I have a few friends who are obsessed with this film & have been going on and on about it for a while. I missed it in theaters, but when I saw it on the shelf at the video store, I had to rent it.
HELL HOUSE is a documentary about a "haunted house" near Dallas, Texas that scares kids into becoming Evangelical Christians by showing them that they will go to hell if they don’t "accept Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior." Every October, for the past 13 years or so, as crowds shuffle through the highly orchestrated Hell House, they are shown scenes of sin and debauchery, then they are shown the sinners in hell & those that were Christians in heaven. There’s a gay guy dying of AIDS that ends up in hell (his main sin was believing that he was born gay (ie God did it) when according to the Evangelicals, he turned gay after he was molested by his dad). And a girl who goes to a rave, is slipped a date rape drug, gang raped & then admits that she was also molested by her dad and commits suicide, then goes to hell. There’s also a girl who gets an abortion & dies from the complications, but because she accepts Jesus right before she dies, she goes to heaven, but she still dies. After viewing all these scenes, the guests are ushered into a broom closet & confronted by a fire and brimstone talk by a minister then given to the count of 5 to choose between going in a room to pray and fill out cards affirming their acceptance of Jesus or awkwardly staying in a broom closet with the scary preacher man, and accepting the fact that they will burn in hell. Surprisingly, most of the people stay in the broom closet & are OK with going to hell. These are my kind of people.
The documentary also takes a behind the scenes look at people and the production of the house & the brain-storming sessions that lead to the crazy skits. The most entertaining thing about this documentary is that the Evangelicals are completely ignorant of the situations they are creating. My favorite part is when two of the pastors start arguing about what color paint should be used for the pentagrams in the occult scene. "Last year we had a Warlock come in and he said that nothing could be white, no white candles, and no white pentagrams!" one of the pastors says. The other pastor is shamed b/c he is caught with white paint. The film cuts to the occult set, painted in red is the Star of David!!! Not a pentagram at all!!! Oy!
There are lots of interesting characters in HELL HOUSE & it is definitely worth checking out. Recommended.