Razorblade Smile

Razorblade Smile

British horror films since the eighties have had a pretty rough time of things, following the golden age of Hammer, Amicus, Tigon et al the interest in British horror has somewhat waned. A great shame too as even though the funding needed to try continue this great tradition just hasn't been there a number of die hard enthusiasts have struggled on to bring their vision to our screens. Writer/director Jake West is one of those few and with 'Razorblade Smile' he brings his own unique take on the gothic vampire to the genre scene.

The film opens back in 1850 where one Lilith Silver (played by Salvation's living mast head Eileen Daly) is in the way of one of those good old fashioned traditional pistol duels. Caught in the line of fire a somewhat guilt ridden Sir Blake uses his own vampiric strengths to revive Lilith by making her one of his own!

The scene is set and we cut to nowadays where Liltith has now submerged herself in the modern Goth rock scene and the unintentionally amusing trappings that come with it. As her little wannabe vampire friends argue with her about what exactly the real vampire would be like, they don't realise that firstly they are in the company of such a creature but also that to maintain her comfortable lifestyle Liltith operates as one of the most brutal and successful hired assassins (known as the 'Angel of Death') out there! It is this line of work that we then get to sample next as we follow Lilith on one of her lucrative missions where in calm collected style she dispatches both her target and his lackies in her own special blood soaked style.

Of course, going around creating all this bloody carnage isn't going to go unnoticed and very soon not only are the police (including our very own beloved late great David Warbeck) but also an ominous corrupt cult that can be identified by their unique ring (masonic lodge anyone?). As Lilith carries on satisfying her need for blood and disposing of her expenses paid targets the net grows tighter and inevitably Lilith must get ready to fight for her very existence!

'Razorblade Smile' is one of those films that has been often maligned by genre fans (ridiculously at times by those that haven't even viewed the film) and unjustly so. 'Razorblade Smile' is in fact a very entertaining and vastly underated slice of modern horror fun. But the thing that makes this such a delight is clear cut to one major factor and that is Jake West. You see, right from th outset it is the both West's highly entertaining, refreshingly original and at times very amusing script along with his capability of creating delicious visual eye candy that carries your interest from beginning to end.

Of course, there are some other elements that will peak the interest of the genre fan - one of course being the appearance of the late great David Warbeck (as 'the horror man') and a welcome appearance it is too, though in reality it is more a cameo than anything else still welcome nonetheless. The other alluring factor for many folk will without doubt be the casting of Eileen Daly in the lead role of Lilith. Having garnered a reasonable following as one of Salvation label's key marketing images Daly is indeed as ever glorious eye candy here. But regrettably looking stunning is perhaps not enough when acting in a movie and to be honest such lengthy screen time exposure may be great masturbatory fodder for young goth kids, it doesn't qualify someone for their actors union card?

But as I say, the real runaway grabber for 'Razorblade Smile' is the fact that the film itself is a lot of fun and if Jake West can keep up such a high standard of quality script and direction then fans of the British horror scene can only be very grateful.

'Razorblade Smile's reappearance on DVD is obviously a sign that producers Manga and Palm Pictures believe West's work deserves your attention and I'd have to agree. This new release of the film is looks great, the print is sharp, colourful and clean but then you would expect that from such a recent production - the only downpoint though is that sadly it hasn't been enhanced anarmorphically which is a shame (though it looks fine when you force enhancement via TV screen options). The audio though this time round is offered with either optional 2.0 stereo or a tasty enhanced 5.1 surround, again both are perfectly audible but with some low vocal moments you may want to crank up the volume for both clarity and thumping soundtrack effect!

The extra features are very much bare bones but what you do get is decent enough and at the end of the day better than nothing whatsoever. Viewers of the Sci-Fi TV channel will be familiar with the seven minute interview segment where West, Daly and fellow cast member Chris Adamson have fun reminiscing about the films production and consequent festival circuit success. The other extra feature being the as standard film trailer that amusingly plays like some sort of vampiric variation of James Bond!

If you're a fellow supporter of the UK genre scene (and already have your copy of Alex Chandon's delicious 'Cradle of Fear' in your collection) then there's no reason why you shouldn't be adding this one to your viewing list also. Of course with budgetary constraints and the odd performance aside you'll need to be somewhat forgiving (well that's part and parcel of the British genre scene these days) but look past this and you'll find great pleasure purely from Jake West's work. By no means a special edition, this latest DVD incarnation is a solid enough presentation of a fun horror film. Check it out!

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by Manga Live/Palm Pictures
Region - 2
Rated - 18
Ratio - widescreen
Extras :
Theatrical trailer, Cast/crew interviews