Faust: Love of the Damned (2000)

Alrighty…  I haven’t yet had enough of demons and devils and shit.  So let’s keep that rolling with this week’s feature – Faust: Love of the Damned.

What’s really interesting about this movie is that it’s directed by Brian Yuzna who’s been involved in several great horror movies of the 80s from Re-Animator to From Beyond to Society to… Honey, I Shrunk the Kids…?!?  No shit?  Huh.  Well, he also produced Ticks, a movie I familiarized myself with a couple months back.

Interestingly enough, it is also a comic book adaptation.  And on the surface, you might think this is simply a ripoff of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, but hold your horses on that assumption.  Yes, Faust features an anti-hero who has sold his soul to the devil to kill bad guys and stuff, but Faust’s comic was first published in 1987, a full five years before Spawn.  It might be that the movie version was inspired by the Spawn movie that, itself, came out a few years before Faust.

Got it?  Good.

I haven’t seen this movie before, but knowing Yuzna’s track record, I’m gonna guess there is some real gross shit in this flick.  Remember that scene in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in which Rick Moranis turned into a gooey blob of flesh and every character fucked all the orifices that he grew in his silly putty pile of sweaty skin?  You don’t ever forget stuff like that.

This movie, no shit begins with nearly 1 minute of production company credits.  I won’t even say logos because that is something very common these days, but legit just credits of companies.  Like I said, it is something common in 2019, however, whenever you see so many hands in the cookie jar it is still kind of a joke.

Anyway, the movie begins with John Jaspers (played by Mark Frost), waking up on his floor and seeing his girl friend crucified upside down and dead.  He is then sent to the asylum where Jeffrey Combs, playing a police detective, Margolies, whispers to a doctor about how he isn’t as catatonic as he seems and “he knew what he was doing the whole time.”

We’re treated to a short flashback of Margolies responding to a hostage or terrorist situation at some fancy house.  When he arrives, he sees blood pouring out from under the front door and like the action man we all know Jeffrey Combs to be, he decides he’s going in to diffuse this situation.  When he enters, he sees all sorts of carnage and craziness.  He is attacked by Jaspers with Wolverine-like claws, but Jaspers refuses to kill him as ordered by a woman in a burka.  When he stops attacking, Jaspers just retreats into his catatonic state and basically is unable to explain any of his involvement with killing a bunch of real bad dudes at the bad guy dinner party.

On the way out, Margolies literally runs into Dr. Jade de Camp, a hot psychiatrist who is working to figure out what’s going on with Jaspers.  While Jade works on Jaspers, Margolies tries to talk to his commissioner about the woman he saw and some group called the Hand that all comes across like Margolies is utterly insane or overworked or both.

Elsewhere, we meet M.  M seems to be a big shot.  He sits around watching all the TVs in his super spooky, super glitzy bad guy home.  The lady with the burka that Margolies saw enters and reports to him saying that what Jaspers did was pretty fucking awesome and everything seemed to work out just right.  Not only that, but she’s a busty henchwoman who is more than happy to reveal that she is not all that into bras or clothing that isn’t see-through.

Awesome.

She reports, while seemingly having an orgasm, that Jaspers did not go all the way in killing everyone.  As we know, he let Margolies go.  I’m not sure if Margolies was an actual target or just a “let’s see if he’ll just wipe out all the witnesses” type of thing, but M makes a call and suddenly, Jade’s boss says she has to stop working with Jaspers.  But what’s most important is that we’ve met all our major players – Jaspers, our Faust, his new love interest Jade, Margolies who is about to uncover some real freaky shit, M who is totally Mephistopheles, and his really sexed up henchlady.

A heavy metal song snaps Jaspers out of his catatonia and he tells Jade everything about his girlfriend, Blue, getting killed, his selling his soul to be a demon monster who will kill all bad guys, and what happened at the fancy bad guy party.  The important thing, though, is that we see Jaspers’ relationship with Blue and his apparent deep love for her.

However, this scene sticks out to me for a little thing that my brain ALWAYS picks up on.  Each of the three women we’ve seen to this point in the movie all have accents ranging from very thick to not-quite-as-thick-but-I-definitely-know-it-is-there-so-where-are-you-from lightness.  I know this movie is made really cheaply and efficiently, and at least half of the production credits at the beginning seemed to reveal that this movie was made by multiple other countries, but it really is very noticeable and something I will have to try very hard not to focus on so much that it distracts me from, you know, the plot and stuff.  It does seem as though Blue, Jaspers’ girlfriend, was smuggled into the country by the bad guys who ultimately kill her.   So at least one accent is diametric to the plot.

The first act of this movie is very comic book in structure and style.  It’s also very quick, very fast paced, and succinct.  Like, Jaspers is fucking pissed, and this guy with oddly long fingernails and a real sexy lady friend comes up and says, “Hey, you’re mad, we get it…  Why not sell me your soul and you’ll be able to kill everyone who wronged you?”  That doesn’t seem entirely on the up and up, but, if you are missing your hot girlfriend, I guess there is some logic behind all this.  Again, it is a comic book.  We are missing some of the inner dialog and captions that help us know what’s going through the characters’ minds.  I feel like it’s a case of how do you get from basic story of guy’s girlfriend getting killed and he wants revenge to some seriously Brian Yuzna-style shit?

It turns out the answer to that question is give about 25 minutes of your 99 minute movie to the comic book back story, then infuse the violent visuals of the comic book with Brian Yuzna-style shit!

Once Jaspers gets his revenge on the ones who killed his girlfriend, he tells M he doesn’t want to do anymore killing.  He got his fill and he’s… pretty good now.  M tells him that isn’t the case.  He made a deal.  He is M’s slave and will basically kill whoever he says.  The burka chick with the big boobs fucks Jaspers in the shower and says they could probably overthrow M or something?  Jaspers tells Jade about resisting M and that they will be coming for him and she should probably get a move on because it’s gonna be real messy and dangerous soon.

Sure enough, M sends some goons to get Jaspers so he can bury him alive.  He also tells his sexy henchlady that she’s got something special planned for Jade.  He sends a goon to follow her.  After Jaspers is taken, she calls Margolies who is doing all sorts of Google research on devil shit.  She tells him that the doctor at the asylum and the cops actually knew who Jaspers was the whole time.  While Margolies is on the way to meet Jade, Jaspers has a weird fever dream and is reborn as Faust – a full on demon monster guy.  M’s men try to kidnap Jade, but Faust shows up to brutally murder them.

This is a pretty good time to talk about the state of comics at the time Faust was originally released in comic book form and when this movie was made.  I think it is important to understand the choices made and how point A would ultimately connected to point B.

In the mid 1980s, the comic book industry was still being dominated by the “Big Two” – Marvel and DC.  Those two companies were mostly producing comics for youths or, possibly, teenage readers.  Superheroes, more brightly colored heroic types, and cartoonish animal funnies were still basically found everywhere.  By the late 1960s, magazines and independent comic publishers would start churning out slightly more mature fare.  You’d see horror comics, adult comics with more sexuality and violence, start to creep into what became known as the “direct market”, or, as we know them today, comic book stores.

By the era that Faust would eventually be published, Marvel and DC weren’t ignorant to the idea that 1) their readers were growing up and becoming more mature in their tastes and 2) they could throw some of their weight into the mature readers market with relative ease.  Marvel had an imprint called Epic Comics that focused on the more mature content, but DC would make a huge splash by proudly using their logo on Watchmen by Alan Moore and The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.  This ushered in the “grimdark” era of comics from the moment those exploded onto the scene to this very day, though its most major impact would be felt through the 90s.

The publishers, the market, and the prospectors would, in my opinion, gravely overestimate the actual value and legitimacy of the grimdark era.  Throughout the 90s, heroes got dirtier and less clearly heroic.  Stories were much more violent and saw the rise of anti-heroes like the Punisher, Vigilante, Ghost Rider, Venom, and pretty much everything Rob Liefeld would shit out after eating five burritos at Taco Bell.  It was, almost entirely, appealing to angst-ridden teenagers and young men.  It was far more crude, sexual, and low-brow.  It was, honestly, directed mostly to the lowest common denominator or to guys’ basest hormonal urges.

That is not to say it was all bad, but it was much more forgettable ideas than anything else.  Superman and Captain America shouldn’t be more violent or darker or dealing with grittier subject matter, but how can we deny what the readers want RIGHT NOW?  However, it would be Image Comics that would soon come along and create an entire line of anti-heroes for people to eat up – for better or worse.  Faust certainly benefited from the grimdark, but it was also an indie from a much smaller publisher trying to appeal to a very specific or narrower market than the larger publishers.  Oddly, though, I can’t help but wonder about Image Comics’ poster child of the grimdark era, Spawn, and how much inspiration (or more) it took from this character.  I also can’t help but wonder about how much this movie was inspired by (or more) from the Spawn movie in 1997.  I also can’t help but constantly picture a snake eating itself and what that symbolism might be trying to tell me.

Well…  While I was going on that diatribe, Faust was basically ending motherfuckers left and right to a heavy metal soundtrack.  He is stabbing people with his claws.  He is throwing people around.  He is saving Jade.  He is doing acrobatics.  He is slicing heads off.  He’s flat out murdering bad guys all over the place.

Also, it is entirely clear that everyone is working for M or is crooked in some way.  The doctor, the police commissioner, and who knows who else.  Basically, anyone who isn’t Faust, Jade, or Margolies is a bad guy… At least for now.

I also want to talk about the evil sexy henchlady for a moment.  One of the goons that was trying to kidnap Jade comes over to M’s place and is greeted by her.  By the way, her name is Clare, but that is not nearly sexy enough of a name for her.  Like, instantly, she gets on the dining room table and wants to fuck the goon.  I mean…  Wow.  She’s…  She’s dedicated to her lust and I appreciate that quality.  She even slits the dude’s throat just for a little extra kink to satisfy her needs.  Again…  I’m not gonna say I’m not into that because I definitely appreciate her dedication to the big O.

However, she kinda fucks up.  Just before killing the guy, he says something about a guy with razor claws.  M, watching because is that kind of creep, tries to stop her so he can learn more.  She even teases M about not being able to appropriately finish off Jaspers and maybe she can have some fun, sexy time with him too.  Maybe, just maybe, she and Jaspers can be something even greater than M himself.

He decides to remind her what she would be without his power – just a Brian Yuzna pile of gooey tits and ass.

Okay… that was super gross.  I don’t have anything more to say than it reminds me of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

Other than gooey tit-butt lady, the most significant things that happen in the second act is that Jade discovers Jaspers is Faust after he breaks into her house, rambles about needing to protect her, and then murders two cops claiming them to be demons sent by M, and that Jade apparently has some nightmares about something she saw as a child.

Also, when the police commissioner and the doctor try to take Jade for M, Margolies, I suppose, realizes something’s up, and Faust murders a bunch more cops.

To try to convince Jade that he’s a good guy, he keeps spouting off things about her not being able to cure the sickness that is man, how he is a demon that will tear down the walls of science and change the perception of man or some such shit, and how the man Jade is trying to help is dead.  He says all this shit with THE CRAZIEST LOOK in his eyes.  So Jade asks if he’s going to rape her, and he’s like, “You tell me what you want.” And then she’s all like:

“I’ve wanted you from the moment I first saw you.”

Which, I think is clinically dumb movie for “I have severe issues” because the first time she saw him, he was just brought in after killing 19 people, he stared into nothingness, was wearing a straitjacket, and the second time she saw him, he was scribbling shit on the wall with his own blood.  Considering Jade is sincerely whacked out of her gourd and harbors some sincere psychological issues, I believe long time readers will surely know exactly what I’m gonna say next:

I’m real into Jade.

Anyway, all the bad guys who work for M meet and the police commissioner asks just what exactly he’s supposed to tell the mayor because he’s real keen on having Jaspers captured.  M is none too pleased with the commissioner’s attitude and kills him.  Luckily, Margolies is there to witness because he sneaked in… somehow.  Honestly, this movie is weird, man.  There’s a demon “hero”, a demon “villain”, Jeffery Combs is there, a sexy lady turned into a pile of goo, this rape plot that Jade reveals from when she was little that prevents her from having boyfriends or something, and foreign people all over the place.

Speaking of Jade, she’s kind of a big dummy.  Margolies got caught spying on M.  Next thing we know, he calls Jade and tells her he found the contract for Jaspers and she should come to M’s place – ALONE.  She’s like, “Yeah, cool.” and does so.  This is an obvious trap.  Why you don’t take the demon hero guy with you, I do not know.  She does indeed find the contract in the center of a room with all sorts of pictures of M and Hitler and other guys over time.  Also, apparently Margolies is a bad guy now or something.  He’s also like completely devoted like an insane man.

Jade agrees to a deal with M – free Jaspers from his contract in exchange for her body.  You see, M needs someone to birth, I dunno, the devil I guess?  However, there is treachery afoot, though!  The doctor incapacitates M and his sexy henchwoman blows his head off and takes over M’s operations – which seemingly involves sexually torturing Jade.  However, there is a twist afoot!  I guess M has taken the doctor’s body just before his sexy henchwoman killed him so M can live again or something?  Anyway, sexy lady starts fucking about with Jade.  Since sexy lady was the embodiment of lust for M, she’s planning on doing that to Jade or something.

Man…  I just don’t know.  I do not know.  That last paragraph was exhausting to write.   And here’s the thing, dear readers – it really should not have been.  Fuck, sexy henchwoman is like whipping and sexing up Jade and Jade is sincerely digging it and like sucking on her fingers and shit.  I should be really, really into it.  And I kinda am, but that’s the problem.  I’m only kinda into it.  I should be all on board at this point, but, alas, something seems to be missing in this movie.

Alright, so Jade is on an altar and really turned on.  Like, she’s grinning like a goon, writhing around the altar and stuff.  M pulls a snake out of his sexy henchwoman’s stomach and feeds it to Margolies who exclaims, “All my life I wanted the truth and now I AM THE TRUTH!”

Question:  When?  Like…  Seriously, when, Margolies?  When in your life, as it pertains to this movie, have you been obsessed with “the truth”?  Okay, sure, you really wanted to know what happened to those first 19 people Jaspers killed, but were you fanatically obsessed with it?  I’m going to have to say no, you weren’t.  I’m going to guess there was subtext in the comic for all this, but if you aren’t going to use the subtext, you can’t really use it in the movie.  Either don’t have Margolies turn or don’t have him in the movie as a fairly unshakable hero – especially when Faust is a murdering anti-hero.  Jade’s whole turn is at least sort of set up.  It was kind of flimsy and it’s still on shaky ground, but there are some subtextual threads we can tie from her past to her now submitting to pleasure completely.  But the Margolies stuff is weird, out of character, and probably should be cut.

But keep this shit in…  I’m kind of into this stuff:

Okay…  Maybe this too.  Um…  I’m asking for a friend.

After Jeffrey Combs gobbles that live snake, people start killing themselves and each other to start some sort of ceremony for Hell to come to Earth or something.  Faust busts in like the fucking Batman.  He sees Jade has been turned into some sort of sexy slut and it basically sucks out his demon powers or something.  He goes back to his human and catatonic state and is forced to watch M fuck the shit out of Jade.

He blasts a load into Jade’s lady cave and a giant penis monster rises from a pit.  It turns out that, despite her visions of her rape when she was little being by a gross Brian Yuzna monster, it was actually her father who raped her…  So, there’s that.  Jade is ordered to kill Jaspers but she snaps out of whatever she’s under, frees him instead and he turns in to Faust to… do… nothing.  He does nothing for several moments.  While all of M’s followers are killed by the penis monster, Jade stabs M.  Faust I guess kills the penis demon.  Jade negotiates Jaspers’ release in exchange for her sexy, sexy body and the child he thinks he’s seeded in her.  But M is a fucking moron because Jade doesn’t have a womb, and I feel like Mephistopheles should know that if he’s really that much wanting her to birth a monster thing.  She even explains (to all of us because this is something I needed to have heard) that after her dad raped her, that thing got destroyed.

Jaspers is freed so he can kill M, but he dies also because… he just does, okay?  I don’t know nuthin’ about nuthin’.  He’s just dead.  And don’t fucking expect any explanation because he dies, Jade cries, and credits rise.

See, here again we have me asking what the subtext might have been for the final scenes of the movie.  Like, say Jaspers lives, right?  Okay, so he just watched Jade fuck Mephistopheles.  Granted, he was like controlling her or maybe that one sexy henchwoman M had turned her into a super slut or something, but it’s still something that will be on BOTH of your minds as you hold hands, walk down the street on a date, and grab some ice cream like normal couples do – particularly early in a relationship when you’re all doped up on those feel good feelings.  Also, she watched you kill the fuck out of a couple cops who may actually have been innocent.  You’ve not yet proven they were working for M, Jaspers.  Look, I know it isn’t exactly either of your faults for what you were doing, but it’s gonna stick around in the back of both of your minds.

There are times in which he’s probably gonna remember this:

And then, one day, they will be picking up a quick lunch at McDonald’s, and Jade is going to have a brief memory of that time that living embodiment of lust brainwashed her into becoming a slut:

Also, all of these expressions he’s giving are pretty regrettable on both sides:

I’m sure she’ll be at a bar sometime for a girls’ night out and she’ll be reminded when she was the featured act at Hell’s strip club – which I can only assume is called “The Hot Taco”:

And, finally, that time she turned me on by impersonating a snake while Jeffrey Combs was fed a python:

My point is, ain’t nobody gonna want those memories.  Being with one another will only constantly thrust those to the surface.  I didn’t even talk about the fact that she, while under M’s influence, had sex with him while Jaspers was just watching.

In the end, this movie is a pretty big disappointment.  There are crazy things in it to be sure, but it is very hard to straddle the lines between superhero movie, horror movie, and Brian Yuzna gross-o shit.  When you aren’t fully able to commit to all or find the appropriate balance between each, it just falls short.  Not to mention, there were lots of things that felt missing.  Motivations and subtext being the main thing that felt excised for the sake of…  Well, I’m not sure what.

Watch Re-Animator, From Beyond, or Society if you want to know what Yuzna can bring to the table.  As for next week, we’re bringing Barbi Benton to the table – the hospital table.  I’m going to write about the incredibly stupid X-Ray (aka Hospital Massacre)!

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