“Hell House,” the multimedia, mass-marketed, evangelical scare-fest that uses graphic, gory stagecraft to terrify teenagers into declaring themselves Christians, has spawned a spoof.
“Hollywood Hell House,” scheduled to run Saturday through Oct. 31 at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood, is crafted from the Rev. Keenan Roberts’ actual scripts, which promise grisly life and afterlife consequences for homosexuality, abortion, drug use and other purported transgressions.
“Bill Maher is our Satan, Andy Richter is our Jesus, Sarah Silverman is our Abortion Girl, and Ben Zook is our Rave Rapist,” producer Maggie Rowe says of the opening-night cast.
Although the Rev. Jerry Falwell was doing fear-inducing events in the 1970s as an alternative to Halloween haunted house attractions, Roberts began putting on his controversial versions in the 1990s, with teenagers playing victims, sinners and demons.
Roberts now sells kits to churches and religious organizations around the world for $200. Rowe bought one by saying it was for her “youth group.”
She didn’t mention that Youth Group is the name of her theater company or that the show would be presented by the Center for Inquiry -- West, an offshoot of an international organization supported by scientists and others that promotes critical thinking.
“We went word by word, beat by beat from the kit -- the costuming, the layout, the set design, the sound effects, the people screaming in hell, the heaven music, tons of fake blood,” Rowe says. “Our faith is that putting this up as itself, it will hoist itself on its own petard, that it’s comical just as it is.”
About 160 actors and comedians are to rotate among 60 roles per show. Other cast members will include Richard Belzer, Dave Thomas, Traci Lords, Julia Sweeney and Craig Bierko.