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10. The Exorcist III: Legion (1990)

Director: William Peter Blatty
Stars: George C. Scott, Brad Dourif, Ed Flanders, Jason Miller, Nicol Williamson

Following up a blockbuster of The Exorcist’s magnitude isn’t easy by any means, but that’s still no excuse for the confusingly inept sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). William Peter Blatty, author of the original Exorcist novel and the 1973 classic’s screenwriter, clearly felt the same way. In 1990, more than a decade after The Heretic partially sullied his brainchild’s good name, Blatty made his directorial introduction with The Exorcist III: Legion and restored all of the previously depleted good faith.

Blatty’s first clever decision was to inject Legion’s plot with a dash of the occult, revolving his consistently unsettling pic around the channeling of a long-dead serial killer who marked his victims with religious symbols. The second wise move was casting George C. Scott as the protagonist, a coup that elevates the film to the upper echelon of credibility. And, last but not least, Blatty takes his time before jolting viewers with paralyzing frights, namely an expertly placed jump scare achieved with a nurse and a pair of shears. Why Blatty hasn’t directed a movie since Exorcist III: Legion is beyond us.

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