TV Review: GATES OF HELL

by: NoCalMike

This is the first of many guest columns. This one is by our friend Mike of Evil Episodes.com. Are you ready to step into Hell? Mike has your ticket!

 

The other night I was cleaning out my DVR of shows & programs that have just been sitting on there. I came across a program I had not seen since it originally aired in the spring of 2010. I would hardly call myself a history buff, although I could probably do myself some good in learning more of it, especially in these times of so much economica turmoil. With that said History channel does put together great programs on all sorts of topics and every once in awhile one catches my eye and I have to watch it. In this case it was one entitled; GATES OF HELL.

No, not the Fulci Zombie flick (that is a movie for another time) instead, this was actually a documentary about six places on earth that were at one time believed to be actual physical entrances to the location known as hell.  The show takes the viewers on a trip to Nicaragua, Belize, Greece, Iceland, Ireland and Ethiopia to visit the six supposed Gateways to Hell.
Anything involving “Hell” either literally or metaphorically can run the risk of turning a certain percentage of people off, fearing a lesson on theology and the like. Not this show. The topic itself is treated more in a historical reference.

The show merely presents that there was a time that this is just what some people believed at the time. Regardless of your own personal beliefs, the show is presented in a way that makes it more about the neat and interesting landmarks themselves than the theological undertones. These are stories of the past civilizations, places they feared, places they felt were gateways to the most evil brand of the supernatural as possible.
In usual History channel fashion the show is filled with archaeologists, scholars, explorers historians, theologists,professors & more, who are very well schooled in the beliefs of different civilizations ranging from medivel times to several years BC.  Their commentary helps guide the viewer along and really gives a wonderful context to everything. We get some very detailed stories of how some groups brought people to these gateways of hells to offer human sacrifices, others wanted to travel through the caverns, cooridors or volcano entrances themselves to try and get a glimpse of Hell themsevles.

The high definition of the program is pretty stunning.  All the landscapes and different settings look absolutely beautiful. This is a program that could watch on mute if all you wanted to see was pretty looking dangerous places to try and discover.
Perhaps the most entertaining and creepy aspect of the documentary in my opinion is all the historical and slightly animated depictions of what hell looks like. We get the full-on treatment here; Demons whipping damned souls, men covered in venomous snakes, folks burning in the eternal lake of fire, Satan himself is of course the guest of honor in most of these artistic depictions.

In fact every stereotype you have probably seen or heard before is included in these art pieces! The pain & despair depicted in the art come to life is pretty convincing.  Whether you believe in Hell or not, these art pieces certainly let you know it’s a place you sure as hell don’t want to go to, let alone visit.

As a long-time horror fan most of what I watch is based a lot in fiction (a point some would argue, but not right now) however sometimes non-fiction such as shows like this or HBO’s Autopsy series come along and shake your nerves in a way that the creepiest piece of fiction can’t do nine times out of ten.  Gates of Hell aired about a year ago originally, so you might need to find this on DVD or netflix. I highly recommend checking this out for an entertaining watch on a historicl and “non-fictional” spin on a subject that is very familiar to the horror community!

Thanks Mike! and be sure to check out Evil Episodes at http://evilepisodes.com

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