Director: George Ratliff
TRT: 85 min
Hell Houses are a distinctly American phenomenon which began in 1990 just outside of Dallas, at the Trinity Assembly of God Church. The original Hell House was conceived as a modern-day fire-and-brimstone sermon. Today, this religious ceremony of sorts is replete with actors, extensive lighting equipment and full audio-visual tech crews.
Inside the Hell House, tour guides dressed as demons take visitors from room to room to view depictions of school massacres, date rape, AIDS-related deaths, fatal drunk driving crashes, and botched abortions. Hell Houses have now spread to hundreds of churches worldwide. With full access to the behind-the-scenes action, HELL HOUSE follows the process from the first script meeting until the last of the 10,000 visitors passes through the Hell House doors. The movie gives a verite window into the whole process of creating this over-the-top sermon, while showing an intimate portrait of the people who fervently believe its message. The film also features a score by Bubba and Matthew Kadane, formerly of the band Bedhead.
The Sundance Channel, 2003
Selina Lewis Davidson