Review: The Void

 

The Void begins with Carter, a local deputy, encountering a young man stumbling out of the woods and onto the road. At first he assumes the man has simply had too much to drink,  until he discovers the man’s covered in blood.  Carter races to the closest hospital  in an attempt to get him help. It turns out the hospital is short staffed, due to an impending closure due to a recent fire. An examination of the man reveals that the blood on him is not his own.

Things only get weirder from that point onward. The hospital is soon surrounded by a group of strangers all wearing hooded robes that have a triangular design. The strangers quickly make it clear that they’re not friendly when they prove to be knife weilding maniacs. But the strangest thing  is that they aren’t trying to get into the hospital, rather they seem to be determined to keep everyone inside it.

From that point on things just get stranger and weirder, in an entertaining way. Throw in some hellish beast that look like a Clive Barker and HP Lovecraft love-child, gun-toting nutjobs, and a desperate attempt to save Carter’s wife (She’s a nurse at the hospital) from the cult’s bat shit crazy leader, and you gotta lot of action and drama going on.

The Void excels is the practical special effects. The majority of the creatures and gore are done in an old school fasion that’s straight out of the ’80s. If you enjoyed movies like The Thing, Aliens, Fright Night, etc. you’ll love the visceral nature of it.

Enivornment and atmosphere are also strong elements of The Void. Being stuck in a remote location with no way out and a lethal threat inside and not knowing who you can trust or believe is a great way to build a tense atmosphere. The Void manages to use these all in an entertaining way, never letting the characters or audience feel safe or at ease.

The supernatural/occult theme of The Void is something that I love to watch or read when it is well done, and this movie doesn’t disappoint in that category. Too many movies rely on cheap scare tatics and cliched psycho killers brutalizing horny teen agers. Instead The Void delves into the disturbing idea of cheating death, and opening forbiden portals. As a fan of Lovecraft and Clive Barker, I appreciated and genuinely enjoyed the ideas that The Void took on.

For all the good things that The Void had going for it, I did feel it was weak when it came to its characters. I never developed any opinion about any of them, and did not really care about their fates. I think part of the reason this is is because there’s very little to no back story for most of them. The only exception is the reltionship between Carter and Alice, who are apparently either still married or exes – it’s never made clear. The film makers attempt to make them sympathetic to their audience but the whole thing feels contrived and fored. The rest of the characters are mere plot furniture, and other than being annoying or having some cool action scenes – they don’t stand out as strong well developed characters. I realize that in movies like this there are characters that are mere cannon fodder, but unlike other movies that do this, I didn’t find myself cheering for their on screen deaths or survival.

I think that there could’ve been a bit more backstory/development with Alice and Carter earlier in the movie to help establish their relationship and draw the viewers to the characters without bogging down the plot. It would’ve made Carter’s search for Alice later in the movie far more impactful as well as the conclusion of it.

The Void is the kind of movie that doesn’t answer all the questions that it raises which can make for a bit of confusion early on. But it does manage to leave a trail of proverbial bread crumbs along the way that help clear things up for the most part, but it still leaves somethings to your own imagination. I think The Void is the kind of movie that makes more sense after watching it a second time. If you’re the kind of person that needs everything spelled out for you and to  have the movie hold your hand and explain every detail then this isn’t the movie for you. On the other hand if you like having your imagination engaged and contemplating what you just watched, then by all means give The Void a shot.

I enjoyed watching The Void, a lot. It’s been a long time that a  new movie has captured my attention and imagination like this one. In fact I’ve kept it on my Netflix list to watch it again, something I hardly ever do. I won’t say that it’s the greatest horror movie I’ve seen but it’s a fun movie, and I can overlook the flaws it has.

If you enjoyed the supernatural-esque movies of John Carpenter, and Clive Barker from the ’80’s then I think you’ll enjoy this one. Fans of weird fiction, and in particular HP Lovecraft will enjoy it as well. A lot has been made of The Void being a homage to the 80’s horror movies, in particular John Carpenter’s work – Prince of Darkness, but I think it stands on its own as a solid movie.

Grade: B+

WIP: WitchBane

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I started working on this one Saturday morning. It’s based on an old sketch I did in my sketch book earlier in the year as well as some more recent ones. This is the pencil work for the final piece that I’ll probably start inking later on this weekend. It’s more of a fantasy, albeit dark fantasy, idea. I figured it’d be a good idea to expand the genre of my work.  The head that WitchBane is holding is a Medusa. When I was kid I loved the movie ‘The Clash of the Titans’. I think I had the original on VHS back in the day, and it left a big impact on me.  I think they remade it not too long ago, but I don’t think I’ve bothered to watch it, there’s something more pleasing/entertaining about the original with the stop animation and such.

Lately, I’ve been submiting my work to various fantasy/horror/scifi/weird fiction publications in an attemp to get some paying illustration work. Hopefully, something good will come out of it. I figured doing some fantasy orientated drawings will be good for my portfolio and be a fun change of pace. You can view my portfolio simply be clicking on the ‘Home’ page up on top.

Thanks for stopping by and checking it out.

Kvlt Life by Ovter God

Kvlt Life (Cult Life) by Outer God (Outer God) is a terrific mashup of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos and the synth pop/dark wave of the 1980’s.

That being said, Ovter God’s debut ep does not simply rely upon gimmicks nor are they merely trying to cash in on the retro craze. Each track is well crafted with a solid hook of up tempo industrial/synth rock featuring a duo of vocalists that have their own distinct style. The use of spoken word intros to the first track, ‘Unamable’ and the final song ‘A Moment’ is well done to achieve the cosmic horror of Lovecraft’s mythos. I liked the fact that they chose not to use quotations in every track, which would have become tiresome.  ‘Unamable’ and ‘Unruhe’ tend to be the most heavily influenced Lovecraft songs, while the remainder delve into more ethereal topics.

Musically, Kvlt Life masterfully incorporates quirky chords and creepy strains with retro-ish drum machines and guitars to weave a unique and memorable sound.  There is no denying the influence of the 1980’s New Wave and perhaps even Dark Wave, but Ovter God’s musical style stands on its own. Despite the ‘dark’ lyrics and sound, there’s a definte pop hook to each one that quickly grabs my attention and holds it.

Ovter God has put out a strong debut, each track is catchy and quirky, and I look forward to hearing more of their music in the future. I would recommend them to you if you enjoy synth/retro music with hints of industrial rock that’s influenced by Lovecraft and the horror subgenre.

 

Maggot Head (Enigma of the Worm II)

 

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This was done with pen&ink, ink&brush, and black gouache.

Man’s Best Fiend

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This is a pen and ink drawing I worked on a couple days, maybe 8 hours total, when I had some free time in the early morning. It’s based on a rough sketch I did during my lunch break at my day job.

The idea came about from the numerous walks my family and I go on through the neighborhood. One area has a picket fences along the entire property line of a subdivision of houses. One section of the fences has busted for quite some time, like the drawing. There are also numerous dogs that bark and growl from behind other fences. So, it got me to thinking, ‘What if?’ and this drawing is the end results.

It’s possible this idea/drawing will spawn other projects, but that remains to be determined. Regardless, I enjoyed doing this drawing, it was a lot of fun and I’m happy with the end results. I tried not to get too hyper detailed with everything in order to draw attention to the zombie but not be too Spartan with the rest of the drawing. I’m happy with the end results.

I drew it mainly with the School nib which is a fine point and has a nice stiffness to it which works well for me since I tend to be heavy handed. But it has enough flexiabilty to allow variety to the line thickness depending on the pressure applied. It’s nice to use one pen for an entire drawing rather than having to swap them out for different ones.

 

Nothing good happens after midnight

 

 

Last night I watched the old 1980’s horror/comedy classic, Gremlins, via Netflix. I grew up in the ’80s and I can still remember how obssessed I quickly became with the movie after seeing the trailer on TV and even having a Gizmo and Stripe action figure prior to even seeing the movies. I bugged the crap out of my parents to go see it, but unfortunately the near bye town I lived near only had two movie theaters and a total of three screens between them. So, for me the wait for it to arrive at one of them was sheer torture.

Once I finally saw the movie it became an instant classic in my mind, along with Ghost Busters and Poltergeist. So, when I saw it on Netflix I jumped at the chance to watch it again. Overall I enjoyed the movie, and not merely because of nostalgia.

The Good:

Special Effects

I’ve always been a fan of phsyical/pratical effects in movies rather than CGI. Puppeteering, claymation, etc are what I love to see. I’ll take buckets of fake blood over digital blood spray any day. Over all the effects in Gremlins stood the test of time for me. In particular there’s a scene with Billy’s mom fighting off the gremlins in her kitchen. The kills made via a microwave, and blender are brilliant and mordidly funny. The gruesome effects of exploding gremlins and blood splatter is visceral and effective. I think that the kitchen scene is the strongest example of great effects and pupeteering in the movie.

At times there are a few shots where the gremlins look really fake/awkward but these were few and far between.  Gremlins may not be as slick and detailed as CGI these days but its visual appeal is great and has a distinct feel to it.

Plot

The overall plot was good, I liked that they spent a decent amount of time establishing the character Billy along with the supporting characters prior to the ensuing chaos of the gremlins. Once the gremlins started spreading chaos across the town the pacing moved at a good clip and the plot was simple but kept the tension levels fairly high. I also liked that the budding romance subplot was put on the back burner rather than fixating on it giving the situation Billy and the town found themselves in.

Characters

The majority of the characters didn’t stand out to me nor did I feel connected to them. Billy was a rather bland character and his love interest didn’t really have much of an impact on the storyline. His parents were there to carry the plot forward, ie giving Billy the present, etc.

Billy’s neighbor, an old man named Murphy(?) was the most interesting to me and I would’ve liked to have seen him play a much bigger role. He was a WWII vet, and knew about gremlins from the war which could have been an asset to Billy later in the movie. He also had a grumpy personality with a sardonic humor to him which could have led to some great scenes. I could see him chomping on a cigar while delievering some solid one-liners as he whooped some gremlin arse.

The old man at the shop where Billy’s dad bought Gizmo seemed interesting as well, considering his knowledge about mogwai and his mannerisms. He could’ve been the equivlant of Obi-Wan or some other wise old sage to Billy, but instead is left with a limited role in the begining and end of the movie.

Acting

I’m not sure if it was mediocre acting or writing, but either way it seemed like at times Billy and his mother and father were far to underwhelmed or casual about what was going on with Gizmo and the other mogwai/gremlins. Even when the other mogwai turn into slimy cocoons everyone seems indifferent almost to it. I think the strongest reaction is the mother screaming but quickly composes herself as if it was completely normal. There are other times throughout the movie where the characters seems dazed/underwhelmed too. I would say the strongest performance was by Billy’s old man neighbor ‘Murphy’.

WTF?

There were a few things in the movie that made me wonder just what the hell was going on. The biggest one to me was the fact that Gizmo, and the other mogwai/gremlins, had the vocabulary of a toddler, yet no one picked up on this or even made mention of it. At one point one of the gremlins is playing a video game and another is playing a toy trumpet yet everyone seems to treat this as perfectly normal and treats them like they’re nothing more than a house pet. Seriously? WTF. If someone gave you a pet that could talk and do stuff like a little kid wouldn’t you be surprised/curious?

The other one was the science teacher that Billy gives a mogwai to for ‘research’. After the gremlin hatches and runs loose in his class room, the genius teacher tries to track it down in the darkened room, instead of turning the lights on, and then meets his demise by reaching under a desk where the gremlin lays in wait for him. His actions made no sense to me.

Regardless of its flaws, Gremlins is still a classic for me. It manages to balance the horror aspect fairly well with the dark humor to deliver an entertaining story. If you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it in years, its worth checking out.

Into The Lair: Enigma of the Worm 01

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Finished this one up basically last weekend after letting it sit for a few weeks without looking at it. I’m happy with the finished drawing, and it’s part of a planned trilogy of pen&ink drawings I’m working on that have the central ‘worm’ theme to them. Eventually they’ll all be matted and framed for my work space down in our finished basement.

This is a fairly large piece for me, 14″ x 17″. I spent 20+ hours working on it, in between diaper changes and wrangling an onery toddler and dealing with an annoying house cat.

 

No Evil (See, Hear, Speak)

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No Evil (See, Hear, Speak) Kevin Hurtack 2017

Things have been rather hectic on the homefront lately, mainly home repairs a la plumbing issues of various kinds. On top of working full time and raising two kids I haven’t been on the interwebs much. Can’t say that’s necessarily a bad thing, though. I find myself spending less time on ‘social’ media these days and wasting time idly browsing online. Whether it’s cause of the current political bullshit spewing from DC here in the ‘States’, or the general climate of society as whole with its ‘Me! Me! Me!’ mentality. Regardless of the reasons I’ve been doing a lot more sketching, even if only during a brief break at work. I think I have more ideas than time these days, but that’s okay. I think the key is to keep the creativity flowing.

Anways, this here is a small piece I did on smooth Bristol with a School nib pen and a Crow quill nib with Speedball Super Black india ink. Gotta say I’m liking that ink a lot and those pen nibs. I also used gouache and a little bit of watercolor on the background. I am happy with the way it turned out. I recently upgraded my brushes to Winsor&Newton’s Cotman line which are quite wonderful to work with and I was lucky to get them during a sale so they didn’t break the bank.

It’s my spin on the old cliche of ‘speak no evil….etc…etc’, as well as another excuse to render yet another wormy creature writhing through the skulls. Apparently that kind of creature is my latest fixation artistically. Worms are creepy in all their forms and I find them a wonderful source of inspiration.

 

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Punk is DEAD

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Punk is Dead – Kevin Hurtack 2017