When William Peter Blatty's novel Legion was turned into THE EXORCIST III, the director and studio battled over a lot of things including the title. Things got much worse for the director when the studio was unhappy with the film he turned in because it didn't feature any sort of exorcism. With the two sides battling the cast and crew were called back in to make an alternate ending, which not only featured an exorcism but also had Jason Miller returning so that they could have a better connection to someone from the original movie.
Sadly, Blatty's original cut has been lost but Shout Factory! did try to assemble something close to it on their latest Blu-ray release. LEGION has been presented on Blu-ray with a ninety-minute documentary on the film as well as a reconstruction of the original director's cut. The only problem is that the majority of the footage has been lost so the studio was forced to use a VHS workprint, which is shown full screen while the rest of the movie is the original 1.85:1. The quality on the new footage is fairly decent for a VHS rip but it is also quite distracting from the rest of the picture. It should also be noted that the opening credits are that of the theatrical version because credits for the original cut weren't done.
So, is the director's cut better? Honestly, I don't think so. This film is hard to judge because it doesn't contain all the original footage and it also suffers from some poor quality but on the whole I don't think this version was better. There's added dialogue sequences between George C. Scott and the Brad Dourif character. There's an additional scene of Scott investigating at the church as well as another scene by Father Karras' grave. The ending is also completely different since there's no exorcism stuff.
The new dialogue sequences certainly help expand on the Dourif character but I'm really not sure this version is any better. The exorcism sequence in the theatrical cut certainly stuck out like a sore thumb but commercially it's easy to see why it was added. I've never felt it hurt the film too bad and I liked the way Miller was used for a connection to the original. I'd also argue that the added scenes here really don't add any suspense and the final showdown between Scott and Dourif doesn't pack that much of a punch.
Still, fans of THE EXORCIST III has screamed for a director's cut for over twenty-five years. This here is the best it's going to get so fans will still want to check this out.
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