I first saw the next Pirkle epic, The Burning Hell, during a Sunday night church service about 35 years ago. Our Mississippi church advertised it for weeks before screening it.
This thing scared the crap out of me.
To understand why, you have to understand that Hell was, and still is, a very real concept for a lot of people. It's not just a metaphor, and it's not merely a symbol for a life removed from God.
It's the place reserved for everyone who doesn't accept Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for their sins.
After a few years, you start to wonder what kind of Being would create things with an inclination towards disobedience so they could be tortured in fire forever. Click here for a rant on that topic. (Sorry for the digression, but don't disagree with me in the comment field unless you've read that link.)
Since a Pirkle film of this length is almost like too much candy, I'll be presenting this in eight parts over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, the first section is kinda like making that first defective pancake. It includes the preliminary throat-clearing and scene setting to introduce all the characters (Moses, Dathan, Mississippi preachers, etc.). If you find my commentary helpful, it's below the YouTube clip.
:05 - You might be the most devout Baptist that ever dunked a drunkard, but if you can see that "powered by" text underneath the satellite and not laugh, then you're taking this waaaay too seriously.
:45 - Harry Truman appears.
1:40 - Estus Pirkle appears for the first time, but his voice doesn't appear for another 10 seconds. The video and sound are out of sequence on this clip. Not that it matters.
3:15 - Three of Israel's most powerful leaders, dark semitic men of the desert, are portrayed by what look like Alabama deacons.
3:40 - If that isn't an off-the-shelf Santa Claus wig....
4:30 - You've heard that same accent in a lot of other movies, usually explaining to Yankee meddlers why we Southerners don't take well to no race-mixin'.
4:40 - I think the actors were told to look terrified, but most of the facial expressions are asking the eternal question "Who Farted?"
And the clip ends just when we were getting to the good part.
If anyone thinks I'm beating a dead horse here, this is from the IMDB comments on "The Burning Hell". Someone calling herself Charlottes Web 1952 writes:
I have watched this movie several times and I am very impressed with the way it was made. It really gives a person an idea of what hell will be like, although I know hell will be much worse than anyone can imagine. Mr. Pirkle has captured a small portion of what hell will be like. I know when I watch it that I want to do the will of God and I know in my heart that Jesus did die on that tree so that I wouldn't have to go to hell. This movie was made in the seventies I believe, and as far as the actors and actresses were concerned, I believe they did a wonderful job with their parts. I noticed someone was talking about the fake beards but most movies that someone has to have a beard is almost always fake. I can say I really enjoyed watching the movie and I want to be a better person by watching it. God bless.
The mind recoils.