Most of us wonder what happens when we die, so it's no surprise movies have been preoccupied with what comes next since the earliest days of motion pictures. As such, there have been plenty of movies about Hell over the years, ranging from silent films about devils with pitchforks jabbing sinners in boiling lakes to more recent depictions that are often highly subjective, gory, or both.
With so many different versions of on-screen Hell, it can be hard to know which cinematic Hell is creepiest. Thankfully, creators have imagined all sorts of different Hells - ranging from animated features and buddy comedies to horror movies about demons - so there's bound to be at least one depiction that fills you with existential dread.
Which films feature the worst versions of Hell? That all depends on what you're most afraid of.
As Above, So BelowPhoto: Universal Pictures
Filmed in the Paris catacombs, this 2014 found footage thriller is the first production to ever secure permission to film within the 180-mile tunnel system that runs beneath the streets of Paris and is home to the final remains of more than six million people - a place where ghosts definitely outnumber the living.
In the film, a team of urban archaeologists venture into the catacombs in search of the Philosopher's Stone only to find themselves in a metaphorical underworld where their own past regrets - as well as less symbolic horrors - plague them. Perhaps they should have heeded the warning that greets all visitors to the catacombs, which roughly translates to, "Stop! Here lies the empire of death."15847Is this creepy?
- Photo: Universal Pictures
Sure the film just calls him Darkness and he lives in a swamp castle rather than a place called Hell, but Tim Curry's character in Legend sure looks an awful lot like the devil, and his palace certainly bears a strong resemblance to something one might expect to find in Dante's conception of The Inferno.
It makes sense, given how the screenplay was originally penned by none other than William Hjortsberg, whose book Falling Angel was adapted to film as the southern gothic Angel Heart just a couple years later in 1987. Hjortsberg's original draft of the screenplay had some distinct differences from what went in front of the cameras, but at least some of that hellish vision is retained in the look, demeanor, and decorating style of Curry's Darkness.14743Is this creepy?
- Photo: Netflix
Inspired by Basque folklore, Errementari is, according to writer/director Paul Urkijo Alijo, a "Gothic horror demonic tale, with adventure and black humor... I intend to plunge the spectator into Basque folk fantastic imagery that I love so much."
The 2017 Spanish film follows an orphaned girl who encounters a blacksmith who's keeping a demon imprisoned. Reminiscent of the films of Guillermo del Toro, Errementari is filled with practical effects and inspired by medieval drawings, culminating in a dramatic sequence of demons herding sinners into the (very literal) mouth of Hell.12330Is this creepy?
BaskinPhoto: IFC Midnight
This 2015 Turkish film follows five police officers who explore an abandoned building with a sinister reputation only to find themselves pulled down into Hell. There are no lakes of fire and no red devils with pitchforks in this Hell. Instead, there are bloody people committing bloody acts, splashed with surrealist lighting reminiscent of films from Dario Argento or Mario Bava. While it may be difficult for viewers to suss out exactly what happens in the film, the hellish imagery on display is sure to stick in the minds of genre fans, along with the film's idea about the nature of Hell.9815Is this creepy?