Throughout history stories of poor souls selling their souls to evil to get what they want have entered our mythology. One of the most famous of all these fables is the German legend of Faust, which appeared in the 16th century, telling of a man who makes a deal for knowledge and magical power in exchange for the eternal damnation of his soul.
Fast forward to the year 2000 and the Fantastic Factory film Faust: Love of the Dammed, which attempts to update and expand the ancient story adding in a kick ass comic book look and tons of sex and gore in the process just for fun.
John Jaspers (Mark Frost) is a talented artist who becomes tortured by the death of his girlfriend at the hands of a sadistic gang. Driven to suicide he is confronted by the mysterious M (the Wishmaster himself Andrew Divoff, giving a great performance) who offers him the power to get revenge in exchange for his soul. With nothing to lose, Jaspers accepts unwittingly becoming a tool for death and destruction controlled by M to do his bidding.
However, when Jaspers breaks free of his control and stops killing he plunges into a catatonic state and is caught by the policeman chasing him – Lt. Dan Margolies (Re-Animator’s Jeffrey Combs).
Imprisoned and destined to rot in a cell, only psychologist Jade de Camp (Isabel Brook from Razor Blade Smile) is left to care for his fractured mind and believing there is more to Jaspers than everyone thinks, Jade manages to unlock him from his trance.
As he tells her the unbelievable truth she realises that there is a bigger conspiracy afoot than she ever imagined. Even involving the doctors in the prison. Escaping with Jade’s help, Jaspers vows revenge on M and his minions, using his demonic powers against the devil who created him and attempting to avert the impending end of the world which they are all working towards.
Faust: Love of the Dammed originated as a comic by Tim Vigil and David Quinn who claim to have inspired Todd MacFarlane to write the far superior Spawn series, which also sees a man sell his soul for demonic powers. In a reverse of inspiration, Spawn was made into a movie coming out several years before Vigil and Quinn’s graphic novel was translated to the screen by director Brian Yuzna for his company Fantastic Factory.
The popularity of comic book movies currently is undeniable, however it is not a new phenomenon. Movies like the Tim Burton’s brilliant Batman, Sam Raimi’s underrated Darkman, the Goth-tastic The Crow and the film that gave Marvel Comics the idea, and the cash, to start this whole super hero cycle back up again – the vampire hunter, martial arts, action-fest that is Blade – are all cases of horror and comics colliding to make marvellous movies.
Taking ideas from all those other comic movies in the neo-Gothic tone and central dark driven anti-hero, Faust also adds in elements from another movie production company famous for making films from comics, Troma. In the amped up sex and gore that fills the film, Troma’s influence is evident, especially in some of the films more grotesque special effects scenes – most notably one involving the over sexed character of Claire (Mònica Van Campen) who is reduced magically by M to a physical caricature of a creature as he inflates the organs she is lustfully driven by to hideous proportions.
Winning the award for Best Special Effects at the 2000 Catalonian International Film Festival in Sitges, the film is a fantastic feat delivering some excellent effects on a low budget. Although look somewhat dated now (especially the end monster) they were still adventurous and well realised.
The flipside of Faust’s trashy, camp, horror, comic stylisation is the inclusion of so much Satanic imagery. From the scenes of sadomasochism to the closing climax where a full on satanic ritual takes place summoning Homunculus himself, the film is full of dark occultism giving it a much more adult edge than expected.
Although by no means as good as many of the other comic book horrors made before it and mentioned in this review, Faust: Love of the Dammed is entertaining and action packed. It combines gleeful gore with a dark serious Satanic side to make an adult movie for comic book and horror fans alike.
As always with an Arrow release, this movie comes packed with extras including audio commentary by the director, double-sided fold-out poster featuring new artwork, collectors’ booklet “Brian Yuzna: Maestro Of Mayhem” by author and critic Calum Waddell and much more.