John Astin is an aging hippie about to discover what Hell has in store for him in the Night Gallery segment “Hell’s Bells,” reviewed here.
Teleplay by Theodore J. Flicker • Story by Harry Turner
Directed by Theodore J. Flicker
John Astin as Randy Miller
Theodore J. Flicker as the Devil/First Demon
Jody Gilbert as the Fat Lady
Ceil Cabot as Mrs. Tourist
John J. Fox as Mr. Tourist
Hank Worden as the Bore
Jack Laird as the Second Demon
Gene R. Kearney as the Third Demon
Randy Miller (John Astin, quite funny), firmly enmeshed in the counterculture of the day (1971), in both attire and argot, if a bit old for it (Astin was 41 at the time this was shot), drives his car off a dark highway and dies in a fiery crash. He sees rotating heads of three demons who make silly faces and spout garbled words, then he slides through a sort of laundry chute and is deposited into Hell…’s waiting room. Yes, Hell has a waiting room.
There’s a poster on the wall listing all the things one can’t do there: no smoking, standing, littering, talking, etc. “A bummer” of a place as Randy says. He takes out a fresh stick of gum to chew and tosses the wrapper on the floor and immediately a plump woman appears to chastise him for his transgression.
“Lady,” he begins. “Fat lady,” she corrects him. She vanishes as abruptly as she appeared and Randy begins to contemplate what he imagines it will be like once he leaves the waiting room and enters Hell. He visualizes a series of classical drawings depicting various degrees of physical human suffering.
Finally, the door to his destination opens and he steps inside…another dull-looking room. But this one has a huge stack of albums that piques his interest. However, the first one that plays is not a period selection of classic rock, but rather something a lot more “square” to his tastes and he can’t get it to stop playing.
He notices an older man in the room and is grateful for the chance at conversation. But this man, too, is not the type of person Randy finds interesting, dully discussing such topics as crop rotation.
Next appear a husband and wife, dressed in Hawaiian shirts, promising to begin showing him their 8,500-strong collection of vacation slides from their recent trip to Tijuana. Downer, man!
Growing more and more impatient, Randy demands that the Devil show himself and explain what’s going on. He does, in the form of the segment’s writer and director, Theodore J. Flicker. The Devil is dressed in red and has horns, but he’s not nearly as frightful or imposing as Randy expects. In fact, he’s kind of a short, pudgy middle-aged guy in a not-too-convincing costume.
Randy wants to know where the fire and brimstone Hell he imagined is. The Devil explains that “Hell is never what you expect it to be. But for you, this is it. It’s a curious thing, but they have the exact same room up there (gesturing toward heaven). You see, while this room is absolute Hell for you, up there it is someone else’s idea of heaven.” And with that he disappears, leaving aging hippie Randy Miller to collapse and writhe around the ground with the knowledge that this is how he will spend eternity—with lame music, a boring old farmer chattering about completely uninteresting things and a couple showing an endless parade of vacation slides. With narration, of course.