Top 10 Depictions of Hell in Movies

Written by Telly Vlachakis

Afterlife in movies is a tricky thing, but these films masterfully captured the essence of what it means to enter the lair of Luicifer, also known as Inferno and/or Hell. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Depictions of Hell in Movies. But what will take the top spot, Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, L'inferno and it's modern interpretation of The Divine Comedy, or the hilarious version of hell from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut? Watch to find out!

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Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Depictions of Hell.

For this list, whether you call it Hell, Inferno, or Hades, we’re collecting the coolest and/or most entertaining visions of the land of the dead on the big screen.

#10: “Event Horizon” (1997)

The last place you’d expect to find Hell is in outer space. Traditionally, flying up towards the sky should lead to a heavenly paradise. However, for the poor rescue crew that answers a distress signal from the Event Horizon starship, things are less than heavenly beyond the clouds. The crew of the Event Horizon, an experimental ship meant to use a gravity drive to open a black hole, has been found massacred, and the reason may be the doorway to Hell they accidentally ripped open. Seen in glimpses of pure horror and torture, Hell is represented more as a power than just a mere location here; a power that’s able to trick these poor souls into eternal damnation.

#9: “Hell and Back” (2015)

Taking a huge leap now to a more comical version of the underworld, the Hell represented in “Hell and Back” is just a helluva fun ride. Literally. When a bunch of friends who are trying to revive a dying carnival discover a book with a crying Devil on it, they decide to use it as their main attraction. Their meddling drags them into Hell through the carnival ride appropriately called “The Gates of Hell.” However, this is a bizarre vision that includes giant robots, t-shirt bazookas, and sex-offender trees – and can only come from the minds of people who’ve worked on “Robot Chicken.” The true reason for Satan’s banishment by God is also revealed, which is a love triangle with an angel.

#8: “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” (1991)

With its original working title being “Bill & Ted Go to Hell” and its theme song titled “Go to Hell” performed by Megadeth, this classic ‘90s comedy seems like an ideal entry. After Bill and Ted are killed by their evil robot doppelgangers that travelled from the future in a phone booth to stop them from becoming famous rock stars, they’re challenged by the Grim Reaper, otherwise known as Death. Though they escape his clutches, their souls are subsequently sent to Hell following Missy’s earthly séance. At first, the hard rockers are thrilled to meet the Prince of Darkness. That is, until they’re thrust into a series of terrifying episodes where they’re forced to relive their most traumatizing childhood memories for all eternity. Bogus!

#7: “Jigoku” [aka “The Sinners of Hell”] (1960)

In one of the most outrageous films of the ‘60s, one of the pioneers of Japanese horror, director Nobuo Nakagawa gave the world probably the most literal version of Hell they’d ever seen in Eastern cinema. Following storylines that feature hit-and-runs, affairs, murder, and rancid fish dinners, the large and varied cast of characters in this flick all have a coupe of things in common: they’re all terrible people and they all end up dead. The final act of the film is dedicated to the detailed torment and torture that befalls all these sinners in an orgy of gore and visually stunning, but shocking, set pieces.

#6: “Little Nicky” (2000)

Adam Sandler may not be the most beloved actor of his generation, but he has admittedly made some funny as hell movies. “Little Nicky” is an original comedy that features an incredibly bizarre performance by Sandler as one of Satan’s three children. The centerpiece of the film is not Sandler’s weird vocal choice, but the way Hell is represented. When Nicky’s brothers decide to get revenge on their father, played with devilish delight by Harvey Keitel, Nicky is sent to Earth to stop them from creating a new Hell on Earth. Don’t miss the special guest cameo from Adolf Hitler in a French nurse’s outfit, and his very unique punishment.

#5: “Constantine” (2005)

Based on the DC and Vertigo comics “Hellblazer” series, it’s no surprise that a story about John Constantine, who’s made a career out of exorcising demons and dealing with supernatural beings, will include a visit to the Eternal Damned. This happens after Constantine is asked by a detective to investigate her twin sister’s apparent suicide. Since souls are damned to Hell if they commit suicide, Constantine decides to travel to the burning underworld, using a cat no less, and confirm if the twin sister is in Hell. He finds a world similar to ours, but one that has been also completely scorched and rusted over, as if in a perpetual atomic blast, and from which he narrowly escapes a horde of mindless demons.

#4: “What Dreams May Come” (1998)

Based on the Richard Matheson novel, this 1998 fantasy film surprised audiences with its brilliant set-design and visual effects, earning it an Oscar, and turning it into a cult classic of visual storytelling. Robin Williams plays a man who has suffered an immense amount of pain in his life, but his troubles are not over when he winds up in Heaven. After he learns that his widowed wife committed suicide, he’s determined to save her from Hell. Although the story takes inspiration from the myth of Orpheus trying to save Eurydice from Hades, the Hell of Vincent Ward’s film is modeled after Dante’s vision of the Inferno, and also features a sea of swarming bodies and fields of buried heads.

#3: “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” (1999)

The only entry in our list that includes a musical number by Satan himself, “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” was expected to push some buttons. Having only been on the air for two years prior, this big-screen adaptation has the town of South Park, and the rest of the US, declare war on Canada for their vulgar and blasphemous comedy, which is infecting American children. The irony is intended and absolutely hilarious. When Kenny’s death lands him in Hell, he crosses paths with the likes of Hitler and Gandhi, and finds himself at Satan’s mercy. Extra points go to his gay lover, Saddam Hussein, who was alive as well as President of Iraq at the time.

#2: “L’Inferno” (1911)

Being one of the most influential texts of Western Civilization, as well as one of the earliest modern depictions of Hell in popular culture, Dante’s epic poem “The Divine Comedy, which features the “Inferno,” was bound to pop up a couple of times on this list. It’s fitting, and somewhat unsurprising, that the first full-length Italian film would be based on one of the earliest texts ever written in the modern Italian vernacular. This silent film shocked audiences, as we follow Dante’s descent into the various sections of the Inferno, each one reserved for different crimes. Showing inventive and shocking ways in which the various torture methods are used on sinners, this epic is worth the watch just for the special effects alone.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Spawn” (1997)
- “Hellbound: Hellraiser II” (1988)
- “The Beyond” [aka “L'aldilà”] (1981)

#1: “Deconstructing Harry” (1997)

When your arrival to Hell is punctuated by a long boring elevator ride, you know you’re in Woody Allen’s vision of the underworld. Many people have wondered if they themselves are in fact worse than the Prince of Darkness himself. Woody Allen’s Harry is a prime contender, as he’s a novelist who’s destroyed many relationships and people with his sex-addiction, narcissism, and published work. When describing one of his many ideas for a semi-autobiographical piece, he places himself in Hell in a pissing contest with the devil. Although filled with demons and tortured souls, this Hell seems all too familiar and comfortable for Harry. It takes our top spot just for its pure ideological depiction of our own deconstruction of our sins.

Do you agree with our list? Which underworld depictions gave you nightmares? For more shocking top 10s published daily, don’t forget to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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