Escape from Hell, Part 1
Escape from Hell memory: I saw part of this movie years ago on vacation. I was wired and staying up way too late and it was on a Christian station at about two in the morning (this is also how I saw my very first Christian movie, Pamela’s Prayer, btw). I started watching right around the scene where the nice dad gets roasted. (Spoiler!)
As with most Christian films, we begin with a Bible verse. This time, it is the wailing and gnashing of teeth bit, Matthew 13: 50-51, natch. Dour singers chant Gregorianly, and there are spooky pictures of people who are presumably hanging out in the bowels of Hell, screaming and shit.
We cut in and out to some doofus who looks like he’s on an operating table in a furnace room (wut?), and being worked over by two doctors. For the sake of clarity, I will reveal their names now: the two doctors are Marissa and Carl, and the sad sack patient is their friend and fellow doctor, Eric Robinson.
I can only presume that Marissa is In Luv with Eric, because she’s crying (unless this is just a sign of her Womanly Sensitivity), while Carl is losing patience (ha!) with the patient and resorts to simply punching him in the chest.
Eric jerks back to life, and mutters something urgent to Marissa. (It’s a good thing that this DVD has subtitles, because the sound quality suuuuucks and I would never have gotten it otherwise: it’s “Loose lips sink ships.”) Carl gives Eric a nice shot of morphine, and rolls him back into the hospital.
Like so many movie hospitals, this one is extremely ill-lit. Hell, out in the halls, I’m surprised anyone can see their hand in front of their face.
Now that Eric is in a real room and under sedation, Carl asks Marissa if she “put him up to this.” She denies this, not without umbrage, and darts into the dim, dank hallway, then up some even darker stairs (safety first!) to the hospital’s roof, where she sees a diner sign with the words “Loose Lips Sink Ships” on it. The sign is flat to the ground, though, such that you can only read it FROM ABOVE.
“He can see it!” breathes Marissa before running back into the hospital.
This is one of those wacky things where you give someone a “test” before a near-death experience, and if they pass, it means Jesus is real, right?
The morphine seems to have little to no effect on Doc Robinson, who wakes up AGAIN, dashes out of his hospital room and evades the hospital’s one security guy.
“YAH!” Eric cries as he exits the hospital, shoving over an empty wheelchair that is not in his way IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER. He drives off in an ambulance, so he can remain as unobtrusive as possible as he makes his escape.
Carl and Marissa completely and utterly SUCK at finding ambulances that have been commandeered by drugged-up doctors (that are being driven around town WITH THEIR LIGHTS ON), and apparently so do the police. About an hour after the escape, Carl realizes he can talk to Eric via the comm in the ambulance, and urges Eric to pull over and wait for help.
Eric doesn’t answer. With the lights of the ambulance flashing (wut WUT WUT), Eric drives up to a church.
I guess he doesn’t feel the need to go right up to the front door. Instead, he parks waaaaay away from the front, choosing to make a mad dash through a graveyard in the middle of the night.
Sure, it makes no sense, but boy, it’s OMINOUS, isn’t it?
In a genre that tends to be embarrassingly white, Escape From Hell at least scores a point for casting a black man as the minister. And refreshingly, his reaction to Eric’s confused ramblings is pretty realistic—he thinks Eric is drunk or high or on the run from the police.
But no, Eric claims that he “brought it back,” “this thing from Hell” and “it keeps chasing me.”
The minister is understandably skeptical, but pushed Eric for “what’s going on.” That’s all it takes for Eric, back from a near-death experience and on the run from demons to tell his story…
And so we go back…back…alllll the way back in time to…
ONE MONTH AGO
Seems Eric is suffering from depression: “running scared” and “empty inside,” and even though he is burning through every antidepressant he can find, no one at the hospital even suspects that he is having any personal problems.
This is hardly surprising. After all, Eric is a nonbeliever, and deep depression is the only natural response to not believing in God, right?
“I was in the business of saving lives, but I didn’t even know how to save my own.”
And somehow, I am sure that Eric’s clinical depression will magically disappear once he has Jesus in his heart.
How insulting. Both to atheists and to people with depression.
Eris is an emergency medicine physician, and is on duty with a little girl with a snake bite is brought in with her parents. This kid is easily the best actor in the movie, and it’s a shame when the focus shifts from her to her father, whose heart attack is brought on by the stress of his daughter’s injury.
When the heart patient, Garrison, is resting quietly, Eric goes in to check on him, and so does the hospital’s Resident Reverend, who goes around praying for people.
Book: Captain, do you mind if I say grace?
Mal: Only if you say it out loud.
Eric asks him what he is praying for, and when the reverend answers “his salvation,” Eric responds:
“Well, he’s a pretty nice guy. You’d be better off praying for his arterial blockage.”
At that moment, I kinda love Eric.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m well aware that the movie will show Eric to be wrong, wrong, WRONG. As we all know, being a devoted husband, an involved father, a selfless guy won’t get you into HEAVEN at the end of the day, will it?
Speaking of said nice guy, Hospital Reverend pops open his Bible right there and starts reading to Eric. I mean, RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF THE UNCONSCIOUS GUY WITH THE MASSIVE HEART PROBLEMS.
“I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were open, and another book was open, which was the Book of Life, and whoever’s name was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
And then another book was open. And then another book. And then another other book.
There were a lot of books.
Oh, and again (because I can’t let this go), JUST KEEP TALKING ABOUT THE LAKE OF FIRE IN FRONT OF THE PATIENT WITH HEART PROBLEMS, DICKWEED
Eric asks a good question, about why a loving god would create a hell. So I give props to the writers for even having Eric ask the question in the first place.
Even if Hospital Reverend dodges it like a pro boxer:
“Why would anyone reject the love and mercy of God?”
BECAUSE WE DON’T BELIEVE IN HIM, JERK
He pulls the lame “If you reject God, you are choosing to go and be tortured forever, so it’s totes not God’s fault.” But before he can spout anymore boilerplate apologetics, Garrison starts muttering, “…ducks be not proud…” and Hospital Reverend skedaddles so Eric can actually get so doctor work done in a hospital.
Yeah, Garrison is saying “ducks be not proud,” and points if you can guess why he’s saying that.
Garrison comes to, and turns out he had a near-death experience and everyone else missed it. He cries and tells Eric that he didn’t want to come back, which is something I hope he doesn’t share with his wife and daughter.
Turns out Garrison had a little adventure: he went through the Sliders tunnel…
…and also looked down at the hospital roof, where he saw the diner sign with “ducks be not proud” on it.
So we know it was for realsies.
Garrison wanted to GO TOWARDS THE LIGHT.
But they brought him back to his loving and devoted family.
Eric brings Doctor Marissa into the picture—apparently, she documents people’s near-dear experiences, like a cut-rate Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. (You can read more about Kubler-Ross and her unscience in this Slate article.)
Eric also brings Carl into the story. Buddy Carl is the resident cardiologist, and expositions for us that there isn’t much hope for Garrison, who needs a new heart but has a rare blood type.
Now that the secondary characters are in the picture, it’s time to explore Eric’s deep personal torment, the main reason that he’s “rejected” the love of Jesus: his own father rejected him.
We learn that Eric’s father abandoned his family and Eric hasn’t seen him in quite some time. But now Dad is back in town and anxious to make amends.
I admit, this is a tough situation for Dad. He’s been out of the picture for years and his son has every reason to hate him. How do you approach someone under those circumstances? Maybe there isn’t even a “best” way to do it. It’s a fraught and emotional thing no matter how you go about it.
But hey, you know what might not be the best way to meet up with the son you abandoned?
Find out where he works, hang out in the parking lot of said workplace for hours like a creepy stalker, then sneak up behind him and scare the crap out of him!
Just a thought.
Doesn’t Dad kinda look like a poor man’s Roy Scheider?
SeaQuest! I used to watch that when I was a kid.
Anyway, Eric is understandably suspicious of Dad’s motives, even when Dad gives him back the money Eric loaned him years ago. But Dad is sober now, and owes it all to JESUS!
This just shows how heartless Eric is. As we all know, nobody ever lies about being a Christian, and it is impossible to change and improve one’s life without becoming one, so Dad deserves immediate and unconditional forgiveness and acceptance from the son he abandoned!
Again, I kinda love Eric for his response to his Dad’s “I came to Christ…all the way” bit:
“I just left a man who really loves his family. … You’re a worthless piece of human garbage—you betrayed your own family for a bottle. … You wanna show me where God is in all that?” *rips up Dad’s check and throws it in his face*
I know we’re supposed to know that Eric is WRONG for not embracing New Christian Dad (now with extra sober!), but all I can say is…Go Eric!
More next time on Marissa’s near-death “studies” and Eric’s Daddy Issues.