The biblical representation of hell is a place where sinners go and burn for eternity. It’s fire and brimstone, lava and a big red guy with horns and a trident that he pokes you with every little while. If you break certain rules and are a bad dude, you go there, unless of course you repent. In horror movies hell has been represented many different ways, usually it includes chocolate syrup dripping down the walls.
Many representations of hell in fiction are simply a place where evil spirits hang out. It seems that someone always finds a gateway somewhere in the world and it becomes more about what they let out then what is in there. I think some of the depictions that are best are the “Hell of Earth” versions where hell is spilling out. For example George Romero always used hell as a symbolic reason for why the dead are walking “When there’s no more room left in Hell -- the dead will walk the earth.”
Other movies like “Angel Heart” use metaphors like the elevator going down. Personally I think hell is something that exists in the mind. Someone’s personal hell is much more interesting to me than a mythical world where you’re sent if you break the rules.
In literature hell has been depicted many different ways. From “Dante’s Inferno” ala Divine Comedy and “Faust” which are your more biblical versions to Stephen King where hell exists in a place called Derry, Maine. You also have hell portrayed as war in “Incarnations of Immortality.”
So hell is a pretty broad term that leaves a lot of personal interpretation. Which makes it a great and underutilized trope for fiction.
In other news… The Megapods are heading up to Boston for the Pax East comic convention on Friday. If you happen to be there come say hi. Also if you sign my mailing list here on the site you get a free ebook copy of my short story “The Man with the White Face.”
Horror Question of the Day: Do you believe in hell? What would your fictional version of hell look like?