Directors:  William Friedkin, John Boorman, William Peter Blatty

Starring: Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Richard Burton, George C. Scott

Warner Home Videoís Exorcist DVD Trilogy collects the three canonical movies in one bijou box set: a fold-out digipack in a hard, matt finish, gold-embossed casing (one of the nicest examples of DVD packaging we've seen).

The first film is represented by the dual-sided Special Edition DVD of Friedkinís seminal movie (the UK version of the 25th Anniversary Edition). Itís a bit of a mystery why Warner didnít re-press it as a dual-layer disc for aesthetic reasons, so that all the discs in the box set would be picture discs (they match the background image on the digipack). This would also have made it more convenient for viewers. It's a shame that Warner Home Video didn't take the opportunity to upgrade the disc to include the longer version of The Fear of God documentary, which is still only available in its extended version on the Region 1 disc. (The version in the box set still doesn't have chapter markers, but since there's no chapter listing for the documentary this time (or for the films themselves, for that matter) it's of no consequence). 

The second disc presents the extended (112'51") version of John Boormanís extraordinary Exorcist II - The Heretic, which made its UK home video debut in 1997, as part of Warnerís Terror Vision collection. The film is presented in 1.85:1 ratio, with anamorphic enhancement. The disc comes with an alternate two-minute opening sequence (which recaps the original movie, and adds a brief exterior shot to the filmís startling opening sequence, Father Lamont (Richard Burton) arriving at the chapel, to perform an exorcism). This material was added to the beginning of the shorter, theatrical, version of the film (102'29", according to the BBFC website), after Boorman re-cut the movie, following its disastrous premiere. The disc also contains a teaser trailer and full theatrical trailer. The film has mono audio at 192kbps.

The Exorcist III is a terrific finale to the series, with some very chilling moments. Although George C. Scott makes an uncharismatic lead, Brad Dourif makes up for it with a creepy performance as the Gemini Killer. The film is presented in 1.85:1 ratio, with anamorphic enhancement. The audio is a rather smart Dolby Digital 5.1 mix at 384kbps. The disc features a teaser trailer, made while it still had the subtitle Legion, but lacks the full trailer, which contained at least one shot that didnít feature in the completed movie.

German "Exorcist III" front of house still: the notorious decapitated priest shotThe DVD Trilogy box set is unforgivably lazy: virtually no effort has been expended on the two sequels.  John Boorman's thoughts on The Exorcist II, for example, would have been fascinating, (he's certainly not adverse to contributing commentary tracks, as Zardoz testifies). This is a common complaint with many DVD box sets - all the attention is paid to the first movie, and nothing to the sequels (The Omen box set is another example). 

Both sequels had troubled production histories (the studio, not unreasonably, perhaps, demanded the inclusion of an exorcism scene in The Exorcist III, and the resulting sequence sticks out like a sore thumb) , but the box set doesnít even contain production notes to fill in some of the background. It's also missing any deleted footage (including the notorious shot of the decapitated priest with his head in his lap, from The Exorcist III, for example).

RELATED ARTICLE: The Exorcist - UK Home Video History








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