Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Wicked Weapons: The Straight Razor

Ah, my first Wicked Weapons post! Of course, this blog is gonna be filled with firsts for a long time yet, but that means everything is new and shiny!

This section is going to be a regular column I do every couple Wednesdays or so. I thought about doing it every Wednesday and realized I don’t want to feel obligated to produce content. I just want to write blogs when the mood strikes, so that way there is quality over quantity. If I happen to do lots of blogs, which is the current trend, great, but if a lull period is needed, I’m going to take it. It’s my blog. I make the rules. Here we will take a weapon used within the genre and talk about its impact within it. I like sharp implements, what can I say?

Sound fun? Then let’s begin.

 "I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. That's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor...and surviving." Apocalypse Now

I felt it only appropriate to start Weapons Wendsday with the straight razor, as my blog’s name is a play on Sweeney Todd, and if you know my real name, also a play on my own. Straight razors on their own may not bring to mind horrific imagery. After all, they were made to shave a man’s face. Of course you can use it to shave more than a face. Like for instance, Uncle Fester’s big bald head:

They aren’t seen in media very often as doing anything but what their normal function is, shaving. Straight razors it seems, don’t get much attention except in the most harmless of ways. Trust me dear reader, they are anything but harmless.

There is an intimacy of using a straight razor for killing. It’s a very personal weapon. A murderer willing to use such an implement is making a statement, boldly, messily, but also in its own way poetically. There is a sense of class about the weapon. Of a time period long ago, when women were “real ladies” and guys were “gentlemen”. The idea of drawing a blade down one’s very sensitive neck, and the slightest twitch of the wrist with an unskilled hand is a very horrific concept. Just think about that tasty jugular, vulnerable under that razor, pulsing with blood. You think a nick with an electric razor is bad? Well, there isn’t enough toilet paper to blot a wound made with a straight razor. We now have technology that makes shaving, for both genders, safer and less of a danger than it was in the time period where razors were the only method. With the 2007 release of Sweeney Todd, straight razor horror has a chance of revival in modern horror.

Sweeney Todd in its multiple adaptations is of course the most notable showcase of the straight razor as a weapon. One would even say the straight razors were their own characters. They are sung to and talked to as if they were long lost lovers. Sweeney may have in the end loved the blades more than anything else, as they were his co-conspirators in murdering his enemies. To him, they understood his need for vengeance. One of my favourite scenes that the most recent movie captures is, when he sings to the blades themselves:

Mmm...so haunting.

Sweeney Todd is probably the only series out there that features the straight razor so profoundly. From its roots as the penny dreadful The String of Pearls, to its numerous stage, screen and television adaptations. The straight razor is an under-rated device for killing in my books.  There are scenes here and there where it’s used more than just for shaving though, like in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, where Dracula licks the blood off of the razor like a fiending crack addict:

Would this scene have been nearly as evocative if he just sucked on the towel with Harker’s blood? I somehow doubt it. The licking of the razor itself is visceral, raw and sensual. It shows us the beast in Dracula before Harker ever knows what he’s up against. The scene is powerful, almost sexual, and the razor itself is an intimate weapon.

To use it for a kill, you have to be kissably close. All of Sweeney Todd’s victims are close enough to feel the breath of the barber on their skin. 

Sin City shows how the threat of the razor is entwined with closeness. When Jackie Boy goes to the bathroom, Dwight startles him by shoving a straight razor into his face:

Would this scene have had the same impact if Dwight was pointing it at him from across the room? I don’t think so. The straight razor is personal. To use it, you have to invade another person’s space.

But sadly, most scenes in film only show the straight razor doing what it was made to do, shave faces, sometimes heads. There are variations on the theme, (see Freddy Krueger’s claw, but that’s for another Wednesday) and I’d love to see more Horror that has the straight razor as a weapon. Maybe there is more out there, and if so please feel free to enlighten me in the comments. I did research to find more but I came up short. There are just not enough straight razor scenes in movies that aren’t purely hair removal. Shaving with a straight razor is awesome, but seeing someone killed is even more so, don’t you agree?

If I wasn't already married...*sighs and fans self*


  1. Someone wants a straight razor this holiday season. *chuckles*.

    Seriously though, the straight razor is the perfect weapon of fear, because it is intimacy turned to brutality. There is an opportunity there for the female slasher movie, a seductive murderer who entraps her lover, then in the morning helps them shave... one... last... time.

    *laughs* And maybe she has a thing for bald men?

  2. *bounces* I DO!!!

    That would be quite the film. I like it. Get writing the script! *cracks whip*

  3. You're absolutely right- the straight razor is definitely the weapon of someone who isn't afraid of getting their hands dirty, who wants to see the glimmer of fear in their victim's eyes, and feel the caress of that last gurgling breath on their face. Axes and machetes certainly bring the gore, and booby traps have a certain Rube Goldbergian charm (if done right)- but there's nothing quite like a straight razor for that personal touch.

    Exact same reason why I like knives, but even they can't be made to seem innocuous- a knife is always an implement for cutting, and can't be made to look less lethal than it is, but a straight razor is first-and-foremost (for non-sickos, anyway) a shaving tool, and stays that way in a person's mind... until you hold it to their throat. >:D

  4. Very interesting! Diggin the writing style too. Thanks for the awesome pitch for the straight razor :)

  5. I'm glad I could entertain. Thanks for reading guys! <3

  6. I must say that this little item frightens me. Guess the only who looks silly using it was that white bob marley guy from the Matrix 2.

    Books rock, writers are rock stars!

  7. ah the good razor, also the same weapon Bobbi used in Dressed To Kill! Nice~


  8. Thanks for the post. I had been looking for something
    related and found your web site in the process.. I will definitely be back for more.

  9. Thanks for sharing such a great information about wicked weapons. From today i didn't know that in wicked weapons straight edge razor used. Thanks for increasing my knowledge.


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