Film: The Exorcist III

The Exorcist III is a 1990 supernatural horror film and the second sequel to The Exorcist.


This film provides examples of:

  • The Cameo: The Exorcist III is full of them. Fabio makes his first screen appearance in the Dream Sequence, along with Patrick Ewing as The Angel Of Death, Samuel L. Jackson as the blind man, while other Washington, DC personalities such as then-Georgetown head coach John Thompson walking around.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Despite the "III" in the title, the film completely ignores the second entry. It was probably for the better...
    • In this movie Kinderman and Karras were best friends. In first film, they barely knew each other - however, in the novel, they had a friendship growing, and when it was cut short, Kinderman and Dyer became friends because of their mutual relationship with Karras.
  • Canon Foreigner: Father Morning wasn't in any of the books, and was added into the film because the producers wanted there to be an actual exorcism scene.
  • Ceiling Cling: There is a very creepy moment where an old woman skitters by the protagonist... on the ceiling.
  • Confessional: A brutal murder occurs in one offscreen.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the cast. Kinderman wins the Deadpan prize with his story about the carp swimming in his bathtub.
  • Death by Adaptation: Gemini's Father is a Type 2 example. In Legion, the novel this installment was based on, he dies of natural causes, and his death causes the Gemini to lose all his motivation because he can no longer bring him shame and grief; in the movie, he was the Gemini's first victim; after this, the Gemini kept on murdering so he could figuratively continue to kill his father forever.
  • The Dragon: The Gemini Killer to the evil spirit who is helping him.
  • Dream Sequence. The Exorcist III, for Nightmare Fuel.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The above Dream Sequence is Kinderman dreaming of Dyer's murder.
    Kinderman: You know, I wonder if both of us are dreaming this.
  • Eureka Moment:
    Allerton: Do you treat your family this way?!
    (You can almost see the light bulb appear above Kinderman's head.)
  • Evil Sounds Deep: When played by Brad Dourif, the Gemini Killer's voice changes pitch several times in each of his scenes, and often goes unnervingly low; people who have seen Dourif in other movies would likely be very creeped out by how much lower than Dourif's natural range the voice gets.
  • Failed a Spot Check: A frightening example, when a possessed old lady escapes the hospital by crawling across the ceiling, which isn't very high. It's all but outright stated that supernatural forces are at work to keep people from noticing her.
  • Foreshadowing: "Do you dance?"
  • Hannibal Lecture. Brad Dourif out-Hannibal Lectures Hannibal Lecter; The Exorcist III was released a year before The Silence of the Lambs.
    The Gemini Killer: It's too bad about Father Dyer. I killed him, you know. An interesting problem, but finally... it worked! First, a bit of the ole succinylcholine to permit one to work without, ah, annoying distractions, then... a three foot catheter threaded directly into the inferior vena cava — or, superior vena cava. It's a matter of taste, I think, don't you? Then the tube moves through the vein, under the crease of the arm, into the vein that leads directly into the heart, and then, you just hold up the legs and you SQUEEZE the blood manually into the tube from the arms and the legs. There's a little shaking and pounding at the end for the dregs — it isn't perfect, there's a little blood left I'm afraid. BUT, regardless, the overall effect is astonishing! And isn't that REALLY what counts in the end? Yes GOOD SHOW BIZ, Lieutenant, the EFFECT! And then, off comes the head without spilling one single drop of blood. Now I call that SHOWMANSHIP, Lieutenant!
  • Jump Scare: Poor Nurse Keating.
  • Large Ham. The Exorcist III has George C. Scott in his hammiest role, ever.
    Kinderman: Yes, I believe... I believe in death. I believe in disease'. I believe in injustice and inhumanity and torture and anger and hate... I believe in murder. I BELIEVE IN PAIN. I believe in cruelty and infidelity. I believe in slime and stink and every crawling, putrid thing... every possible ugliness and corruption, YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH! I BELIEVE... in you.
    • Meanwhile, Brad Dourif's The Gemini Killer Lampshades this after an outburst ("But the main thing is the torment of your friend Father Karras as he watches while I rip and cut and mutilate the innocent, his friends, and again, and again, on and on! HE'S INSIDE WITH US! HE'LL NEVER GET AWAY! HIS PAIN WON'T END!) he sheepishly apologizes: "Gracious me. Was I raving? Please forgive me. I'm mad."
  • Mercy Kill:
    Patient X: We won, Bill...now...free me.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Most of The Exorcist III derives its horror from implication and verbal speeches. And it works.
  • The Nth Doctor: The Gemini Killer switches actors depending on whether the audience is seeing things from Kinderman's perspetive (in which he's played by Jason Miller) or from the "eyes of faith" perspective (where he's played by Brad Dourif).
  • Posthumous Character: Thomas is killed either before the movie even starts or right after the opening credits (depending on how much of the credits sequence was just Patient X's dream), but is a big reason for Kinderman's personal interest in the case, actually shows up in Kinderman's nightmare, and don't get started on how he plays into the climatic showdown.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Father Dyer.
  • Serial Killer: The Gemini Killer.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Kinderman, after The Gemini Killer gets a little too graphic.
    Gemini Killer: (after Kinderman breaks his nose, mockingly) Oooh, a few boos from the peanut gallery.
  • Shout-Out: The nurse Lisa in Silent Hill is based off of a scene with a nurse in a red sweater.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Father Dyer.
  • Surreal Horror:
    • The opening credits
    • Kinderman's nightmare
    • Brad Dourif's voice changing pitch throughout each of his scenes.
  • Uncanny Valley: Invoked with the animatronic grinning pianists at Grand Central during the Dream Sequence for Nightmare Fuel.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Nurse Allerton gives one near the end of the film to Kinderman, which leads to a Eureka Moment for the cop.