I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Editor
THE EXORCIST III: Collector’s Edition
Rated R, 110 min. (105 min. – Director’s Cut)
Director: William Peter Blatty
Cast: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif, Jason Miller, Nicol Williamson, Scott Wilson and Nancy Fish
It’s a common thing in Hollywood: Movies have trouble moving forward and are trapped in eternal development hell with no chance of getting out. However, some movies manage to push through the fire.
THE EXORCIST III is notorious for its complications of making it to the screen. Its script went through the ringer several times, which included having the film’s title changed (originally LEGION) and adding a scene of actual exorcism to market the film better.
Despite the odds against him, author-filmmaker William Peter Blatty (who penned the original EXORCIST novel and the one this is based on) survived the studio’s demands to craft one of the more exceptional horror films you’ll come across.
Set 15 years after the original film (and ignoring the events of EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC), the film centers on a character from the first film, Police Lt. William Kinderman (George C. Scott, played before by the late Lee J. Cobb). Kinderman uncovers more than he anticipated with a case involving a series of baffling murders that have the hallmarks of “The Gemini,” a deceased serial killer (a showstopping Brad Dourif).
While chilling to boot (especially one long take involving a nurse being followed by a figure with shears), you can’t help but notice a lot doesn’t make much sense. It’s as if it’s two films rolled into one: the director’s and the studio’s.
However, as a favor to fans and Blatty himself, Shout Factory (a home entertainment distribution outlet) partnered up with Morgan Creek Productions to assemble the best version of Blatty’s original vision they could: the director’s cut.
Now, the director’s cut adds more of what the theatrical cut was lacking, such as giving Dourif a fuller performance with more scenes and eliminating another character from the first film, which only made the theatrical cut more head-scratching.
Both versions are not perfect and neither one is better than the other — they are just different takes of the different story — but something tells me, in time, the director’s cut will be the preferred version.
THE EXORCIST III is available through ShoutFactory.com and other fine retailers.
Extras: The Collector’s Edition has over four hours of special features. Among some deleted scenes and vintage featurettes, the set includes a new audio commentary with Blatty, new interviews with the cast and crew, as well as a featurette titled All This Bleeding, which is a look at the re-shoot and makeup effects.
Actor turned filmmaker Matt Ross (SILICON VALLEY) crafts a story about a devoted father named Ben (a captivating Viggo Mortensen) who gave up his professional career to move his family to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where they can live in harmony with the natural world. But then tragedy strikes, and the family must venture outside its self-created paradise to face the challenges of modern civilization, which doesn’t exactly understand their outlandish ways.
Supported by fine performances and the year’s sharpest script, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC awakens an inner dialogue in audiences about the way we live our lives based on societal influences. Ross’ film doesn’t advise us to drop everything and move to the wilderness. It simply suggests we step back and reflect on the material goods and values that are important.
- Movie Review: CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, a fascinating portrait of typical family living atypical life (Preston Barta)
- Navigating the tricky waters of parenthood with Matt Ross, writer-director of CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (P.B.)
Extras: Insane or Insanely Great — a featurette that gives insight into the inspiration behind the film and the process of making it.
Ghost stories have been done to death, but James Wan (THE CONJURING 2) knows a thing or two about feeding you nightmares and making you shriek. His latest production, LIGHTS OUT, puts forth a simple but effective concept: A brother (Gabriel Bateman) and sister (Teresa Palmer) encounter a malicious entity that has an attachment to their mother (Maria Bello).
It’s very seldom you find a horror film with actual scares, human characters you can care for and an idea to get excited about, but filmmaker David F. Sandberg (who’s also behind the upcoming ANNABELLE 2) finds a way to do so.
- Movie Review: LIGHTS OUT – Are you afraid of the dark? (Courtney Howard)
- Exclusive Interview: Screenwriter Eric Heisserer on building the terror of LIGHTS OUT (C.H.)
Extras: Deleted scenes.
Thinking about how hot Pokemon Go was earlier this year, the idea that we’re not too far away from an actual game like the one posed in NERVE is a scary thought. Starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, the film indulges in an online game of truth or dare, where every move seems to be calculated by an anonymous group of watchers with a sinister plot. The premise fits in with current teen culture and the film walks a fine line of ridiculous and fun.
Extras: The film’s extras are unique, coming with a “watcher” and “player.” This is a nod to the movie, but the features themselves are just a creative way of showcasing the normal stuff, like outtakes and player profiles.
Also available on DVD and streaming: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: THE ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS (1997), THE EXECUTIONER (1963): Criterion Collection, THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (Blu-ray release – our review), MAD MAX: High Octane Collection (our review), MEN & CHICKEN (our review), MR. CHURCH and SKIPTRACE.