Written & Directed By: Jake West, Starring: Eileen Daly, David Warbeck & Christopher Adamson.
"I bet you think you know all about vampires. Believe me, you know fuck all." - Lilith Silver.
Horror conventions are all the rage here in the UK, but there was a time when we Brit’s didn’t have the opportunity to meet the stars of our favourite genre, every other month.
What we did have, however, was the odd horror festival, or Splatterfest. A festival dedicated to screening those ‘hard to find’ gems, banned movies or uncut versions of films that had otherwise been hacked to bits by the BBFC.
One such festival was Eurofest. Eurofest took place in London and was the brainchild of Trevor Barley of Media Publications. Each year they would screen the very best in European gore and sleaze and fans got to meet such filmmakers as Joe D’Amato, Ruggero Deodato and Jose Larraz, to name a few.
Each year, me and a few of my like-minded friends, including Mark, who you will know from this very site, would head on down to the big smoke to have our young, innocent minds corrupted. It was a wonderful time to be a horror fan.
One such year, (I believe it was 1998), among the attended guests was a then-unknown director named Jake West. West was there to promote his debut feature film, Razor Blade Smile. Accompanying West was the film’s star, Eileen Daly, and after being wowed by the trailer, I took the opportunity to have a brief chinwag with them about what I had just seen. They were both friendly and chatty and openly excited to be promoting their film, and as I came away from the event, I knew I needed to see this movie.
I eventually got my hands on a VHS copy and sat myself down to watch. And Razor Blade Smile has held a special place in my heart ever since.
For those who don’t know, Razor Blade Smile is the story of Lilith Silver (Eileen Daly), a centuries-old vampire who, having grown bored with immortality, decides to spice up her afterlife by becoming a contract killer. She figures that she has to kill to feed anyway, so she may as well have a little fun with it.
Makes perfect sense. If you’re good at something, never do it for free.
As the bodies pile up, Lilith finds herself flying on the radar of Scotland Yard. It turns out the wealthy businessmen that Lilith has been hired to kill are in fact members of The Illuminati. The head of which just so happens to be the vampire who turned Lilith centuries before.
Razor Blade Smile may be a very low budget affair that, in all likelihood, has escaped today’s younger horror fans, but its impact can’t be overlooked. Eileen Daly poured herself into a tight-fitting catsuit to depict a sexy vampire five years before Kate Beckinsale pulled off a similar look for Underworld. I find it hard to believe that the Underworld look wasn’t, partially influenced by RBS.
Recently, we interviewed British horror actress Emma Dark and spoke a little about her film, Seize the Night in which she portrays a vampire assassin named Eva who also dresses in a tight black catsuit. When we mentioned that the look was reminiscent of Razor Blade Smile, Emma not only credited RBS as an inspiration, but seemed amused/surprised that we had referenced it.
As I mentioned earlier, Razor Blade Smile is a low-budget movie. Thankfully, director Jake West appeared to have subscribed to the Sam Raimi school of filmmaking, utilising interesting camera techniques/angles to give the movie a much grander feel. As with The Evil Dead, this technique casts the illusion that more money was thrown at the picture than is actually the case.
Eileen Daly is perfectly cast as the film’s lead. She would later go on to be the vampiric face of the British video label, Redemption. She does vampire so well that it’s almost disappointing to discover that Daly is, in real life, as mortal as the rest of us.
Razor Blade Smile is also notable for being the last on-screen appearance of horror legend, David Warbeck (The Beyond, Black Cat) who sadly died of cancer after completing this film.
I don’t know how Razor Blade Smile would hold up if screened to today’s younger horror audience, but for this old man, it remains a significant part of my 90s. It represents a time when style and originality superseded the demand for a big budget and flashy special effects.
Sure, some of the dialogue is a little corny, but that just adds to the charm.
Should you find yourself yearning for a low-budget indie film that utilises practical gore effects and features some good, old-fashioned sexy vampire action, then you could do a lot worse than Razor Blade Smile.
Consider it an education in low-cost, British horror at its best. Horror doesn’t have to be all loud noises and jump scares.