had previously directed The Ninth Configuration in 1980, which he also adapted from his own novel.

The Ninth Configuration also starred Jason Miller and Ed Flanders.

7. Initially, Blatty offered the directing job to John Carpenter, who backed out because he felt that Blatty had some very strong ideas and didn’t want to interfere.

8. Lee J. Cobb sadly passed away in 1976, only three years after The Exorcist came out, so the role had to be recast.

9. At one point during pre-production, William Friedkin (who had directed the original Exorcist) was considered to direct, however he reportedly wasn’t at all interested. In a later interview, he stated that he’s never even seen any of the Exorcist sequels and has no desire to.

10. William O’Malley was also unavailable to reprise his role of Father Dyer, as he was too busy teaching.

11. Despite being titled Exorcist III, the movie has no connection at all to Exorcist II: The Heretic. Blatty wanted it to be titled Legion, as was the novel. However the studio insisted it be called Exorcist III to cash in on the popularity of the original film.

However, some have speculated that this movie does follow the same continuity because when the steps are shown, we don’t see Reagan’s house, which was destroyed at the end of Exorcist II.

12. Fox spent an additional $4 million (half of the film’s budget at the time) to do the extensive reshoots and film an ending that involved an exorcism.

13. During filming, Blatty was plagued with constant studio interference, as they didn’t fully trust him. Gemini Killer actor Brad Dourif even commented that everyone on set felt bad for him, because of how he was treated.

14. The exorcism scene at the end was added entirely in reshoots because the studio was upset that there wasn’t any exorcism in the movie. Blatty called the scene completely unnecessary.

On its own, it’s a cool scene and Father Morning makes for a badass exorcist, but this ending doesn’t mesh at all with the rest of the movie’s tone.

15. Just like the original movie, Exorcist III was set and shot in Georgetown, DC. Blatty himself was an alumnus of Georgetown University, so he decided to set his novels there.

16. Apparently Blatty and George C. Scott didn’t get along while filming. Scott was known for being difficult to work with. He once even held up the entire production of Taps so that he could finish a chess game.

17. During filming, Jason Miller was an alcoholic and it was so extreme that he had trouble memorizing lines.

18. There’s an assortment of cameos including Samuel L. Jackson, Fabio, Larry King, and Patrick Ewing.

19. Initially Blatty had only wanted Brad Dourif to play the role of the Gemini Killer, even as he possessed Father Karras. But the studio insisted that Jason Miller be in the film so as to tie it back to the original Exorcist.

Dourif gives an award-worthy performance that’s subtle and nuanced, but also chilling and terrifying!

20. The scene with the hospital decapitation is considered by many to be the greatest jump scare in horror movie history.

21. In an incredibly meta reference, the Gemini Killer states that sneaking out at night is “mere child’s play”. Brad Dourif had just starred in Child’s Play two years earlier, and its sequel that very same year.

22. There was a scene filmed with Karras’ face morphs between himself and the Gemini Killer, but Blatty cut it because the effects didn’t turn out the way he wanted.

23. There was a rush to get the movie released before the parody movie Repossessed (which starred Linda Blair) got released. Exorcist III came out a month earlier.

It’s no Airplane or Naked Gun, and the fact that they got Linda Blair is both impressive and quite gimmicky…

24. The movie’s critical response was lukewarm at best. Many felt that it was too “wordy” and dialogue-heavy, more like a novel.

25. Despite earning $39 million at the box office against an $11 million budget, the film wasn’t viewed as a success, because the original Exorcist has grossed $441 million.

26. Blatty himself won a Saturn Award for Best Writing, and Brad Dourif was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

27. The film was also nominated for Worst Actor at the Razzies for George C. Scott. However he “lost” to Andrew Dice Clay in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.

28. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer absolutely loved the movie and even identified with the Gemini Killer.

It’s actually quite disturbing to think about, especially considering that the movie was released during Dahmer’s numerous murders.

29. For years, Blatty wanted to recut the film to be more in line with his original vision of “Legion”, however the studio lost much of the footage in a fire.

30. In 2016, a director’s cut was finally released titled Exorcist III: Legion. It plays out more as a standalone film than a sequel to The Exorcist.

Which of these did you already know? Which ones surprised you? Let us know the comments!

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