Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #152
Number of Views: One
Release Date: October 12, 2000 (Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival)
Sub-Genre: Schlock Horror
Country of Origin: Spain
Running Time: 98 minutes
Director: Brian Yuzna
Producers: Julio Fernández, Brian Yuzna
Screenplay: David Quinn, Miguel Tejada-Flores
Based on a graphic novel by: Tim Vigil, David Quinn,
Special Effects: Screaming Mad George, Poli Cantero, Tom Steves, Dirk Rogers
Visual Effects: Jaume Vilaseca
Cinematography: Jacques Haitkin
Score: Xavier Capellas
Editing: Luis de la Madrid
Studios: Castelao Producciones, Fantastic Factory (Filmax), TVC, Vía Digital
Distributors: Lionsgate Films, Filmax International, Arrow Home Video (DVD), Best Buy Movie GmbH (BBM)
Stars: Mark Frost, Isabel Brook, Jennifer Rope, Andrew Divoff, Jeffrey Combs, Mònica Van Campen, Leslie Charles, Fermí Reixach, Junix Inocian, Robert Paterson, Marc Martínez, Clare Leach, Francisco Maestre, Ronny Svensson, Julia Davies
Suggested Audio Candy
Fear Factory “Replica”
Brian Yuzna is a film-maker I have long since been utterly fascinated with. As well as being responsible for the Re-Animator sequels, he presented us with one of the most macabre movies ever to be committed to celluloid with Society as well as one of the most underrated films of the eighties in Return of the Living Dead III. Here he tackles a German comic book legend which begins as a tragidrama about moral abandonment but, in true Yuzna style, descends into a diabolical, splatter-laden phantasm with all the debauchery we have come to expect from the director and not a great deal of logic.
From its gory opening scene Faust lays its cards on the table, it is loud, messy and crass but, whereas Society had the substance as well as the style, here it is all about the latter. It focuses around artist John Jaspers (Mark Frost) who, looking to exact his bloody retribution on the gang responsible for murdering his girlfriend, decides no harm, no foul to selling his soul to the cantankerous ‘M’ (Andrew Divoff) in exchange for a pair of wrist-mounted blades and a whole host of supernatural abilities. To add a little spice to the wager M harbors plans of unleashing his Homunculus, a giant Lizard-like beast, opening the gateway to hell itself.
Divoff has already proved with Wishmaster that he is not exactly one to trust when approached in a darkened alley and the casting here is spot-on. Jaspers ignores the small print and signs up willingly but enters into a hellish tryst in the process which is bound to culminate in a one-to-one battle to the death with ‘M’ after his antagonists have met their squelchy fate. It sounds so good on paper but Yuzna’s film is so wildly uneven that it becomes a tough film to adulate and even more troublesome just fathoming.
Fortunately you’d imagine, Jeffery Combs is on hand to steer the vessel back towards the promised land but his character is handled all wrong, starting as a sympathetic lead, which is somewhat against type I might add, before being consigned to the back seat until which time as he sees fit to resurface. Once he does he has undertaken a change of heart which is beyond preposterous. It is bizarre use of such a distinguished horror icon and rather uncharacteristically Yuzna largely fritters the actor’s exceptional endowments.
Gloriously, he also enlists the talents of Screaming Mad George who supplies all manner of grotesque imagery and satisfying schlock to sweeten the deal and, on this front, Faust excels. The graphic novels by David Quinn and Tim Vigil are known for being ‘out there’ and this translates brilliantly to the outré grue, which flows in every conceivable direction and is well realized for the most part. George isn’t concerned with daintily implemented dispatches and instead grabs a few bags of latex leftovers from Society and commences to slap it about like a Nazi war criminal at a bar mitzvah.
When you attach the likes of Brian Yuzna to your project there are a number of areas you need not worry about. The visual energy and shot composition are exceptional as expected, while the quick-cut editing is as razor-sharp as Jasper’s new-fangled talons. From a visceral standpoint Faust succeeds without question. As an overall package however, I couldn’t help but be left somewhat wanting and it just doesn’t tie together as a cohesive whole.
There are enough plot irregularities and tonal discrepancies to sink a lesser ship but Yuzna’s just about manages to remain afloat, albeit after taking significant hull damage. It is a bizarre hybrid of Hellraiser, Mortal Kombat and The Crow which shoehorns enough charisma in amongst the utter befuddlement to warrant sticking with until its fire and brimstone finale. Jaspers is a tough character to empathize with, gurning and whining for much of his screen time, before about-facing to exhibit supreme wit and swagger when faced with the opportunity for carnage. In keeping with much of Faust, it just doesn’t sit right.
Where it all becomes a tad convoluted is in its treatment of loss and personal redemption. We are not given nearly enough reasons to care and it all feels a touch hollow. Given the source material it is hard not to view this as a missed trick on Yuzna’s part as he pretty much has the world at his feet with such an outlandish premise and doesn’t appear to have a handle on it. It becomes a case of good outweighing bad and thankfully it just about manages the feat. Faust: Love of the Damned is a whole lot of fun but, considering the players, it could have been so much more.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 6/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: The presence of Screaming Mad George signifies that you won’t be coming away disappointed in these respects. Faust’s S&M styling perfectly matches his skill set and he brings to the table more than enough head lopping, heart snacking and eye gouging to satisfy all but the most insatiable appetite for destruction. One scene stands out and demonstrates that he hasn’t quite got Society out of his system. Anyone considering breast and/or butt enlargement would be well-advised to watch his safety video on the perils of reconstructive surgery as demonstrated with some larger than life inflatable T&A.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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