Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Razor Blade Smile

directed by Jake West

Razor Blade Smile poster  
In 1850 a pistol duel should have ended with the death of Lilith Silver (Eileen Daly). In this flashback to the past, shown in black and white and with a minimum of dialogue, Lilith is born again as a vampire.

Fast-forward 150 years, and Lilith challenges the audience with a sultry voice-over:

"I bet you think you know all about vampires."

But for a film that boldly sets out to change our preconceptions about vampires, it preserves a lot of the time-honoured traditions of bloodsucker flicks. Traditions such as the vampire predilections for overdressing, for wearing tight black leather, and for working as an assassin.

Lilith has become every inch the typical vampire of popular fiction, a gun-toting siren full of attitude. She doesn't even attempt to conceal her nature, hanging out in vampire-themed bars and storing her collection of weapons in a coffin with a skull on the top. Lilith doesn't exactly do low-profile.

When Lilith is sent on a contract to kill a man wearing a certain ring, and to retrieve that ring, she finds that she is involved in a plot against a secret society, the Illuminati. Soon the Illuminati are on her trail. Raymond John Price is the detective assigned to investigate her case, which he does with a fervour bordering on obsession.

Razor Blade Smile was made on the kind of budget that makes shoestrings seem like a profligate luxury. This no-budget approach shows in every aspect of the production. With a few notable exceptions, the acting is very wooden, as if to drive home the point that unknown actors are sometimes little-known for a reason. Lilith's maker, Sir Sethane Blake (Chris Adamson), puts in a hopelessly over-the-top performance as he tries to come over all Villainous.

Special effects are virtually non-existent, consisting mainly of some comic fangs and a few pints of the red stuff. The fight scenes are somewhat laughable, since a lot of the characters seem to have no martial arts ability nor any real athleticism. In other genres all of this might be forgiveable, but for an all-action vampire movie it just doesn't work. The emphasis of the plot is on action, with a side-helping of supernatural horror, the sort of story that's supposed to thrill and terrify the audience. It doesn't. This isn't simply a matter of cheap effects: the atmosphere is also ruined by a lack of suitable music, uninspiring sets, and all the other details that combine to make a film captivating.

The low budget would have been redeemable if Razor Blade Smile had a strong, witty script, or more comedy. But it's funny for all the wrong reasons. It has a so-bad-it's-good watchability, with its cheesy dialogue and absurd characters. However, it doesn't take itself overly seriously. Eileen Daly is just right for the role of Lilith, and the film finishes with a decent twist that almost makes up for everything else. Almost.

Film Details

Decade: 1990s

Categories: Films


Classification: 18

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2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Jake West