A Gothic Cut of Quality


Razor Blade Smile (Manga Video)

"I bet you think you know all about vampires. Believe me you know fuck all!" purrs the divinely named Lilith Silver in perversely sophisticated English tones at the start of this wonderfully funny, outrageously stagy, British horror flick. Brilliantly portrayed by Eileen Daly, like Diamanda Galas possessed by the mischievous spirit of Fenella Fielding, she vamps and camps her character's bloody way through this low-budget masterpiece, sweeping along like Marilyn Manson in shades auditioning for the lead in The Matrix. This is a B movie which celebrates B movies, but which manages to transcend, and yet elevate, the genre. 

Shot largely on donated stock, in just over three brief weeks, Jake West's late '90s labor of love shows how class has little to do with unlimited resources. Miss Daly's sublime curves are marvelously constrained via flawlessly tailored fetish wear, again loaned for the occasion, whilst the well-chosen locations, plus imaginative camera work, make the perfect foil to seduce the eyes of the audience.

Her sardonic voice-over echoes the device used from Sunset Boulevard to Desperate Housewives, except Miss Silver isn't merely dead, she's one of the undead, and is tenaciously determined to stay that way. This is a seriously funny film. With its wry sensibility, it never veers into parody, but merely kisses the borders of self-ridicule with perfectly painted lips. When she informs the audience that it simply isn't true that vampires cast no reflection in mirrors, otherwise she'd look awful, you know you are in the presence of a droll doll.

Daly hisses like a decadently bronchial feline, baring her perfect fangs with tremendous aplomb throughout West's loving homage to Hammer, Gothdom, and Old Hollywood. Amazingly seductive, she waltzes through doors, breezes down underground passages, and paints her presence in otherwise non-descript streets, like some brazen deviant diva. She has poise, sex appeal, and glamour, and wears them all so terribly well.

Lilith Silver is not only a vampire, she's a hired killer with a coffin full of guns. She can mix business with personal necessity, by getting her teeth satisfyingly sunk into her work, before blowing bullet holes into her bite marks in order to eclipse her bloody tracks. As she successfully feasts on another sorry sap whose juice isn't up her usual standards, she airily moans, "It's a pisser when you can't send the food back to the kitchen."

The best place for a vampire in need of protective, daily darkness in modern London is a Goth club. Everyone who frequents Transilvania is living out their own particular scrap of old horror celluloid; they're all too self-obsessed to notice that this particular lady is the real fang. Hooked up to the internet, she's very modern-day. Her seemingly flawless modus operandus comes somewhat bloodily unstuck as her crimes are pursued by a tenacious police officer, perfectly realized by Jonathan Coote, who brings an air of studied disbelief to her gory aftermaths.

Nothing about this film is low key. Everyone acts like they've popped the drama pills. The whole affair manages to sustain a poised and theatrical sense of the ridiculous, without devaluing the sublime nature of the enterprise. A wonderfully granite-faced Christopher Adamson brings home an amazing performance, part Bela Lugosi, part Boris Karloff, as Lilith's lover and apparent nemesis.

A true one-off, this film (available on DVD) richly deserves its slow growing cult status. Witty, pithy and at times totally decadent, it is well worth the effort. It isn't just a tits and fangs affair, though such attributes feature with alarming regularity. Razor Blade Smile quite simply is a cut above that runs deeper than most. Bloody marvelous.