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“THE EXORCISM” Interview, Part Two: Joshua John Miller on his dad’s “EXORCIST III” role—and his own “HALLOWEEN III” role

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 | Interviews


Joshua John Miller, director/co-writer of THE EXORCISM (which he discusses with co-scripter M.A. Fortin here), took inspiration from his father Jason Miller’s part in the original THE EXORCIST. Though he hadn’t been born when his dad acted in the William Friedkin/William Peter Blatty classic, he did visit the set of Blatty’s 1990 sequel THE EXORCIST III, in which Jason played “Patient X” (pictured above). Maligned at the time of its release, EXORCIST III has become more celebrated in the years since–and years before, Joshua himself made a brief appearance in another horror threequel that was initially dismissed but has since become a cult fave. At the beginning of a child/teen acting career that also included NEAR DARK, RIVER’S EDGE, TEEN WITCH, CLASS OF 1999 and DEATH WARRANT, he played the son of Tom Atkins’ Dr. Daniel Challis in 1982’s HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH.

“I was around 7,” Miller tells RUE MORGUE of his brief HALLOWEEN III experience. “You know what I remember from that? Debra Hill. I remember there was a woman running the set, with only men around her, and I thought that was so fucking cool. I was like, ‘Oh! Who’s this woman? She seems like she’s really on it.’ I don’t know why, but that’s what I recall the most.

“I also remember going to a screening of that movie,” he continues, “and being a little embarrassed to be in it, because I didn’t think it was very good–and how I came to that when I was 7 years old, I don’t know [laughs]. However, watching it again now, I think it’s rad! That movie is punk rock; it’s a neon horror film, it’s so weird and so cool. I love the music, and it’s such an interesting entry in the whole franchise. I think it’s one of the best. I believe Bryan Fuller was going to remake it at Blumhouse, if I’m remembering correctly, and I don’t know what happened with that. But HALLOWEEN III is really complicated and strange, and talk about a film that feels like it’s addressing issues today about people’s relationship with technology, and how watching a screen is going to make your brain implode! I mean, come on, that movie’s prophetic! I need a HALLOWEEN III T-shirt. Actually, I want a Debra Hill T-shirt!”

At the end of that decade, Miller joined his father on the set of THE EXORCIST III, “which is another one of the most interesting sequels,” he says. “I don’t know if it was Blatty or Friedkin who always said the original movie was a detective drama: You have people trying to figure out what’s happening to this girl, like the doctors and these priests; there’s this whole investigation, right? And what I love about EXORCIST III is that it leans completely into the detective story, and George C. Scott is absolutely brilliant in the role [of Lt. Kinderman]. There’s such a drive there, he has such a mission in his eyes, he’s so determined to solve these murders that I was completely with him. He’s a great character, and fully fleshed out. And some of the scares in the movie–of course the stuff in the hospital–are classic. It’s an underrated film.

“I got to be there when my dad did that, which was cool. But I don’t have any stories, because most of the time he was in a giant, like, refrigerator box on the set at Warner Bros., when he was playing those scenes. At first I thought, ‘Why is my dad doing this?’ You know, ‘Why is he part of a cash cow effort, to ride on the coattails of a classic that he was the star of?’ I thought that was an odd choice, and I still do, but I love the movie now.”

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and in addition to his work for RUE MORGUE, he has been a longtime writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. He has also written for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM,, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM, MOVIEMAKER and others. He is the author of the AD NAUSEAM books (1984 Publishing) and THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press), and he has contributed documentaries, featurettes and liner notes to numerous Blu-rays, including the award-winning feature-length doc TWISTED TALE: THE UNMAKING OF "SPOOKIES" (Vinegar Syndrome).