The Exorcist (1973) ad art depicting Father Merrin arriving at the MacNeil home to perform an exorcism on a demonically possessed 12 year-old girl (she wasn’t really possessed by the Devil; all 12 year-old girls just act like they are) is one of the most iconic and enduring images in horror movie history.
But history was almost changed with some concept art that was created to advertise what is universally regarded the scariest horror movie of all time, outside of the live feed of my colonoscopy procedure (filmed in Tunnel-Vision™).
Designed by Bill Gold (the guy behind the ad art for Deliverance, Casablanca, Dirty Harry, and A Clockwork Orange), he was neverthess given a specific mandate by Warner Bros. and Exorcist film director William Friedkin on what they didn’t want. In an interview with AFI (American Film Institute), Gold had this to say about that: “We must not use an image of the girl possessed, or show anything that had any hint of religious connotation,” he revealed. “They were very concerned about that.”
Can’t blame them. Religion gets too much attention as it is. Why give ’em free advertising?
A rare rewind back to the ‘70s, here’s a look at several rejected ad concepts for The Exorcist before settling on Father Merrin crapping his pants moments before entering the house of the Devil…
And God bless fans of the Devil — here’s some choice Exorcist fan art, the standout of the bunch by artist Sam Wolfe Connelly…