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  Burning Hell, The Save Me, JeebusBuy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Ron Ormond
Stars: Estus W. Pirkle, Tim Ormond, Chuck Howard, Jack Hyles, Bob Gray, Terence Hendricks, Don Green, Carl Lackey, Vaughn Denton, Mike Fine, Earl Farley, Billy Kent, Buddy Mullinax, Maurice Banks, Tim Green
Genre: Horror, Documentary
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: We are introduced to the horrors of eternal damnation by our guide, Mississippi minister Estus W. Pirkle who is an authority on the subject. Here he is on Mount Sinai to tell the tale of those who would go against the teachings of Moses while the Israelites were out in the desert. What happened to those naysayers? They were cast into the fires of Hell for all time, and that is what will happen to you if you do not accept the Lord God into your life.

As long as it's the Christian God, that is, no other faiths count in His eyes, as is illustrated by the forthright opinions of Pirkle here in a film that was the follow up to his notorious anti-Communist work, If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? This, like that previous film, was also directed by Ron Ormond, an exploitation producer who had been filling the drive-ins with cheap thrills for over twenty years by the time he came up with this. Perhaps he got religion and was filled with a need to repent, for his Pirkle productions are a very different story.

Or ar they? Ormond is still using exploitation conventions to relate his message, complete with horror movie clichés when it comes down to showing what Pirkle thinks will happen when over half of the six thousand people who die every hour (according to him) end up in the realms of Hell. He has the Bible to back him up, and any other interpretation, that is any milder one, is simply dangerous misinformation and certain to send anyone who does not believe in gruesome punishment - forever - for sinners to Hell along with them.

Seems a bit harsh, especially if you've been told somewhere down the line that God is Love, but Pirkle's tactics are heavy handed and bullying. It doesn't matter if you're a nice chap or chapess, you're off to Hades if you don't accept the power of Jesus Christ into your life. This would appear to mean standing amid a few bonfires with a dirty face and contemplating the error of your ways, or at least that's what happens to the damned we see here. Oh, and there are some maggots to be endured as well.

There's more to it than that, with recreations of Bible stories starring some painfully seventies-looking Americans, all with the same Deep South accent as Pirkle has, pretending to be Moses (you may be thinking that Kenny Rogers has really let himself go at this point) or selected disciples. There's also a modern day parable of Tim (Tim Ormond, son of the director), who loses his friend in a motorcycle accident (we see the aftermath in ludicrously gory detail) and, worried he may be going to Hell like him, rushes straight to the local church. Leaving the decapitated body of his friend at the roadside. Some pal he was. However sincere the message, the needlessly aggressive methods employed will be less likely to convert than to leave the unbeliever thinking fundamentalist Christians are hate-fuelled maniacs. This is what they had to watch before The Passion of the Christ.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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