Mònica Van Campen
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Faust: Love of the Damned (2000)
8th Oct 11
A demonic superhero seeks revenge in a comic book movie filled with breasts and gore. Somehow, it’s really bad.
Based on a series of “adult” comic books, Faust: Love of the Damned is Brian Yuzna’s remarkably trashy bash at the superhero movie. It seems to be the answer to some wank happy 14 year old boy’s prayer and that prayer may have gone something like this:
“Dear Brian. What I really want to see is a movie with a superhero who’s dead dark. Dark like Batman but not in a crappy 12 cert kinda way, but in a The Crow or Blade 18 cert kinda way. Yeah that’s it; a tough guy who looks like Batman but with supernatural powers who really enjoys killing people for revenge like The Crow or just because he’s good at it like Blade. It needs to be gory as fuck too so could he have Wolverine style wrist claws as weapons? Actually make that Predator style razors that come out of his wrists like Wolverine’s. And can he be mischievous and wisecracking like The Mask? The soundtrack would need to totally rock too, so I wanna hear Machine Head, Sepultura, Fear Factory and other badass metal dudes from Roadrunner Records roster. Oh and boobs; I want lots and lots of boobs with a sexy bad girl as well as a sexy good girl. So what I wanna see is Batman, Blade, The Crow, Wolverine, Predator, Spawn (forgot to mention him. he’s cool) and The Mask rolled into one bloody blend with a metal score and tonnes of sleaze. Hope you heard this, Brian. Goodnight”
Mr Yuzna was listening very attentively to this young lad’s request and gave him absolutely everything he asked for. Sadly (very very sadly) what on paper sounds like a whole bowl of awesome doesn’t always make for a good movie and while Yuzna wasn’t aiming for a quality work of art, what he’s delivered is barely watchable.
Like 99% of comic book movies the first half is dedicated to the origin of our hero. Jim Jaspers (Mark Frost) is an artist whose lovely girlfriend is killed by nasty gangsters. At the brink of suicide he is approached by the “mysterious” (read clearly evil) M (Andrew Divoff) with an offer of brutal killing power so he can seek revenge. Unfortunately this deal with the dark side comes at a price (the only real resemblance to the Faust myth proper) and when Jaspers is unwilling to become Satan’s hitman, he gets buried in the ground and then escapes somehow to seek even MORE revenge with even GREATER killing power to stop M from bringing about the end of days. I think.
It’s all very stupid and derivative and would work fine as a set up for pulp carnage but Yuzna bizarrely opts to tell this part of the story though a series of confusing flashbacks, perhaps in a bid to disguise how stupid and derivative it is. But hey now all that back-story is out the way the mayhem should be all plain sailing right? Hell no!
Yuzna’s directorial output ranges from the perverse satirical genius of Society (his one true classic) to the solid bonkersness of the Re-animator sequels and Dentist schlockfests to shockingly dull dross like Rottweiler and Beneath Still Waters. In short he has his very good days and his very bad days. Amongst them Faust: Love of the Damned is his only crack at action and it shows. All the hero has to do is slaughter a bunch of bad guys with sadistic glee but despite arterial spray and bad one-liners aplenty the action is so clumsily choreographed and the pacing so listless as to remove any hint of excitement. The final showdown in particular is maybe the lamest “climax” in action movie history despite featuring a giant snake monster and taking place in the middle of an orgy!
In fairness Yuzna and his team didn’t have the biggest budget to work with and some of FX maestro Screaming Mad George’s crazy fleshy creations provide a perverted kick (a woman mutating into a giant set of tits’n’butt-cheeks does stick in the mind) but for the most part this is cheap without the thrill.
The cast are a mixed sack of hammers. Frost as the lead gives a truly odd performance that ranges from fascinatingly awful to embarrassingly so, while genre legend/whore Jeffrey Combs takes the thankless role of a dodgy cop and does it justice. Divoff does alright with his Wishmaster growling villain schtick but we’ve seen him do this so many times I’m convinced that when asleep the man exhales an evil cackle. Isabel Brook as the romantic interest gets the worst deal, a damsel in distress saddled with a really out of place and distasteful child abuse back-story. Best of the bunch is Monica Van Campen who provides most of the sleaze content as rarely clothed femme fatale Claire. It’s a part that only calls for dangerous sex appeal and fortunately Van Campen seems to have plenty to spare (and a darned sexy nose).
Via the good people at Arrow Video, Faust: Love of the Damned gets their usual cultists-gone-wild array of special features (even if the film’s as piss-poor as this, these folks’ll give you special features dammit). The commentary and interviews with Yuzna are telling; he explains he was never familiar with the comics before the script came his way, only directed it cause pal Stuart Gordon passed and all throughout the commentary whenever something comes up that’s a bit dull, tasteless or muddled (which is often) Yuzna brushes it off with a “it’s how it is in the comic”. This begs the question why he was so blindly faithful to a property he had no real affection for?
Faust: Love of the Damned can only be recommended as viewing for those who simply MUST see every comic book movie ever made or as dire proof that even when you have all the right dirty ingredients for cinematic junk food you can still be left with a nasty taste in your mouth. That 14 year old boy must be mighty disappointed. Unless he just wanted a movie as good as Spawn. That’s right. It’s that bad.