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Legion (1990): An Exorcist III fanedit by Spicediver
Edit released: March 2011
Original running time: 105 minutes (PAL)
Fanedit running time: 93 minutes (PAL)
Formats: MP4 (with AAC 2.0 audio), MKV and DVD (both with AC3 2.0 Dolby PLII Surround audio)
Audio bitrate (CBR): 256kbps
Video bitrate (average VBR 2-pass): 2500kbps h.264 (MKV and MP4), 6050kbps (DVD)
15 years after the events of the first story, Georgetown policeman Bill Kinderman (GEORGE C SCOTT) is baffled by a series of murders that bare the marks of the Gemini Killer.
Yet the Gemini was executed 15 years previously - on the very same night Kinderman saw priest Damien Karras (JASON MILLER) die after falling from a bedroom window during an exorcism on teenager Regan McNeil.
Kinderman's trail leads to the local hospital and a high-security isolation ward where a formally catatonic patient claims to be the Gemini Killer (BRAD DOURIF)...yet who looks exactly like Damien Karras.
In 1990 writer/director William Peter Blatty shot a loose adaptation of his novel LEGION, misleadingly retitled and released as EXORCIST III. The film is an unusual, dialogue-driven blend of humour, police procedural and religious horror, a semi-sequel to his novel and screenplay of THE EXORCIST (1973).
Spicediver’s reworking of the film is more in line with LEGION, the low-key film that William Peter Blatty originally shot before studio-enforced changes.
Although his shooting script was substantially different from both his novel and an early adapted screenplay, the studio infamously ordered its own changes after viewing his director’s cut. These included adding an awkward ‘exorcism’ subplot and ‘exorcist’ character - including an overblown finale - where none previously existed. The name was changed to EXORCIST III and all promotion and advertising of the film leaned heavily on the name and added theatrics.
This fanedit removes the ill-fitting exorcism subplot and recreates the lower-key ending that Blatty intended. No exorcism, no exorcist, no bug-eyed Fr. Karras or special effects mayhem.
It also softens or fixes some inconsistencies, tightens some scenes, and ties the film more closely with the character of Fr Damien Karras from THE EXORCIST.
While aiming to be faithful in spirit to the shooting script as it stood at the start of filming, that version of the script remains unpublished and all cut footage is now believed lost. The story therefore has been re-imagined with available materials.
WHAT TO EXPECT
LEGION is about a different kind of demonic possession.
Blatty never intended a repeat of THE EXORCIST and the story that he intended to tell in his director's cut is not a movie for everyone. It's character-driven, quirky, sometimes funny, relatively low-key and it shuns theatrics in favour of dialogue, punctuated by occasional well-executed shocks.
It is not a traditional horror film by any means and neither is it a traditional sequel. Its style and tone is very different from THE EXORCIST and viewers hoping for more of the same will be dissapointed. The studio tried to mimic some of that tone with its added exorcism and exorcist which Blatty later said was "... utterly unnecessary and changes the character of the piece".
EDITS/CUTS/ADDITIONS & MAIN FEATURES
* Approx. 15 minutes cut, 3 minutes added
* A recreation of the shooting script's ending, closer to Blatty's intentions
* A coda, shorter and different from the original
* No exorcist Father Morning and no exorcism
* New B&W prologue of Fr Karras' final moments, using footage from THE EXORCIST
* Several new lines of dialogue and several altered lines
* Quite a few other little changes and remixes
TO GIVE THE DEVIL HIS DUE...
Although most of the changes ordered by the studio hurt the film, one late decision actually improved it: the casting of Exorcist star Jason Miller.
At first, all scenes in the isolation cell had been shot with Brad Dourif playing the possessed Father Karras and Blatty loved his performance. Forced to accept the recasting of Miller and faced with the unpleasant decision of replacing Dourif completely, Blatty hit upon the brilliant idea of using *both* actors to portray the two personalities inhabiting Karras's body: who Kinderman actually sees (Karras) versus who kinderman is mostly talking to (The Gemini Killer).
While all of Dourif's scenes in the isolation cell were re-shot on a new set, the dual actor idea meant that most of Dourif's mesmerising performance is preserved.
FURTHER READING ON THE FILM'S PRODUCTION CONTROVERSIES
Also check out Blatty's book "Classic Screenplays - The Exorcist & Legion" (Faber & Faber, 1998) with an introduction by film critic Mark Kermode about the movie's troubled production.
This book contains an early Legion screenplay with an entirely different ending - where the Gemini Killer simply drops dead in his cell after his father dies - and a related subplot about his abusive father in the form of childhood flashbacks. This published version never found studio financing and is *not* the Legion shooting script.
WHAT WOULD A DIRECTORS CUT LOOK LIKE?
William Peter Blatty has long expressed a desire to assemble and release his original cut should Morgan Creek Productions ever find the lost footage.
Conspiracy theorists will delight in the possibility that the cut footage is not really lost at all and that the studio is being less than truthful in the matter. Morgan Creek's creative interference during production of both EXORCIST III and the fourth Exorcist film DOMINION/THE BEGINNING has seen the studio embarrass itself not just once but twice with the franchise. Pride and politics may be the problem here, not missing cans of celluloid.
The LEGION shooting script is unpublished, so its exact contents remain unknown to all but a relative few people. However based on published articles, interviews and the published early Legion screenplay, it's reasonable to assume that that Blatty's original cut would differ from Spicediver's LEGION fanedit in the following ways:
1) No Jason Miller as Father Damien Karras.
As hard as it may be to imagine now, in the original cut Karras is actually played by Brad Dourif - there is no switching back and forth between actors to symbolise the dual personalities inhabiting Karras body. Jason Miller was reportedly on a writing assignment at the time of casting, so Dourif got the part. To better connect LEGION with the first film, Blatty shot a prologue featuring Dourif as Karras' in the final minutes of THE EXORCIST. Also shot for this same prologue was a scene where Kinderman (George C Scott, presumably without grey hair) views Karras' body in the morgue. After he leaves we see a heart monitor, at first apparently silent, showing ominous signs of life.
2) The exhumation of Father Damien Karras' body.
This scene in the local Jesuit cemetery belongs about halfway through the film. It was shot but for reasons unknown was left out of the final cut. The body is later discovered to be Brother Fain, an old Jesuit who was tending Karras' body before burial and who disappeared from the priesthood 15 years ago. A follow-up scene where this plot point is uncovered by Kinderman and the Jesuit President may or may not have been filmed. The scene certainly exists in Blatty's first screenplay adaption and one presumes it was in the shooting script, in order to give the exhumation scene some context.
Snippets of the exhumation scene survive in the form of a "faked" funeral which closes EXORCIST III.
3) A different isolation cell.
Publicity stills shot before late changes to the film show Dourif sitting in a sparse cell against a brick wall, obviously a different set. When Jason Miller was cast late in production all the isolation cell scenes were re-shot on a new set with both Miller and Dourif featured. Blatty was reportedly happy to reshoot anyway as he disliked the original cell. Dourif thought
otherwise, saying he felt his best performances happened during the original shoot. Seeing Dourif's fine performance in EXORCIST III, you might find it hard to imagine a better turn.
4) A different setting for the final scene.
Given that the brick-walled cell seen in publicity stills was the setting in Blatty's original cut, the final scene where Kinderman returns to the cell and executes Karras/The Gemini would take place against a different backdrop.
DVD, MKV and MP4 may be available at www.fanedit.info.