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Hollywood Hellhouse - An Introduction

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Jessica got rufied and gang-raped. A Harry Potter-loving nerd beat up his sister then killed himself. And a deranged student fired off a semi-automatic weapon into the cafeteria of a high school.

Yes, it was a busy day in hell, as told by the cast of Hollywood Hellhouse. But it was all in a day’s work.

Created by Maggie Rowe, Hollywood Hellhouse is a spoof of Christian-themed haunted houses that are put on by Pentecostals nationwide. By performing very, very graphic scenes of what can land an otherwise God-fearing individual in the blazing fires of Hades, the goal of the real Hellhouse is to literally terrify the faith into audiences.

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After watching the 2000 documentary “Hellhouse,” which chronicles the efforts of a small group in Texas to put up the play, Rowe immediately saw the "Waiting for Guffman" of evangelical theater waiting to happen.

The idea was due in no small part due to her upbringing. Raised a missionary and fundamentalist Southern Baptist, she experienced a crisis of faith after watching the movie “Dreams” in college. “I lost my mind,” said Rowe. “I ended up going into a Christian mental hospital, and from there it was a gradual process” towards being officially lapsed.

When she saw that documentary years later, she saw in it “all the things that had been screwing with me,” she says.

The next step was to get on the phone with the man who created the original script to the Hellhouse play, Pastor Keenan Roberts, who now works at the New Destiny Christian Center in Colorado. Rowe told a little white lie about her intent, and then bought an outreach kit to put up a Hellhouse, Hollywood style. The outreach kit, available for the low price of $299, includes the script as well as suggestions for casting, publicity and props, like how to make a passable fetus out of a wad of meat for the abortion scene.

Rowe created the dialogue of her show using exact lines from the original script, thus winding up with the living embodiment of the sentiment, “you can’t make this shit up.”