Fan-Written ICHF: The Gemini Killer

This ICHF was written by Nickel Smart. This article discusses the theatrical release of Exorcist III instead of the director’s cut or the novel Legion.

If you were to ask a random person what the scariest film ever made is, chances are one of the first films they’ll mention is The Exorcist from 1973. Whether or not you believe this to be true, the film is widely respected by horror fans because of its themes, realistic quality, phenomenal writing, and an intensity rivaled by few in the genre. In fact, its one of the few horror films that received Oscar nominations, as it was nominated for ten Academy Awards, managing to win the awards for Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay, as it was based off the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty. To this day, the impact that The Exorcist has had on both cinema and pop culture can be felt almost 50 years after its initial release.

Because of its success, the film received a sequel in 1977 called Exorcist II: The Heretic. While I admittedly haven’t seen the film, the general consensus is that the film is pretty bad. So much so that William Peter Blatty wrote his own loose sequel in the form of a novel called Legion, which was released in 1983. This novel was then adapted by Blatty himself into one of the greatest horror film sequels of all time as The Exorcist III.

The film begins with returning character Lieutenant Kinderman, now played by George C. Scott, investigating the murder of Thomas Kintry, a young black boy who was a member of the Police Boys Club. When discussing the case with his best friend and fellow returning character Father Dyer, Kinderman says that the boy was decapitated crucified on a pair of rowing oars, with ingots driven into his eyes and his head being replaced by a head of a Jesus statue painted in blackface. We later find out that Kintry didn’t die from the decapitation, but from being injected by the drug succinylcholine, both paralyzing and keeping him conscious as he was being mutilated until he died of asphyxiation.

The scene then cuts to a church confessional with a priest named Father Kanavan, where he talks to someone completely obscured by shadow. The person then reveals that they’ve killed 17 people, the first being a waitress whose throat was cut and the killer watching her bleed the whole time. They then say that they’re working on all this bleeding and proceeds to laugh at a horrified Kanavan. The scene cuts to a woman in hysterics due to finding his unseen body, while an old woman leaves. After investigating the crime scene, Kinderman and the rest of the investigators discuss what appeared to have happened, as they found that Kanavan’s vocal cords were paralyzed so he wouldn’t scream, confirming the use of succinylcholine yet again and determining the killer has medical expertise. It is also determined that the killer’s fingerprints are on the confessional panel, but this is complicated in the fact that the prints don’t match the prints on the oars Kintry were crucified on.

After an interesting dream sequence involving a heavenly train terminal, Kinderman learns that Dyer, who was in the hospital at the time is now the newest victim of the murderer. The killer drained Dyer’s entire blood supply into jars and wrote “It’s A Wonderfull Life” in his blood on the wall. After locking down the hospital, Kinderman learns from the head nurse that the last person who saw Dyer was Mrs. Clelia, a patient in the neurology ward that happens to be quasi-catatonic, though she is unusually talkative with Kinderman about her radio. Kinderman then investigates the disturbed ward and seems to hear a patient with a familiar voice calling his name from Cell 11, though he can’t investigate further as he is called by the head of the hospital to explain his actions. Before the scene cuts, we hear the patient recite a modified version of the opening of John Donne’s “Sonnet X”, also known as “Death Be Not Proud.”

While being interrogated by the head of the hospital, Kinderman reveals that the three murders resemble the work of a deceased serial killer called the Gemini Killer, real name James Venamun. The Gemini is an obvious reference to the real-life Zodiac Killer, who stated in one of his letters that The Exorcist is his favorite movie of all time. The Gemini’s modus operandi that was known to the public was that the victim was beheaded, the middle finger of the victim’s left hand was severed, and the sign of the Gemini was carved on the victim’s back. However, Kinderman reveals that the MO the public knows is false because previous investigators misinformed the press in order to weed out people taking responsibilities for the killings. In actuality, the right index finger was severed, and the symbol was carved in the victim’s left-hand palm, which was only known by Richmond Homicide. But now, there are three murders that perfectly match the Gemini’s previous killings. Kinderman also reveals that when the Gemini wrote to the papers to brag about his crimes, he always doubled his final L’s like “wonderfull.” Finally, his victims always had names that begin with K, like his evangelist father Karl, who he hated and wanted to shame and kill. Thomas Kintry. Father Kanavan. Father Joseph Kevin Dyer.

In the next scene, Kinderman deduces that the murder weapon is a pair of large spring activated gardening shears, as a pair went missing recently. Kinderman then meets with Father Riley, who Dyer worked under, to see if a possible religious connection exists between the murders. Riley concludes that it may have to do with the exorcism of Regan MacNeil from the original film, the one that killed Kinderman’s friend Damien Karras. This is because Dyer was a friend of the MacNeil family, Kanavan was the one who gave Damien permission to perform the exorcism, and Kintry’s mother analyzed the tape of Regan speaking backwards. He also references a priest named Father Morning who performed an exorcism in the Philippines that turned his hair white, who, in the next scene, senses the evil forces at work.

Kinderman then learns that the fingerprints on the jars in Dyer’s room belong to Mrs. Clelia, though she doesn’t answer his questions. Kinderman then meets with Dr. Temple, head of the neurology ward, who informs him that the patient in Cell 11 was brought in by the police 15 years prior on the night of the exorcism with no ID or memory of what happened to him and later became catatonic. Six weeks earlier, the patient started to come out of his trance, getting just a little better each day. However, he soon became violent and was placed in the disturbed ward. Now, this man is saying that he is the Gemini Killer. The scene cuts to a horrified Kinderman backing out of the cell and obtains the patient’s file, though it doesn’t reveal if the man was injured or if he was wearing the clothes of a priest. Kinderman then confides to fellow investigator Seargent Atkins that he believes the man in Cell 11 is the supposedly dead Damien Karras. The scene then cuts to Kinderman reentering the cell and we finally see the patient and he looks and sounds exactly like Damien Karras, even being played yet again by Jason Miller.

Despite his appearance and voice, the man’s behavior does not match the good priest in any way. Where Karras was a flawed yet ultimately good man, the patient is cruel and callous, declaring he is the Gemini and delightfully describing a Gemini murder that was never told to the press. He also confesses to killing Kintry and the priests, as well as acknowledging the K’s that began their names, as well as revealing that he was obliged to settle the score on behalf of a friend on the other side. When Kinderman asks who he is talking about, the patient makes what is clearly an inhuman roar and says that he was taught by someone he calls The Master. He tells Kinderman to tell the press that the murders committed are Gemini killings. When Kinderman says that the Gemini is dead, the man starts screaming that he is alive, though if Kinderman had the eyes of faith, he’d see the truth. However, the audience does see the true face of the Gemini, as Brad Douriff now sits where Jason Miller was.

Now, this fact cannot be overstated enough: Brad Douriff as the Gemini Killer is one of the greatest and scariest performances in all of horror cinema. He goes from threatening Kinderman to singing with the voice of a woman to talking about Shakespeare to gleefully describing him showing the decapitated heads of his victims their bodies before they stop seeing. Douriff’s voice is also edited to sound deeper than it actually is in real life, though there are moments when you hear his real voice. Douriff’s performance captures a level of madness surpassing the likes of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Even with all the other phenomenal aspects of the film, it is worth seeing just because of this phenomenal performance.

After brutally describing how he drained Father Dyer’s blood supply and receiving a broken nose from Kinderman in the process, the patient goes unconscious. Kinderman then learns from the head nurse that not only is this the first time that the man has passed out, but when he does his brain wave activity accelerates. She also mentions that one time, the man muttered the phrase “save your servant” in a way that felt very different from how he is normally. Kinderman then learns the phrase comes from the rite for exorcism, which you can actually hear be recited during the first film’s exorcism. Also, when Kinderman is looking over the Gemini’s file, we see that his mugshot, confirming the man Brad Douriff plays is indeed the Gemini. This then leads to another murder and one of the greatest jump scares ever made, the victim being a nurse named Amy Keating. Her body was slit down the middle, her vital organs were removed, and sewed back up after being stuffed with Catholic rosaries. To make matters worse, Kinderman discovers that Dr. Temple has died by suicide.

When Kinderman meets the back with the Gemini, he confirms the killing was meant to be a message for the Lieutenant. He then reveals how he ended up in Damien’s body in one of the greatest monologues in horror history. After he was executed for his crimes, the demon who possessed Regan, Pazuzu, placed the Gemini’s soul in Karras’ body because he wanted the Gemini to continue his work. Karras’ body was selected out of revenge for the successful exorcism, as the use of a priest’s body in the Gemini’s crimes would horrify all who worship the lord. The main reason, however, was the torment brought upon Karras’ soul as he watches innocent people being slaughtered. It is at this point that Brad Douriff unleashes every bit of talent in his body. While he was calm throughout this scene, he is now raving about Karras’s suffering, looking directly into the camera the entire time. Through Blatty’s writing and Douriff’s acting, we witness the human monster unleashed in all of its horror and it is absolutely terrifying. This moment, along with Keating’s death, will stick with you after you watch it. And then, barely even changing expression, the Gemini apologizes about his raving.

Kinderman then, possibly attempting the killer to reveal more, claims he doesn’t believe that he is the Gemini. The Gemini responds that Kinderman is issuing a clear invitation to the dance, which he refuses to elaborate on. The Gemini then says that while Temple’s death wasn’t his fault, he reveals that Temple helped him by bringing Kinderman to him, as he threatened the doctor would suffer pain that cannot be imagined. Despite this, he doesn’t say that Temple was who let him out of his cell, instead saying it’s because of “old friends.” The Gemini yet again demands Kinderman tell the press that he has returned, though he also says he can help with Kinderman’s unbelief and then appears to pass out. Kinderman then hears Karras’ voice crying out for help and Kinderman checks the comatose body, though the Gemini briefly wakes up to taunt him some more before finally succumbing to sleep.

After calling for Father Morning to exorcise the Gemini out of Karras, Kinderman realizes that the Gemini has been possessing the catatonic patients in the neurology ward to kill. Upon arriving there, he finds a nurse’s dead body, realizing that the woman the Gemini is possessing has disguised herself as a nurse. After accidentally mistaking the head nurse for the killer, Kinderman realizes the Gemini is after his daughter Julie, who is a dance student. The Gemini then calls Kinderman’s wife and, while imitating her husbands voice, tells them a nurse is coming over with a package. Once Kinderman arrives home, the Gemini nearly decapitates Julie and nearly kills Kinderman. This doesn’t happen, as once Father Morning arrives at the disturbed ward, Pazuzu takes control of Karras’ body and mortally wounds the priest. When Kinderman returns to the ward to kill the Gemini, Pazuzu proceeds to torment Kinderman before trying to kill him. However, a dying Father Morning manages to awaken Karras’ soul briefly freeing Karras to tell Kinderman to kill him, which he does. The film ends with Kinderman at his funeral, the date on the tombstone showing he died the night of the MacNeil exorcism.

I cannot state enough that The Exorcist III is an absolute masterpiece and is quite possibly the greatest horror film sequel ever, with Douriff’s performance being a key factor. To any horror fans reading this, you absolutely have to watch this film and experience it for yourself.

This entry was posted in Creepy Columns, Gothic Horror Characters, Iconic Characters of Horror Fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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