As Polygon’s resident physical media obsessive, I sift through press releases for hundreds of DVDs, Blu-rays, and 4K discs each year. A majority of marketing materials prop up horror movies, the staple of home video, and therefore the hardest for promoters to separate from the pack.
Needless to say, I’m no longer surprised when I open the mail and find a picture of a decomposing skull full of maggots or a rushed Photoshop of 1970s film stars covered in pixelated blood. Today, however, one box stands above the rest. I am stunned, confused, horrified, and sort of impressed.
The new box art for Rosemary’s Baby defies simple adjectives like good, bad, ugly, or beautiful. At first blush, it’s a simple silhouette of Rosemary (played by Mia Farrow) pregnant with a child that (if you’re familiar with the movie) may or may not be the antichrist. Except, what’s that on her belly?
The art uses the ambiguous image technique, a visual illusion in which one image can be read in multiple ways. Like the rabbit-duck illusion. Or the not-so-kindly named “My Wife and My Mother-in-Law.”
When you look at countless Blu-rays, you come to appreciate the plight of the box cover artist. They are tasked with the impossible: appeasing hardcore fans, attracting newcomers, and conveying iconic imagery in ways surprising and respectful. Their job is a ball of contradictions, and unlike the poster artists responsible for Hollywood’s most iconic marketing, the box artist works on a fraction of the time and budget.
Which is why I can’t get over this magnificent, monstrous marvel. Please explain what in the hell is going on here!
- Why does it look like Mia Farrow’s due date belly is getting munched by an Adventure Time character?
- How did this silhouette of a naked woman pick a fight with the Android robot?
- Does it even count as an ambiguous image when the artist adds a giant floating eyeball?
Ultimately, I admire this misguided masterpiece. Imagine having to create something comparable to the original poster for Rosemary’s Baby, one of the most iconic movie images of all time. In my imagination, the artist sits at their desk, cracks their knuckles, and chooses to blend Czechoslovakian film art with a Magic Eye.
This work belongs in a museum. Or in an issue of Highlights. Actually, how about both.
The art appears to be a sleeve that protects a plastic case with the original poster. But to remove the sleeve is to choose the Past, and is cowardice. Embrace the chaotic, terrifying Present, for it is hungry to feast on the belly of life and — I’m sorry, where am I? I blacked out for a moment.