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A-Pix Entertainment presents
Razor Blade Smile (1998)

"As a vampire, time is one commodity I've got in abundance. Boredom is my worst enemy. So, to stop things from dragging, I've had to learn how to amuse myself."
- Lilith Silver (Eileen Daly)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: August 22, 2000

Stars: Eileen Daly, Christopher Adamson
Other Stars: Jonathan Coote, Kevin Howarth
Director: Jake West

MPAA Rating: R for horror violence and gore, sexuality, language and some drug content.
Run Time: 01h:42m:12s
Release Date: August 21, 1999
UPC: 783722700532
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- BB+B- C-

DVD Review

Vampires have been trendy for a while now, so when I saw Razor Blade Smile come onto my review list, I was a bit apprehensive. What is there left to say on the subject that hasn't been said a hundred times before?

Well, in the case of this film, there's a fair amount new. Director/writer Jake West gives us a case of a modern vampire, who for amusement does what vampires do best: killing. Lilith Silver (Eileen Daly, best known as the Elvira-wannabe hostess from Redemption Video) is a 150-year old vampire who, in between hanging out at a goth bar and messing with the minds of the vampire fans, is also a contract assassin.

Lilith is hired for a series of assassinations of members of a vast conspiracy which includes members of the police. Before long, however, she learns that the conspiracy is led by none other than Sir Sethane Blake, the vampire who made her an undead all those years ago. At the same time, her human lover, a fixer named Platinum (Kevin Howarth) falls into the clutches of the conspiracy. Soon Lilith must face her competing loyalties and deal with Blake once and for all.

West's screenplay cleverly avoids cliche and sets its own rules for vampiric activity. The stakes, the garlic, the cross and the sun are all useless against them. Much of this is conveyed by a first-person narration by Lilith. The voice of the film is the one drawback; although much of it is ostensibly from Lilith's point-of-view, a great deal happens onscreen which is not within her knowledge. This confusion of point of view is sometimes distracting.

Daly isn't entirely a happy choice for the lead role; although she can convey the erotic and animalistic side of Lilith quite well, she doesn't really have the charisma to carry the film by herself and sometimes seems wooden. Sethane Blake is rather a cipher in this film, but Adamson has the fiery glare to carry off the role even with a minimum to do. Jonathan Coote as Detective Inspector Price, who is foiled by Lilith at every turn, gives the best-rounded performance. One of the most enthusiatic performances is turned in by one of Lilith's hangers-on, with whom she ends up in a deadly lesbian tryst.

West has a tendency to overuse fisheye lenses and time-lapse photography in this film; while some of that is fine to set a mood of unreality, eventually it just becomes irritating. There are several extremely weird and effective CGI feverdreams, and the MTV-style rapid-fire editing also works quite well. There are a number of continuity problems (one moment, Lilith is shot bleeding profusely on her leather jacket; the next moment, it's clean) but considering the low-budget origins of this film they're not too terrible.

The film presented is the US version, which was recut to move from an NC-17 to an R rating; however, there is ample sexuality and gore here. Eileen Daly spends much of the film nude or mostly nude, and the rest of the time is in a black leather catsuit that Emma Peel would kill for. Oh, and stay through the credits; there is an amusing post-credit tag that's definitely good for a laugh.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The non-anamorphic picture is actually quite good. The blacks range from excellent to a rather purplish color. Red is obviously a dominant feature of the film and is quite rich but never oversaturated. No artifacts are visible, but the picture is a little on the soft side. Other than a couple bits of dirt and crud, the image is undamaged.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The only soundtrack is a DD 2.0 stereo track. At times (particularly when Sethane Blake is speaking) the dialogue becomes distorted and a little crackly. By and large, the sound is adequate if undistinguished. There are a number of special effects which would have been much better served by a 5.1 remix, such as whooshing sounds that are clearly meant to convey motion, but which are just stationary on this audio track. There is very little directionality to speak of. The music comes through quite well, however.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 26 cues
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bleeders, Jack Frost, Killer Tongue, Uncle Sam
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. weblink to www.horrormovies.com
  2. Article on the film from Femme Fatales magazine
  3. Stills Gallery
Extras Review: Although A-Pix has a "Special Edition" banner across the top of the keepcase, there's nothing here to justify that categorization. We get five fullscreen trailers; one for this film and one each for four other films that look incredibly bad (Killer Tongue?!?).

The one extra that is a little special is a reprinting of Dan Scapperotti's article from the May 1999 issue of Femme Fatales magazine, regarding Daly and the film. This article is interesting but ultimately tends to be synopsis-heavy. Also included is a gallery of 22 windowboxed stills in color and black/white. They're taken from throughout the film, but don't really add much; I would have preferred seeing some promotional materials instead.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

A stylish and humorous modern take on vampirism, with some interesting twists. Worth a rent if you like erotic horror. Just don't expect a real special edition.

 


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