Thursday, January 19, 2017

Faust: Love of the Damned


   I found myself browsing my eternal watchlist of movies today, and decided on watching this early 00's comic book movie. But, of course, like any good little nerd, I did my research first. I got my hands on some of the comics and checked them out. Sex, violence, more sex, more violence, and more satanic imagery than you could shake an entire 80's heavy metal band at. Sounds like it's right up my alley! So how would the movie approach such graphic and vulgar material? You get Brian Yuzna to direct it, that's fucking how.

   The first note I mentally took while watching Faust: Love of the Damned, was that leading man Mark Frost was incredibly hard to watch, but simultaneously pitch perfect for the role of John Jaspers. He alternates between mumbling most of his lines through an ugly-cry face, or yelling them with the fury of a thousand dying suns. There is rarely any middle ground, and when there is- it's a a dopey thousand yard stare. In short... Frost hams it right the fuck up. God, I half expected him to choke because he wasn't just chewing scenery, he was shoving it down his throat wholesale. It takes a lot to be a scene stealer in a movie full of actors who are great at the same kind of shit.

Wasn't kidding about the ugly cry.
   Don't mistake my description of his acting as a criticism. Frost is relentlessly entertaining. Doubly so once he's kitted out in full bodysuit and impaling bad guys on his Predator-like claws. (Or yeah Wolverine claws, whatever, shut up.) Frost looks great in the Faust suit, and the special effects are a treat- from the splatter-happy gore to all the satanic super powers on display. Ultimately, Faust: Love of the Damned is a 90 something minute exercise in bad taste and it's frickin' wonderful. It's characters are put through horrible things, people are dismembered, impaled, and tortured- and even when it tests the limits of the audience (one character is forced to relive the memory of her rape when she was 11 years old,) the movie is too stupid and "edgy" to offend in earnest.

   But no no no, the movie doesn't stop there. It aims to gross out anyone it couldn't offend (just like the comics). The climax of the movie revolves around a satanic rituals- complete with human sacrifice, a full-on orgy/murder-fest, and all of this is shown in fairly explicit detail. The movie is gleefully over the top, but anyone who is genuinely disturbed by anything in Faust, probably shouldn't be watching it in the first place. It's not unlike the artwork of a heavy metal album come to life in full bloody glory. Honestly, It's fucking awesome. Whenever Faust is hacking and slashing at baddies and anyone who gets in his path, the movie soars. It's brilliantly violent, and I loved that about it.

   The movie also stars Andrew Divoff as 'M' who near as I can tell is like, the devil- or at least the next best thing. Divoff is an excellent counterpoint to Frost. He's actually pretty haunting in the role, which requires far too much flamboyancy for the kind of nuanced performance he's trying to put in. He's a major highlight of the movie. Then we also have Jeffrey Combs as a police detective. A good role that went to shit unfortunately, and there's the start of the issues with this movie. It absolutely comes apart at the seams, embodying the worst and most easily criticized aspects of comic books.

   Characters make mind boggling decisions, complete with about-face betrayals that happen in a vacuum of good sense and logic. The plot plays fast and loose with it's own established rules without providing the audience with any justifying context whatsoever. Things seem to just... happen, after a while. It's terribly unfocused- that is, only if you stop to think about it. Whatever flaws Faust has are easily overlooked thanks to it's reckless approach to a good time. Special effects, ear blasting metal music, tits, ass, sex, gore, violence and edgy content galore in this all you can eat horror/comic-book movie.

   Sure, I would've liked more of Frost as Faust in his own movie, and there was far too much of Divoff as M. But what we got, as imperfect as it is, was still a blast. Put simply, if I'm going to make excuses for a comic book movie specifically about a guy who sells his soul for revenge and satanic super powers- I'm going to defend Faust instead of Spawn. The former is absolutely the movie that the latter should've been. Neither is particularly, good, but at least one of them is unabashedly self-indulgent and totally fun.

Actually... all of Frost's facial expressions. They're all gold.

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