The word hell has existed since Old English times as the name for an abode of the dead. It is related to the Old English verb helan, meaning "to hide" or "to conceal," which is of Germanic origin. Other English relatives of helan include helmet, hull, hole, hollow, and hall.
Over the centuries, hell has been used in various emphatic or intensive expressions, many of which are quite common. One less frequently used expression is hell (a-)popping, which caught on as a catchphrase in American slang to describe situations unfolding in a chaotic manner.
There'll be hell a-popping whenever they do come together.
― Francis, Saddle and Moccasin, 1887
Hell musta popped here.
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939
The phrase's heyday was in the 1930s and 1940s, which coincides with the 1938 debut of the musical Hellzapoppin' and the 1941 release of the film of the same title. The phrase is also used in closed form like the title.
The Detroits floundered hilariously into the world championship in seven hellzapoppin' games.
― The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, 1942
Hellzapoppin' might seem a tad dated, but it still has fun from time to time.
Dr. Dre and his cronies are going wild with the news that it would be a deal worth billions. Iovine wasn't there. In fact, he was outraged and embarrassed that the acquisition ... had been made public. That's part of the allure of the series—Iovine, a caustic but cautious, private man, contrasted with the hellzapoppin' world of Los Angeles hip-hop and rap.
— John Doyle, The Globe and Mail (Canada), 8 July 2017