What’s a Hell Scare? An old-school Christian tactic that won souls by literally scaring the Hell out of someone. Hey, don’t wanna burn in the lake of fire, right? Better become a Christian, or Jesus gon’ getcha!
As a result, generations of Christians and non-Christians alike grew up terrified of the notions of Hell. Now Jesus talked about Hell in the Bible, so there’s a time and place for such discussion, but when fear of Hell is all you have, that’s some pretty shaky Christianity. Nowadays, fire-and-brimstone preaching is more laughable than convincing.
Yet I am an artists as well as a Christian. I don’t condone Hell Scares, but you know what? Some of them were pretty darn creative!
So, for the appropriate Halloween month, I’ve scoured the internet for five creative and freakish depictions of sinners getting what they deserve. Why? Because the twisted imaginings of the human race fascinate me. And frighten, but mostly fascinate.
And I’ll bet they fascinate you, too. So let’s start with Number Five.
Adaptations of A Christmas Carol
You know the story. Scrooge sees three ghosts that show him his past, present, and future, and how much his selfish life sucks. The forward-looking specter is the freakiest of the bunch, what with his Grim Reaper visage and silent treatment.
In the end, he famously takes Scrooge to a graveyard where Scrooge sees his name on a headstone. This horrifying moment shows Scrooge that he was the man whose death caused so many people either joy or indifference. Is a frightening and sobering vision that turns Scrooge off his dark path.
But that wasn’t scary enough for some movie adaptations. Like the Jim Carrey mo-cap version, a film created not to spread holiday cheer, but to scare the bejezus out of you.
First, Marley comes and shows Scrooge what happens to sinners: they wander the earth desperately trying to do the good to mankind they should have done in life, except nobody can see them.
This was in the book, but books don’t include the sound of a thousand wayward souls wailing over their fate.
But let’s get back to the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Terrorize. He shows Scrooge the tombstone, just like in the movie, but then Scrooge falls into the sinking grave, which ends in a coffin that swings open, surrounded by a hellish red glow.
…what, that wasn’t a vivid enough picture that Scrooge is going to Hell? Okay, if you want to really talk about Hell, ask Disney because BOY were they good at portraying Hell! From Hunchback of Notre Dame‘s blazing finale to the antagonist of Princess and the Frog being dragged below kicking and screaming, Disney doesn’t screw around.
This includes Mickey’s Christmas Carol, a quick yet pleasant cartoon version of the classic with some genuine hart, a few laughs, and an image of Scrooge MacDuck scrambling for his life as he hangs over an open portal to Hell.
No one who watches this movie can ever forget how Pete, the final specter, knocks Scrooge into his own grave, laughing maniacally as Scrooge begs for help and forgiveness, but ultimately plummets into the inferno.
Merry Christmas, kids!
Yes, yes, it’s all a dream in the end, but talk about a left turn! Apparently, it’s not bad enough that Scrooge is unloved and the peripheral cause of Tiny Tim’s death. We have to crank in the infernal forever or those kids in the audience might sleep tonight!
So while A Christmas Carol may contain haunting and ghoulish imagery at times, some adaptations look at the book and say, “Hold my beer.”
And yet as far as Hell scares go, this is tame. My friends, we are about to descend into freakish territory over these next few weeks, so turn out the lights and let’s have some fun.
Next week: Do all dogs REALLY go to Heaven?