So hand’s up who likes Spawn? Right, Now hands up who liked the film? Less hands up now I guess, and I’d guess those that did drop their hands didn’t like it for it’s lack of darkness or gore. See Spawn was made for a PG-13/12 certificate at a time before it was the norm for every other film to pop in there. At a time when films like Blade could do decent business despite being and R/18 rated film. It was toned down in order to get the biggest audience possible because Todd McFarlane was smart enough to realise he had a niche property that couldn’t stand a chance of bringing in a return with all it’s demonic imagery and violence. It wasn’t, in my opinion, the wrong move. The only way you could make a film like that and keep it violent and dark was to go ultra low budget. And on that note meet Faust.
Faust is based on a comic book series (seems to be a running theme on this blog) created by Tim Vigil and David Quinn in 1988 about a man that, after just losing his girlfriend to a violent crime, makes a deal with the devil to have the power to get revenge and a second chance at life. Sounds a little familiar doesn’t it? That’s cos it’s almost undeniable that Spawn took some influence from this comic. Both are, obviously, based on the ancient German tale of Faust, both are dark and violent and both have a demonic anti-hero in the lead. This film adaptation of Faust Love Of The Damned is essentially doing what the Spawn film could not. It’s brutally violent, has strong Satanic imagery and isn’t afraid to deal with some dark, dark subject matters. Is it better than Spawn, not at all. Does it have it’s charms? By the gory bucket load.
Faust stars a bounty of B-movie regulars and random tv actors. The titular character, for example, is played by British tv regular Mark Frost. Don’t know who he is? Check out his IMDB page. He’s that guy that crops up in near every British tv show but makes so little impact that you never remember him. I wondered why his accent kept slipping into various British ones over the course of the film. That IMDB page pretty much explains that. The biggest star in Faust is easily Jeffrey Combs. Possibly one of the greatest B-movie stars of the modern era he appears to have some sort of deal with director Brian Yuzna to appear in everything he makes. Probably as a thankyou for launching his career with Re-Animator. He’s not unwelcome but when he’s not playign a creepy weirdo he doesn’t really seem necessary. He does get a chance to weird out towards the end though so I guess he gets to do what he came to eventually.
As far as the women of Faust we have a doctor who has one hell of a dark past that becomes a love interest for Faust’s alter ego John Jasper, despite him getting frisky with the female bad guy seemingly within hours of losing his girlfriend. The love interest is the somewhat aptly named Jade De Camp (Isabel Brook), she is a psychiatrist that uses music as therapy then spends the film running from Faust and bad guys until she decides she’s in love with John Jasper. I think we’re supposed to take it that her messed up past makes her attracted to monsters but it doesn’t really come across too well possibly thanks to her lack of engagement to the role. She just seems to be there reading lines rather than doing any real acting. That said she really gets into her role in the more campy moments at the films climax. Speaking of climaxes, the female antagonist and assistant to big bad M (Andrew Divoff of Wishmaster fame) is the rather normally named Claire. Why would you name the duplicitous assistant to the devil Claire? Odd. Anyway, she can’t keep her clothes on so I have no issues with her performance.
The film moves a long a a decent enough pace, never more than a few minutes away from someone getting cut to pieces. there seems to be someones hand getting cut off every few minutes like it was one special effect they were real proud of so they used it multiple times. There’s quite a lot of flashbacks and dream sequences but they’ve always been a trait of this sort of B-Movie schlock. Special effects are pretty straight forward but kinda cool for such a low budget film. Some are pretty effective such as the aforementioned hand removals. Some just look plain silly such as the giant rubber glove puppet Faust fights at the end and the ensuing fight itself. Basically Faust jumps up and down a few times swinging his arm like a cat trying to jump up to a toy mouse held just out of it’s reach. It’s all part of the charm though so I can forgive it.
Music and sound editing is a nice mixed bag of weirdness. Sound effects are either way too loud or they’re drowned out by other effects. A hell of a lot of stock effects are used too. At one point a regular door to a cell opens with the sliding door sound from Doom, the game not the film. also that one crazy scream that’s not the Wilhelm scream is used about 3 times. Musically there’s some bizarre sex scene music used about 4 or 5 times whenever Jade is doing some sort of writhing around, maybe it’s her theme. It’s an odd theme that’s for sure. The majority of the soundtrack was provided by Roadrunner Records and is full of the usual early 2000′s metal bands such as Fear Factory and the amazing Machine Head. Being a bit of a metaller I welcomed this even if it did feel like it was just slapped over the action like oh so many Naruto AMVs on Youtube.
Brian Yuzna is a skilled director. For the budget and he has he does manage to pull off quite a few cool stylistic shots. the shadows from Faust’s 2 claws making his name appear on a grave with the letters AUS inexplicably etched into it is quite an awesome comic booky shot. He takes any opportunity to get similarly comic book style shots off which is always a trait I like to see in this sort of film. Embrace the source material and all that jazz. Otherwise the film is shot in a straight forward manner. it does look quite a lot like it’s a early 90s tv production but again, budgetary constraints will do that to your film. It never stops looking interesting though. Every set and shot seems to be composed to make sure there’s plenty to look at around the screen. I’m not saying the set dressing is on the level of something like Bladerunner, nothing is, but they did one hell of a job with what they had to make sure nothing looked dull.
Overall this film was never gonna win any awards… Well apart from the Best Special Effects one it got from the Sitges Catalonian Film Awards… Yeah. Anyway it’s a schlocky piece of B-movie fun that has plenty of gore (a skewer through the jaw and out the eyeballs being a personal favorite) and is loaded wit the darkness and satanic imagery that was missing from Spawn. It’s not a great film by any stretch of the imagination but for what it is it’s good for a laugh and the sort of film you’ll show to your friends just because it’s so bat-shit insane.