“Hell houses” have been a fixture during the American Halloween season since the early 1990s. These productions, staged by mainly evangelical Christian churches, are a twist on the traditional haunted house. Instead of scary killers wearing hockey masks or razor fingers, they instead attempt to scare patrons with terrifying scenes of depravity which will result in a trip to hell instead of the loving arms of Jesus Christ. But recent years have seen hell house attendances dwindling as young people are no longer bothered by the horrific images that these church productions exhibit.
“Yeah, I just don’t get it. Kids are really not being scared any more. And we’ve really gone all out to show them the kinds of things that will burn them in hell,” said Bill Safire, associate pastor at the Trinity Assembly of God just outside of Dallas, Texas. “They used to come running into the church, crying the next morning after seeing some of this stuff. I think Hollywood is desensitizing kids to these evil things. Teachers play a big role as well, with their talking about evolution and stuff.”