Hell in Films
With today’s release of Silent Hill: Revelation on B lu ray and DVD we spoke to Gavin Baddeley a Reverend in the Church of Satan about Hell in films.
What do you feel are the good and bad representations of Hell in movies?
I suppose when you talk about hell it sort of turns everything on it’s head because surely the good ones are the ones you shouldn’t enjoy! The first ever italian feature film from 1911 based on Dante’s Infernos where they have taken the original carvings of ‘Gustave Dore’ and basically made a movie of that. I think Silent Hill is great, especially for some of the visuals, they really stick with you and they really stand out.
For kitsch appeal there are a couple of Christian movies one called Burning Hell – it’s an amazing piece of crap made by a B movie hack and an evangelical preacher and they used to show it in schools to try and terrify children. That’s well worth a watch and I’m Feeling Wicked which is kind of like the Citizen Kane of smut.
Comic Books and video games are often translated to film, which do you feel have been done well?
I think Spawn is quite good because it translates what it is and it’s an unabashedly adolescent; it’s got devils, evil clowns and CIA assassins and much of the action takes place in hell.
I think Silent Hill works well because Christophe Gan put it together and he put it together because he absolutely loved the game, some of the video game adaptations look like the actors and writers feel like they have the short straw but not with this one.
Constantine was an adaptation of a rather good comic called Hell Blazer but they gave the role of one of the most popular comic books to Keanu Reeves but it had predictable results.
Are there any directors working today that you feel could do a really good job of representing Hell on screen?
Don Coscarelli doesn’t seem to be able to put a foot wrong at the moment. Maybe if he was return to phantasm and reboot the franchise His most recent one John Dies at the End, that’s sort of got Hell characteristics in. He did Bubba Ho- Tep. I suspect he could give us a hell that could frighten and entertain us.
In terms of Occult figures do you think the story of Alastair Crowley’s life could be put into film?
Lots of people have tried and failed but I think really you’d need a TV mini series as this is a guy whose life is absolutely crammed with incidents, we remember him as this kind of tabloid villain occultist when really he was a scholar of buddhism, a mountaineer and a much better poet than he’s given credit for. We have all these different aspects but must of what we’ve seen of him on screen is the cackling black magician. I thought Simon Callow’s performance in a re-incarnation of Crowley in Chemical Weddings was fun, he captured the mischief of Crowley I think.
Directors like Tim Burton focus on the darker side of films and he takes a sometime comedic approach, do you think he’s doing a good job?
I’m part of a small club who liked Dark Shadows, there isn’t a Judeo Christian hell in Burton’s films and he parody’s hell to certain extent. He’s a dark soul who find comfort and the affection in the macabre, especially in Edward Scissorhands he suggests that the perfect white picket fence society is hell.
Which genre of film do you think is best suited to portray Hell in films?
It depends on what you want really, the role of hell and the depictions of it go back 100′s of years. The idea is to frighten people and to that extend you really want a horror movie.
If though, like me, you find the concept hell reflective of a deeply pathological belief system then parody’s are better.
I love horror movies but part of your problem is that whenever you depict hell you drain it of some of it’s horror because part of the idea of hell is of unimaginable terror and completely inconceivable in it’s nastiness so as soon as you imagine it you drain it of some of it’s horror.