Sunday, 10 May 2015

Vampire Week Day 6: Razor Blade Smile

This is one of my favourite vampire film from one of my favourite directors, Jake West.  Razor Blade Smile, released in 1998 this English vampire film staring contemporary scream queen and cult film icon Eileen Daly as Lilith Silver, vampire assassin, seductress and part time latex fashion model.

The film begins in ye olden times when the world was still black and white and pistoles at dawn as still an accepted way to to sole a dispute.  In the shadow of a large manor house we see two men stand back to back, loaded flintlock pistols in hand preparing for such a duel, one is Sethane Blake (Christopher Adamson) who wins the duel shooting his opponent dead.  Lilith, who was watching, bursts into a fit of rage and draws her own gun shooting Blake in the chest, though this seems to shock and annoy him more than anything.  Blake's assistant shoots Lilith before the two men take her inside the house and lay her on a bed.  Blake reveals himself to be a vampire and chooses to save her by making her one as well.

Over the scene Lilith has been narrating, her last line before the opening credits is this; “I bet you think you know all about vampires. Believe me, you know fuck all.”

After a very inventive and somewhat James Bond like opening credit sequence involving flying razor blades and Lilith silhouetted against stormy sky's wielding gun's and sword's, we are transported to modern day London where Lilith is now a contact killer. We see her suit up in a latex catsuit and arm herself with knives and guns before she sneaks into a large house and find's her target in the bath, drinking his blood she then shoots him. Unfortunately part of the contract was that she was to collect his ring, but she drops it into the water and has to flee when someone sets off the alarm. After killing the guards she makes her escape.

Meanwhile in another part of London the Illuminati are meeting, the leader is Sethane Blake who is discussing the various members Lilith has been hired to kill over the past months. At the meeting is  Detective Inspector Price (Jonathan Coote), the policeman heading the investigation onto Lilith's murders, or as the authorities have dubbed her 'The Angel of Death'.   All the Illuminati wear ring with an eye design on them, same as the one Lilith lost on her last job. Blake takes out a deck of Tarot Cards tells Price that he has used more traditional methods to determine that their assassin is a vampire, Price is sceptical but is convinced to keep an open mind.

At the scene of her last assassination Price speaks with their forensic's man who is only ever refereed to as Horror Movie Man (genera legend David Warbeck in his final role), asking him if the victim had been drained of blood, the forensic's man says yes but believes it to have gone down the drain with the water, but does note that there are wounds on the next, Price realises these could easily cover bite marks.

Lilith meets with her contact, ex assassin known simply as Platinum.  He tries to stick to business but Lilith insists it can wait, they have had sex before and he says it was unprofessional and shouldn't have happened, but as Lilith says; "I know you can't resist my hypnotic charms."  One steamy sex scene latter Lilith tells him that she lost the ring, he's concerned about how the client will take it but says he'll sort it out. He gives her her next target, Detective Inspector Price.

Meanwhile Price is able to track Lilith down after finding out her last victim’s wife saw everything, identifying Lilith's picture and confirming her as a vampire. He arrests Lilith, much to her amusement especially when he accuses her of been a vampire, even flashing her fangs when only Price is looking, naturally when he attempts to stake her in the interview room his colleges stop him and the interview, then let Lilith go.

Returning home she finds a videotape with her post, it shows that Platinum has been captures by the Illuminati. Rescue attempts go south, Blake reveals himself to Lilith and on top of all she still has Price to deal with.

I love this film, warts and all, I'm not going to argue it's perfect, nor would I defend a lot of it's weaker and in some cases bad bits, this is low budget film making that embraces it, it knows it has problems and wears them like a badge of honour, it is a roller-coaster B-movie and Jake West infuses his debut feature with enough style that you can't help but go along for the ride.

There are a few scenes earlier in the film that are particular favourites of mine, Lilith hangs out in a bar with some goths, and argues with them about what a vampire can do and what they would do with their time. Maybe it's because I have and had friends who act like they are the authority on vampires or ghosts or werewolves but they were really just cherry picking their favourite aspects from different media and then talking about it like it's fact, so seeing characters like that argue so viciously not knowing the woman they are talking to actually is a vampire makes me grin every time. Speaking of which there is a cute cut away gag in one of these scene when Lilith is arguing that a vampire turning into a bat is a stupid idea and we are treated to a shot of her turning into a very cartoony bat, it always makes me chuckle.

Eileen Daly is great as Lilith Silver, playing the character as someone who doesn’t give a damn what others think and will go through life (or is that unlife) her way.  She has a great little habit of rating her victims blood, such as "F grade ruddy shit" or "Nice and salty, B plus", it's a fun little character bit that never feels over done.  I'm not sure when it was that Vampires started wearing latex, though it seems to be a growing trend looking at this film, the Underworld series and several urban fantasy book covers I've seen, maybe it started here, who knows?

I also love Christopher Adamson (who had previously appeared in Jake Wests short film Club Death) as Sethane Blake, a character you could image waking up and saying to himself “it's good to be evil”, I love the kind of villain who clearly enjoy been bad, playing up the role like the baddie in a kids game of cops and robbers.  He also has my favourite line in the film, after revealing to one of his men that he is a vampire he offers the man the chance to become one as well, to which the man puts his gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger, Blake replies by saying, the the most nonchalant way; “Well I think he turned down a good deal.”

This film won't be for everyone but I urge you, if you check it out stick with it until the end, even if you find the plot goofy and action bad just stick with it, trust me, the ending it worth it.  But if you are like me and roler-coaster low budget movies are your bread and butter than this film will be right up your street, great fun with enough blood and boobs to keep any B-movie fan happy!

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