Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: “Now free me…”

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. I’m sure this will come as happy news for some, but we’re almost done with my week of posts on The Exorcist. With what happened back in ’77, there had to be a redemption coming. At the very least, for the franchise, the story, and mercifully for those who returned to the movie theater. Fortunately, it came from the one closest to the source.

“I’ve seen it 37 times.” ~ Father Dyer (On the film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’)


Theatre

The Picwood Theatre:


[pictures are care of the Cinema Treasures site]

Movie

Time

August 18, 1990: ever hear of the film title, The Other Side of Midnight? No? It was a garish, trashy 1977 film adaptation of a garish, trashy bestselling Sidney Seldon novel from ’73. It did fair box office returns for its showy, soapy, and, what producers sincerely hoped was, titillating content. I think about it sometimes. Not only for the kitschy story, but for its catchy descriptive title that seemingly recounted, so damn well, the chasm I got myself into after that year. Better late than never, I (and a special someone) eventually pulled myself out of that period. One that stretched from the late-70s to the late-80s.

Ruts come in many forms. During that crazy time, I still read all sorts of things. As it happens, novelist William Peter Blatty ultimately came out with his official sequel, in 1983, to his literary bestseller that began the entire possessed media conglomeration back in ’71. There was no way in Hell I’d miss out. Fans suspected the originator wrote the book in reaction (and denunciation) to the crap-fest that was the Exorcist II film. No doubt. He wouldn’t be the first or the last — see Robert Bloch’s Psycho II novel in 1982 or ’93’s Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry as answer to Universal’s own sequel and that horrid telepic.

So, when the ineptly titled The Exorcist III made its way to a late-summer release date, I knew I’d be there. Someone had to be. I also suspected the studio had little confidence in the film, given its scheduled August run. The rumors of interference the author, doubling as director, received at their hands only reinforced the thought. As Yoda would say, worried I was. Would Blatty get to present his broodingly unexpected continuation on-screen? Or, would Hollywood go for more of the trite and cheap theatrics (cough The Heretic), as befitting their estimation for a genre film?

Mercifully, sitting in the near vacant Picwood Theatre alone (no way my new bride would attend this) the day after it opened, the Devil lost. More of the former won out (though the latter’s tacked on exorcism remains a vexing blemish on the film). Like marrying the godsend that is my wife, it was great to finally be on the other side midnight.

The entire TMT series can be found here. If you’re interested how it’s put together, click here.

12 Responses to “TMT: “Now free me…””

  1. Colonel Mortimer (Kevin)

    Exorcist III is a very good film with one particular great scare scene, glad you’re a fan. Wish it was released as Exorcist: Legion as initially planned.

    And man, the Picwood looks like a great theatre

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Great to hear from you again, Colonel. That hospital corridor scene should be studied by anyone interested on how to build tension and truly pay-off a scene in a movie sequence. It’s that great, IMO. Glad you’re a fan of it, too. Agreed, ‘Exorcist: Legion’ should have remained the title. BTW, perhaps you’ve heard there is a re-edited version of this, by a fan, making the rounds at certain film fests. More to what Blatty intended (before the suits stepped in). Brad Dourif presented a screening of the fanedit at the Mad Monster Party horror convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina last March. Man, I wish I could have been there for that. Thanks, Colonel.

      Reply
  2. Dan

    Another impressive theater. As for the film…well, it’s certainly better than the second one. Indeed, I actually really like it but it does cause a little confusion as aren’t we supposed to think Father Karras is dead at the end of the first film, sacrificing himself for the girl. In hindsight, he still sacrifices himself but in Exorcist III he has a chance of redemption. But the third film is a good, well-paced mystery with a great central performance. It also has one of the best jump-out-of-your-seat moments in cinema history – oh, how I would have liked to see that for the first time in a packed cinema.

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Yes, the old Picwood was a grand theater (gone and replaced in the extension of mall, sadly). In Blatty’s novel, Legion, the Gemini Killer’s soul possesses Father Karras’ just about dead body (sort of like the ’88 ‘Child’s Play’ film — a prime reason Brad Dourif’s supporting role in this was so much an ‘Inside Baseball’ casting). It’s another way the dark forces inflict a torment on the priest who saved Regan from the first book/film.

      ” It also has one of the best jump-out-of-your-seat moments in cinema history…”

      Yes, yes, yes. Glad to hear you’re another fan of this, Dan. Many thanks.

      Reply
  3. ruth

    This is something I’d never watch Michael, but hey I always enjoy reading your TMT series! :)

    Reply
  4. Paula

    What an amazing old cinema you saw this in! I’ve never seen any of THE EXORCIST films but, as Ruth said, I do enjoy reading the TMT series. You’ve given me an idea actually. There is a series of films that really helped me through a bad time but I don’t know if I could handle writing about it yet.

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      It was a wonderful movie hall. I miss it. And I’d be certainly interested in what you’d write about that set of film you’ve mentioned, Paula. Whenever it arrives, I’ll be there. Many thanks.

      Reply

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