The Burning Hell/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< The Burning Hell

In his follow up to If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, Ron Ormond teamed up once again with the staunch Southern Baptist preacher, Estus Pirkle. This time, to discuss the everlasting fires of Hell!

As with Footmen, The Burning Hell centers around Pirkle's stern message to an attentive congregation of backwoods good 'ol boys and tone deaf, blue-haired matrons of the Country Jesus. The narrative is set up by a visit to Pirkle's home by two generic biker-types who want to discuss prophecy according to "Dr. Long" who denies that "a burning hell" actually exists. Pirkle informs both men that the Greek New Testament proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hell does exist and both of them will spend an eternity in a lake of fire if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

"Ken" becomes confrontational and informs Pirkle that he's "still got some livin' to do." "Tim" (played by Tim Ormond) seems willing to listen, but follows Ken on a ride. After a wild stretch of cycling down back roads, Tim finds Ken's mangled body over the top of a hill. In Ormond fashion, an excessive amount of blood can be seen with Ken's motorcycle helmet in the center - and it is strapped on to his decapitated head!

Somewhat perplexed, Tim returns to the church to hear Pirkle's sermon on Hell. At this point the movie becomes a medley of biblical enactments on several accounts of Hell. Oddly enough, most of the characters depicted, from Cain to Abraham, Lazarus, and Herrod, are extremely white and speak with deep southern drawls.


Another notable Ormond element occurs when Pirkle discusses the mention of eternal "worms" tormenting souls condemned to Hell. Pirkle works through the etymology of the word from the King James Bible through to its ancient Greek counterpart. As it turns out, the Bible specifically refers to "maggots" and the viewer is given a variety close ups with actors twitching in visible discomfort while maggots crawl over their face, into their eyes and ears, and hair. Another scene involves Herrod who is struck down by God due to hubris. Maggots summarily eat his intestines and consume his flesh to the bone. Although Ormond's time lapse representation leaves much to be desired, the graphic impression does well to enforce Pirkle's message: Come to Jesus or be eaten by maggots!

Overall, this movie isn't hard to watch. It's run time of less than an hour makes it less laborious than it might sound. There aren't near as many surprises in The Burning Hell as with Footmen, but Ormond's presence is apparent throughout. There are a few laughable scenes such as the depictions of Hell where tortured souls cry incessantly in a dark world strewn with randomly placed "pits of fire." Satan appears to Tim in a dream sequence toward the end of the film. For the production quality of the film, you'd expect the generic "red-faced" devil to appear. However, Ormond opted for a more psychedelic approach. Satan's face is painted in Harlequin-esque style with geometric patterns featuring a variety of bright colors. Satan's face appears more like a stained-glass window.

For me, I liked this film. Primarily, because I'm from the South and this is the "Jesus" I grew up with. Not that I agree with the message, but I can certainly relate to the method in which it's presented. An interesting account as to the effect of this film: a 1996 article in Psychotronic Video #26 claims that The Burning Hell was played the previous year (1995) at the Columbus, Ohio, Free Christian Drive-in. The film still has a lively circulation on the Christian video circuit as well.

Reviewed by Texploited

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