Color, 1998, 101 mins.

Directed by Jake West

Starring Eileen Daly, Christopher Adamson, Jonathan Coote, Grahame Wood, David Warbeck, Jennifer Guy, Louisa Moore / Produced by Robert Mercer / Cinematography by James Solan / Music by Richard Wells

Format: DVD - A-Pix (MSRP $24.95)

Letterboxed (1.85:1) / Dolby Digital 4.0

An amusing little time killer, Razor Blade Smile marks the big(ish) screen debut of Eileen Daly, the Redemption poster girl with a voice that would sedate Quentin Tarantino. While no classic by any means, the film is at least a few cuts above the tedious lesbian-gore chic promos for which Daly remains best known, though she displays all the acting finesse of Pamela Anderson Lee on a particularly bad day.

Lilith Silver (Daly), a leather-glad vampire hitwoman, got her fang-chomping start when she tried to save her boyfriend in a duel and wound up on the wrong end of a pistol. A vampire "saved" her by transforming her into one of the undead, and now she passes the centuries by offing humans for money. Apparently being assigned targets takes the nasty decision-making process out of planning for dinner, and she covers up her feeding rituals by firing a few bullets into her victims' throats. In her off time, she hangs out at the local goth club where vamp wannabes lecture about what they think vampires are like, much to Lilith's amusement. However, things get complicated when a nasty sect called the Illuminati (signified by their cultists' gumball machine eyeball rings) get ticked off at Lilith for bumping off a few members, and she finds herself in deep trouble. To make matters worse, one of the cultists, Officer Price, keeps arresting her and chasing her around with a stake. Lilith manages to deal with the stress by engaging in a couple of hilariously gratuitous sex scenes and baring her fangs at the camera a lot.

Most obviously, Razor Blade Smile lacks a single original bone in its body; after the opening sequence, which owes more than a tad to Roger Vadim's Blood and Roses, the plot proceeds to lift entire chunks from Blade, The Hunger, and most obviously, John Landis' Innocent Blood. This quibble aside (along with Daly's aforementioned lack of thespian skills), director West has fashioned a great looking film for next to no money. The pace is fast, the visuals lush, the soundtrack involving, and there's even a nifty (if highly illogical) surprise ending, which, now that you know, may not come as much of a surprise. Italian horror and Brit sex film regular David Warbeck pops in for one of his last appearances as "the horror film man" and explains what PCP is to our not very bright detective. The kitschy James Bond-inspired opening credits are a blast, too, not to mention the hysterically foul-mouthed end titles song.

A-Pix has done a surprisingly lavish DVD presentation for such an obscure British horror film. Aside from the (useless) video trailer and a few other A-Pix samplers (for Bleeders, etc.), the disc presents the film in what appears to be an overmatted 1.85:1 transfer. The quasi-artsy framing makes it impossible to gauge what this was supposed to look like originally, but some vital information (like a close-up of a tarot card) appears to be missing. The basic surround mix is well handled, considering, and the techno score should keep goth fans tapping their feet contentedly. While most vampire fans may not want to shell out the full retail price, Razor Blade Smile at least makes a diverting rental and proves that at least some of the people involved have some definite talent.

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