William Friedkin tells a great story in his autobiography about Warner Bros’ marketing department and how they wanted to market The Exorcist on it’s completion. The idea they came up with was a drawing of Regan’s bloodied hand holding a crucifix (referencing the infamous masturbation scene) with the tagline ‘For God’s sake, somebody help her!’
For obvious reasons he declined this idea. Instead he spoke to them about the Magritte painting The Empire of Light and how he wanted the poster for The Exorcist to be inspired by that.
From this came the iconic poster for his movie. The mystery of Max Von Sydow’s character outside Chris McNeill’s house with light poring out of the window but whilst cloaked in darkness. A poster that is perfect for a masterpiece like The Exorcist. And the general public agreed with the film breaking records faster than cinema ushers could break open smelling salts for patrons who had staggered into the lobby to faint.
A friend of mine went to see the film on it’s first run and said that members of St John’s Ambulance were waiting in the cinema for the inevitable fainters and/or vomiters. Now that’s style.
And whilst we’re at it I’m loving the visual blitz of this UK Exorcist double bill poster. The hot pink is everything.