Faust: Love of the Damned (2000)

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Released 5-Dec-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Production Notes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 96:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Brian Yuzna
Studio
Distributor

Imagine Entertainment
Starring Mark Frost
Isabel Brook
Jeffrey Combs
Andrew Divoff
Monica Van Campen
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Xavier Capellas


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

"Sometimes you have to become evil to fight evil"

    There is an old saying that goes "Revenge is a dish that is best served cold". This is all well and good...if you indeed have the power to serve up such a dish. But what if you are without the power to confront the ones who have wronged you? What if you were in no position to bring retribution to those who had made your life a living hell? To whom would you turn to, and what price would you pay for the chance to even the score? John Jasper is in just such a position, and powerless to confront those who have destroyed his life, he stands at the brink of madness.

    Police detective Lieutenant Dan Margolies (Jeffrey Combs, Re-Animator, TVs Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Voyager and Enterprise) has come upon a grisly scene. There has been an attack on a function at a foreign embassy and dozens lie dead. Investigating the crime scene, Margolies sees just two people alive; a mysterious woman that he only catches a fleeting glimpse of, and a raving madman covered in blood and with razor sharp blades strapped to both his arms. Despite the fact that this seemingly mad individual is quite capable of killing Margolies just as he has killed the entire population of the embassy, he stops short of delivering the same fate to Detective Margolies and instead falls in a heap, muttering to himself incomprehensibly. Once apprehended, the suspect is taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. Secured in a straightjacket and confined to a padded cell, he is visited by experimental therapist Jade de Camp (Isabel Brook, Razor Blade Smile, About a Boy) who has treated traumatized individuals through music therapy. At first, she is not very successful and the music she plays only seems to bring incomprehensible actions and drawings from the subject. But when the patient gestures to a CD of Death Metal and de Camp plays it, a spell is broken and a sobbing madman proclaims that he remembers everything.

    John Jasper started off quite sane. He lived in his apartment with his lover and spent his time in artistic pursuits as a painter. But his lover had a secret in her past and there were those who believed that she owed them a debt too high for money to repay. By the time Jasper had come to, he was battered and bloodied and his girlfriend was dead. Unable to contain the grief that wracked his very soul, he sought out a very high bridge with the intention of jumping from it. But he was not alone on the bridge, and the one who called to him offered the power of retribution on those who had taken his life and sanity. This man, called M (Andrew Divoff, Wishmaster 1 & 2, Air Force One), promised to give Jasper the ultimate power of life and death on tap perpetually; to dispense as he chooses. There's just one small catch (there always is) - in signing the contract to grant these fantastic powers, Jasper must forever forfeit his immortal soul to M. Seeing that he lives in a sort of hell anyway, Jasper signs the paper with his blood and ceases to be John Jasper...he is now Faust.

    Faust wastes no time and goes straight to the source of his torment, the gang that had killed his girl. Their deaths are swift and bloody, and this deed done, he returns to M who proclaims that there is much more killing to be done. Since Jasper / Faust has completed his revenge, he doesn't relish the tasks that M has given him, but a contract was signed and Jasper / Faust begins to understand just what he has gotten himself into. But Faust isn't about to give in without a fight, and he turns on the very person who granted him the powers in the first place. M isn't about to give up Faust so quickly, and now begins the battle between good and evil, or perhaps between evil and evil, and as the battle rages, Jasper / Faust learns that he is but a pawn in a diabolical plan to bring the Devil himself to life, and to bring hell to Earth.

    This film doesn't quite work. Mind you, I had high hopes that it would. Despite the fact that this story had been done quite recently in the forms of the The Crow and Spawn, I've always had time for the 'pact with the Devil / evil against evil' type of tale. There is always lots that can be written into this type of story to make it interesting and surprisingly fresh. Disappointingly, this film doesn't have anything particularly fresh, and several things contribute to this. In an interview with the director of the film, Brian Yuzna, he states that he wasn't trying to make a 'funny' film, yet anyone can see that he failed on that count. Whilst this type of story needs some measure of humour, we find ourselves laughing out loud when we probably shouldn't be. Things like some of the obvious dubbing of several of the actors to cover their thick Spanish accents, like that fact that almost all of the extras look like they should be named Eduardo, the fact that actor Mark Frost obviously didn't heed his director's instructions and has effectively thrown the switch to Vaudeville, the fact that Mark is English and you can tell every few lines or so. In fact, most of the performances here are fairly lacklustre with few of the main performers doing justice to their roles. Probably the two main exceptions would be the performances of Jeffrey Combs and Andrew Divoff. Jeffrey has been at this for so many years that this would be no stretch acting-wise, and Andrew is very well cast as the suave and creepy M. All the rest are...I was about to say forgettable, but this would be incorrect as they are fairly memorable, just for the wrong reasons.

    This film was produced by the Fantastic Factory production company that was set up by this film's director, Brian Yuzna, to produce English language film in Spain. There is nothing wrong about producing a film in one location even though it is set in another. The Matrix is set in the U.S. but was filmed in Australia and to my mind the locations and actors weren't so much out of place as to make me believe otherwise. The problem I had with this is that the Barcelona location and local actors show when they shouldn't. The producers of this film would have been better off either filming the movie in an English speaking country or actually setting the film in Spain. Either way, the result might have been a bit better (a very little bit) than what we actually got. This film reminded me of the film The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price, which was set in the U.S. but filmed in Italy. The locations gave the whole game up and distracted me every time I saw something that I knew was of Italian origin. This film does pretty much the same thing.

    I really did want to like this film, and I'm sure I'll be torn to ribbons from fans that will say that my proclamations are blasphemy. Too bad. You can't use the perpetual excuse of 'It's campy good fun' to explain away bad cinema. The overused ruse of 'camp' just won't wash any more and we come to a time where we have to call a spade a spade. Forget the graphic novel (comic book) origins, as this is no excuse either. Many good films have had their start as graphic novels (Ghost World, The Road to Perdition) so we could have expected the same here. Budget constraints could have been a problem, but The Crow was made for $US15,000,000 and it was filmed in the United States. This film didn't need the excessive budget to make it work, just better direction and better performances. Sadly, it comes down to this: this is a bad film with many different elements adding to its 'badness'. If you are going into this film having never seen it before and are determined to see it, just bear in mind that it belongs in the 'straight to video' category. Perhaps this could be its only saving grace...but I don't think so.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer here is adequate.

    This film is presented here in 1.78:1, which is near to what is probably its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (although I was unable to confirm this) with the appropriate 16x9 enhancement.

    We get a reasonable level of sharpness of image here, though it does suffer from some predictable flaws. Overall, though, the image is fairly clear and issues such as focus are not a problem here. Shadow detail could have been a bit better than what we do get, but this could be as a result of the limitations of the film stock used. An example of some ordinary shadow detail can be seen at 13:11, though this is by no means an isolated case. For a film that takes place for the most part in darkness, this could have been better. Low level noise did seem to pop its head up from time to time, but the sometimes excessive grain was probably more distracting.

    Colour's use in this picture is, for the most part, fairly natural, which I found surprising. I had expected much more exaggeration than what we do finally get. At times, I thought it was somewhat muted, but then I was probably expecting exaggeration. Colour's committal to this disc is fairly good and I didn't have any problems with the colour because of the DVD.

    The job of compression here is reasonably good with no real huge issues with MPEG artefacts or macroblocking. The video bitrate ranges from a high of 9.2 Mbps to a low of 2.8 Mbps, settling for an average of about 5.5 Mbps. I found this to be a highly reactive compression job that did a competent job overall. The downside of all this is an at-times pronounced pixelization (quite fine) that can be seen occasionally. This seems to stand out when the compression program is probably having a hard time determining whether something is primary foreground or secondary background information and loses the plot altogether. 28:20 is an example of this, where a rush of blur coupled with film stock grain leads to an ordinary visible image. The shimmer of aliasing is visible from time to time, but not to a huge extent. Even though edge enhancement has signed a pact with the Devil to roam the video world forever, I really didn't find it to be a large problem here. You can tell that you are watching a disc committed from film as we do get the frequent black speck dotting the screen throughout the film. As stated before, grain is a bit of an issue with this one, and I found it to be excessive at times, especially during some of the night scenes where detail should have been more defined.

    Want subtitles? Too bad. We get no subtitle stream of any description.

    This disc is formatted dual layered with the change fairly late in the piece at 78:18, between Chapters 13 and 14. I would have picked it to be earlier, around the 40 minute mark or so, but taking into account the supplementary material, what we get is probably half way. The layer change is reasonably well placed and I didn't find it distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer here is reasonably good and serves the film well.

    There is only one audio track available on this disc, that being a English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

    For a film that is for much of its length a dub, the dialogue quality is clear and understandable. Whilst I never had any problems understanding the spoken word during this film, the dub factor was quite obvious throughout with standout examples to be seen (heard) at 10:14 and 20:49. This obvious dubbing was to hide the pronounced Spanish accents of some of the supporting actors. I also found the audio sync reasonable considering the amount of dubbing used. The dubbed actors did speak their lines in English, so there isn't a huge problem with mismatched lip movements, but it is just that little bit out, and that makes it obvious, and distracting.

    Music for this film comes from both a traditional score as well as some modern rock bands. Heading up the traditional score is composer Xavier Capellas who has a small list of credits to his name. Most of these are Spanish films, with only this film and Beyond Re-Animator in his English language filmography. He did, however, work as an orchestrator on the Nicole Kidman thriller The Others which was filmed in Spain. The musical score here is fairly basic and keyboard-heavy and far from the full flight orchestra that this film could have used, as it really needed all the help it could get. Modern music in the form of heavy modern rock comes from bands such as Fear Factory, Junky XL, Machine Head and others. These fairly extreme songs work quite well for the subject matter and suit the material well.

     As we get a proper 5.1 audio mix here, we should reasonably expect to have some activity in the rear channels, and in the case of this movie we do. The Dolby Digital mix afforded this film and committed to this disc is quite good with quite a bit of atmospheric audio adding to the effective use of some more overt surround sounds. Examples of this are the sound of thunder at 22:22 and the sound of the train at 55:21.
 
    The LFE channel is used to good effect and reinforces the front channels in both the music and on-screen happenings departments. 21:05 is a good example of what we get, but I found the LFE track quite complementary.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    We get a small package of extras here, but nothing too special or out of the ordinary.

Menu

    After the usual copyright warnings and distributor's logos, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     The Main Menu is animated with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0. All the menus are 16x9 enhanced.

    Selecting the Explore Extras icon takes you to that menu offering up:

Behind the Scenes - Featurette   -   4:24

    This a fairly short piece that shows some behind the scenes footage with accompanying footage from the finished film. Without narration, it is a quite effective look at the production and could have gone on for a bit longer without becoming boring. This short featurette is presented in 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Interviews   -   5:42

    Here we hear from the principal cast and crew of this production. First up is Director Brian Yuzna explaining what he expected the film to become. Following this we have make-up and special effects man Screaming Mad George on how he got involved in film and how he came to this project. Next up is English actor Mark Frost who is in the process of being made up whilst he is being interviewed. Surprising are his quite calm and measured answers that suggest that there might be more appropriate vehicles to showcase this actor's talents. Winding up proceedings is actor Isabel Brook who describes her role as therapist Jade de Camp. As is the case with the behind the scenes featurette, so it is with this feature which offers up a fairly brief look at those involved in the production. This is presented in 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Photo Gallery  10 images

    This is a collection of images from the film as well as some behind the scenes shots. The images are centred mid screen and take up about 50% of the available screen space. Okay for a look, but nothing overly interesting.

Production Notes

    These notes offer some background information on the actors and crew connected with the film.

Theatrical Trailer   -   1:56

    This trailer hits all the right buttons to make one think that we might have a film of interest here. Proof positive that trailers are intended to do one thing: put bums on seats in theatres. This is a good trailer that creates interest in the film. It's too bad that in the end, the film isn't all that good. This trailer is presented in 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film has received a DVD release in Region 1 in August, 2001. The package offered our American cousins is a fair bit different than that which we have here.

    The Region 4 disc of this film misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc of this film misses out on:     If there is one thing that I really hate, it is missing out on commentaries. Even if it's for a film that I don't like, at least I end up getting something out of the whole viewing experience by learning from the filmmakers what they had in mind. In the case of this disc, we in Region 4 miss out on 2 commentaries. The first is from Director Brian Yuzna and covers the genesis and making of the film. The second features actor Andrew Divoff and Special Effects creator Screaming Mad George as well as Cinematographer Jacques Haitkin. There is no way that the brief featurettes that are available to us in Region 4 (as well as Region 2 which has a package quite similar to ours) can compensate for the missing commentary tracks. With these missing from our disc, I could not possibly recommend this disc over that afforded our friends in Region 1. If you are a fan of this film, Region 1 is the only way to go.

Summary

     This film could have been so much better. Even though it covers material that has been dealt with on the big screen in recent years, there is enough in this story to have made it interesting and perhaps even fresh. In the end, this is far from fresh and in fact exudes a most malodorous air. If you are prepared to accept this as a campy bit of 'straight to video' time-wasting cinema (term used very loosely) then you might not be so disappointed. Unfortunately, I had higher hopes for this film, and these hopes were far from realized. Watch this one at your own risk. You have been warned.

     The video transfer is workable, but does suffer from some grain and pixelization and lacks shadow detail at times.

     The audio is fairly good with a competent 5.1 mix used to good effect. The downside is the obvious dubbing of several of the actors to hide their pronounced Spanish accents.

     The extras are mildly interesting, but we miss out on 2 important commentaries that are included on the Region 1 disc. Most annoying.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts, VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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