Faust: Love of the Damned (2000) Movie Review

Early in Brian Yuzna’s Faust: Love of the Damned, a doctor experimenting in what she calls “music therapy” to cure psychotic patients goes into the room of one of her patients, a mass murderer who she has only met a few minutes ago, and hands him a pen with which to write with. Now take into account that the patient has slaughtered and sliced about 30 people just a few hours ago and is clearly insane because he’s in a straightjacket. The doctor, in her infinite wisdom, enters the psychopath’s cell even as the psychopath is writing on the wall with his own blood and is unrestrained.

In another scene, when our fair doctor goes to a caf’ filled with people, she discovers that two thugs with pentagram tattoos on their arms are after her — what does she do? Why, she does what all bright and educated doctors do: she flees the brightly lit and populated caf’ in favor of the dark alley next door! If those two little scenarios don’t get you pumped to see Faust in its entire brainless splendor, than you don’t have a sense of humor. Either that, or you have taste, which would mean you would skip this film.

Faust is based on an underground comic book of the same name written and illustrated by David Quinn and Tim Vigil, respectively. The comic book had its lyrical side, and sometimes the pages actually sounded poetic. That is, of course, if you don’t consider the entire concept of a painter who sells his soul to a Devil-like character called M, and in return gets a pair of shiny metal cuffs that can produce two thong-like pig-stickers, er, blades, to be a little silly.

That seems to be the entire basis for the comic book, although it didn’t seem to matter since the comic series (a mini-series) involved a series of bloody encounters between John Jaspers (later renamed Faust) as he takes on the cops, M’s minions, and anyone else who gets in the way of his pig stickers, er, blades. The comic book was in black and white, and this seemed appropriate for the blood-drenched pages and poetic thoughts of Faust. The movie adaptation, on the other hand, is nothing more than an excuse to see how much carnage you can put on screen and still keep within a million dollar budget.

The star of Faust is Mark Frost, an actor who looks like a permanently-constipated Jim Carrey — how else can you explain the “Oh my God I can’t believe this is happening” expression with the wide-open mouth and the “Oh my God I can’t believe this is happening” expression with the droopy face. Mark Frost has as much range as that turkey about to be someone’s Thanksgiving dinner. The man is simply an embarrassment to the acting profession. Of course he’s in good company, since no one in Faust seems to be able to act. Or speak their English dialogue, for that matter, as more than half of the cast have their English dialogues dubbed over.

In fact, I’m not sure if any of the cast is American. Isabel Brook (the not-so-smart Doctor Jade de Camp) has a British accent that gets mixed in with her attempt at an American accent. The rest of the cast must not have even tried an American accent, since their dubbed over voice was obviously not their own. (How do I know? Well for one the mouth movements and dialogue doesn’t match!) Although Andrew Divoff (M) seems to be the only undubbed voice along with Brook.

Bad acting aside, Faust suffers from a lack of respect for good, competent storytelling. The movie takes place over the course of a night (or so it seems) but looks disjointed, as if it’s taking place over a couple of weeks, or days at the least. And yet, in that one night, Jade becomes obsessed and falls head-over-heels in love with Jaspers, who responds in kind. Gee, what kind of love pills are these two downing? Director Brian Yuzna’s obsession with repetitive and disgusting gore doesn’t help the film.

What Yuzna mistakes for a good story is a series of scenes where Faust shoves his pig stickers into a person’s stomach and the blades exit their backs. That, and Faust slicing off people’s hands. I must have counted at least a dozen times when Faust slices off someone’s hand at the wrist. Save much on special effects, Brian? How about creativity?

Films like Faust are low budget, and this explains why it was shot in Spain, which I think is supposed to represent New York. (The comic book takes place in New York.) Foreign locations, of course, cost less because the crew labor is cheaper than the unionized crew in the States. For about half of the movie I was wondering where the movie was shot, which helped me to keep my mind off the miserable experience of having to sit through the film itself.

Ironically, the main character in Faust makes a pact with the Devil to get his revenge — I only wish getting back the hour and a half I wasted on this movie was so easy.

Brian Yuzna (director) / Tim Vigil, David Quinn (graphic novel)
CAST: Mark Frost …. John/Faust
Jennifer Rope …. Blue
Isabel Brook …. Jade de Camp
Jeffrey Combs …. Lt. Dan Margolies
Monica Van Campen …. Claire

Buy Faust: Love of the Damned on DVD