Sunday, November 4, 2018

Exorci Triple Feature

Hidey-ho, everyone. I’ll bet you’ve been wondering where I’ve been. Well, I’ve been stuck doing this:

Oh, what’s that, you ask? That is about four straight days of pure unadulterated hell. It’s my database class, my supposed easy A class. Boy, was I wrong.

But that’s just four days, you say? Yeah, I’ve been caught up doing other more pleasant things. May I take this moment to announce that I will be turning this blog into a YouTube Channel!

That’s right. At some point(hopefully, soon) you will see a link to my new channel in place of my blog entries, aptly titled “Will Twerk for Horror Movies”. I do hope you enjoy it.

Now, for the task at hand. As promised, this week, I’ll be reviewing the Exorcist series. Now, before I said that I have only seen the last two Exorcists, but as it turns out, I hadn’t actually seen part three. So that means that this SHOULD be a triple feature. It’s not though. It’s only a double. I’ll explain as we go.

First up, The Exorcist III starring George C. Scott, Brad Dourif, Ed Flanders (no relation to Ned) and Jason Miller, Nicol Williamson.

The third installment takes place some fifteen years after the first one and begins with Detective Kinderman(Scott) a grisly, curmudgeonly cop who clearly excelled at philosophy at the academy. He spends much of the movie switching between proverbs and grouchy old manspeak while investigating the murder of a 12-year-old boy.

Kinderman has a bestie, Father Dyer(Flanders) who is just as grouchy, but also religious. The two of them go to see their favorite movie together, which happens to be It’s A Wonderful Life. Soon thereafter, a priest is decapitated, and Father Dyer is called to investigate.

The murder bears a striking resemblance to the work of a serial killer who went by the name of “Gemini” killer. Unfortunately, that guy was executed. Leaving Kinderman to believe that this may be the work of a copycat.

Shortly after that, Father Dyer is hospitalized and then murdered. Kinderman again suspects it’s the work of the Gemini killer or at least someone who’s out to get him, because this time, the killer leaves him a little love note.

At this point, Kinderman starts to put some pieces together, like the victims being marked with the Gemini symbol and certain fingers being chopped off, etc and so forth. During all that, he gets wind a mysterious psychiatric patient who claims to be the Gemini Killer. Kinderman is doubtful, but he goes to the psych hospital anyway to check it out.

Oh, wait, wait. I almost forgot. There's a weird dream sequence where Kinderman sees his bestie in heaven. Which is more like a train station...of sorts?

Anyway, that's not what's weird. What's weird is...well...

I don't know why Fabio and Patrick Ewing were tapped for cameos in this movie, but...yeah, moving on.

The patient (Dourif, then Miller, then later Dourif again) tells him that yes, he is the killer AND he killed Father Dyer AND yes, he does kind of look like his old friend Father Karras (From the first movie. The young priest that bought it on the stairs at the end), not that he knows who that is.

We need to take a minute to comment on Dourif’s acting in these scenes. He comes off as positively chilling in his delivery. It was captivating.

So, Father Kinderman is not getting with the program that something supernatural is going on here. He’s convinced that the patient is just crazy and is somehow getting out of his padded cell to kill people. While he’s trying to figure that out, the doctor overseeing his care and a nurse are killed.

Kinderman goes back to Gemini who tells him that way back in the day there was this kid that was possessed and Father Karras managed to get the spirit out of her, but then, he put the spirit of the Gemini Killer in him when he died and now, NOW, he’s pulling the whole Denzel Washington in Fallen routine and inhabiting the bodies of the elderly and senile to commit his heinous crimes. Oh, and hey, hey, don’t you have a family?

Kinderman realizes that Gemini is planning to hurt his family by sending a kindly little old lady to his house. Fortunately, he reaches the house just in time to save his daughter and wife.

Meanwhile, Father Morning – a priest from the Vatican, tracks down the Gemini guy and tries the whole “The Power of Christ Compels You” routine. Unfortunately, he gets his butt handed to him. Gemini would still by kicking Father Morning’s butt if not for Kinderman, who rushes in just in time to save the day.

Kinderman gets thrown around the room himself for a while before Father Morning tells Father Karras to “Fight him”. That works, just long enough for the real Father Karras to look up at Kinderman and beg him to set him free. Kinderman does what any of us would do for our besties in such situations. He shoots him in the head.

And they all live happily ever after.

Okay, so next in the series is The Exorcist: The Beginning starring Bill and Alexander’s dad Stellan Skarsgard, Izabella Scorupco, James D’Arcy, Ben Cross (fangirl scream), Julian Wadham and Alan Ford.

So, this one takes place during the forties. Specifically, right after World War II. Father Lankester Merrin (Skarsgard) is called to Africa after a strange underground church has been unearthed.

And yes, that’s the same Father Merrin from the very first movie. See, this story follows the first time he finds Pazuzu – the evil demon that possessed Regan in the first movie.

So, Father Merrin begins this story as a disillusioned priest. When he was in Germany, you see, Nazi’s forced him to murder ten villagers in order to save the entire village. Needless to say, it shook his faith a little bit. So, he leaves the church to study archeology in East Africa. There, he runs into a mysterious antique dealer (Cross) who gives him a small idol and tells him about this archeological dig that he needs to check out. Father Merrin says okay, and the dealer tells him where to go.

Pause for a moment to acknowledge one of my childhood crushes. Here’s something that only the nerds of a certain age know. Ben Cross played a pretty sweet Barnabas Collins in the short-lived Dark Shadows remake back in the nineties.


So, anyway, Father Merrin goes to the dig, but not before being joined by Father Francis(D’Arcy), a priest sent by the Vatican because of the rumors of what might lie at the dig. He’s also waaay too attractive to be in this movie, but, I digress.

When he gets there, we get a whole Mousketeer Roll Call of characters. There’s Major Granville(Wadham), the chief excavator, Jeffries(Ford) who is in desperate need of a bath and some ProActiv, and the love interest doctor, Sarah Novak(Scorupco) – who spent some time in a concentration camp and, like Merrin, has issues because of what happened to her.

Oh, and there’s the translator, Chuma who’s there to…translate.

So, Chuma tells Merrin that men have been disappearing by the truckloads. Some have legit disappeared, but others have left because the locals have been telling people the site is cursed. Shortly after finding that out, a digger has a seizure. A demon seizure.

Merrin gets to the actual site to find that a large dome of an ancient church has been uncovered. He climbs in through the top with Father Hotpants and finds that the church is beautifully preserved…except for a couple of weird things. For one, the angel statues have swords and are pointed downwards. Father Merrin points out that normally if angel statues are armed, the swords point towards heaven. He suggests that it means that the angels are trying to restrain something.

The second and most important detail that they notice is that the large crucifix in the sanctuary has been ripped out of its base and hung upside down. Father SweetThang suggests vandals, but Merrin is doubtful – for obvious reasons.

This piques Merrin’s interest so he seeks out the lead archeologist of the dig. Sarah tells him that he went nuts and was carted off to an asylum. Merrin, who still wants to get to know the guy even after seeing the crazy stuff in the tent he left behind, goes to said asylum to get answers.

So, he meets up with the lead archeologist who he quickly discovers is really not okay. He’s got a swastika carved on his chest and, AND, he’s talking in the voice of the Nazi commander that tormented Merrin all those years ago. Then, he talks about how he’s free and slits his throat…you know, as the possessed tend to do.

When Merrin asks the head doctor about him, the doctor tells him that he wasn’t possessed at all. He was just “touched” by a demon and that’s what drove him crazy. Merrin’s like…huh. That’s interesting. The head doctor gives him the standard “How to exorcise a demon” handbook, just in case.

Merrin returns to the site and finds weird stuff happening. For one thing, Hyenas seem to be circling the site…which is odd in any circumstance, but things get ramped up when hyenas attack and murder a boy in front of his younger brother. The younger brother gets sick soon after and then, possessed, because that’s when happens in Exorcist movies.
But then, THEN, the chief of the village’s wife goes into labor and gives birth to a maggot infested stillborn baby. Ew.

Merrin also discovers a passageway that leads to a pagan ritual site where people were sacrificed. He also finds…

That’s right! A statue of Pazuzu!

When he returns and learns that the stillborn baby was cremated, he starts to think back to when he first got to the site…and the fact that there were lots of gravestones…that were supposedly the villagers…the villagers that don’t bury their dead. You see where I’m going with this.

So, he goes to the grave site and starts digging up one of the graves under the watchful eye of demon hyenas. Lo and Behold, no bodies.

He confronts Father Sexyman about this new development and is told that the real reason the father was sent there was because about 1,500 years ago there was a great army who arrived at a site that was considered the origin of evil. The evil of the site caused everyone to kill each other except for one priest. The priest made it back to Rome and told the Emperor what happened. The emperor had a church built there and immediately had it buried to seal in the evil. The story was never recorded in the Vatican reference except vaguely in a few sealed records. That reference was found in the 1800s and four priests came out to investigate with some tribesmen. Needless to say, everybody disappeared. The Vatican ordered the fake graveyard to be built and told everyone that it was a plague that wiped them all out.

Uh-huh. So.

When the British stumbled on the site, the Vatican sent Father Yummythighs to see if there was any truth to the legend. You see, the Vatican believed that the site was the place where Lucifer fell from heaven.

So, while all this is going on, the devil has been messing with Dr. Sarah in a bunch of messed up ways. When Merrin goes to look for her, she’s gone. He finds her in the church where he finds she’s been possessed. In an epic showdown that ends up in the pagan temple in the passageway under the church, Merrin defeats the demon and escapes as the church is buried once again under the earth.

He returns to the antique dealer who asks him if he found anything interesting. Father Merrin, who now wears his collar, tells him Nope and walks away, renewed his faith.

And they all live happily ever after.

So, the fifth Exorcist movie isn’t even worth mentioning, really, but here we go. I promise I’ll make this quick.

The Exorcist: Dominion Prequel to the Exorcist starring Bill and Alexander’s dad Stellan Skarsgard, Gabriel Mann, Clara Bellar, Billy Crawford, and Julian Wadham.

I could sit here and go over the summary with you, but I’m just gonna save us all some time and tell you that this movie was the same. Damn. Movie.

Same Plot. Same lead actor. Just not good. Kind of like what I imagine purgatory to be. Like real life, just a little worse and a lot more racist.

So, a few points. Father Cutie-pie is now played by Gabriel Mann, who, to his credit, is not ugly, but…well…he's all right.

Dr. Sarah Novak is now Dr. Rachel Lesno(Bellar). There’s no Ben Cross (Fangirl boo) and instead of the local boy becoming possessed, the local leper(Crawford) gets possessed. The leper who’s not African? Not sure why he’s of lighter skin than the locals and they don’t explain it. Is he British? If he’s British, why aren’t the British taking care of him? Is he albino?

I’m not screaming racism here, folks and I’m not normally a stickler for historical accuracy, but here’s the thing. It’s 1940s Africa among the tribal nations. Why is a random white guy among them? Was he dropped off by the British because he’s a leper? More importantly, why did they trade him in for the little boy in the last movie? Is he somehow more sympathetic than an innocent little boy? Such casting decisions deserve some explanation. Particularly since the locals don’t mess with him. Is it because he’s white or a leper? 

But wait! It gets worse! The hyenas. Oh, my dear lord, the hyenas.

I mean, come on! They were part bad photoshop and part 1970s Jaws shark. I mean, jeez, SOME effort would have been nice.

So, it’s the same story except…well, bad. Just bad. Just really, really not good. Bad like sour milk bad. They unintentionally made a parody of the previous movie.

So, all that being said, what’s the verdict?

Well, Exorcist III and IV both get jewels. They were just very well done with traces of the original all through them. Fine acting, decently thought-out plot, and overall, way better than expected for sequels.

The last one? Oh, you already know.

So, next week we’re back in the groove with “The Eyes of My Mother”. As usual, I have no expectations, but the cover looks promising.


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