Once Bitten (1985)

once bitten

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: She needs virgin blood.

A sexy vampire Countess (Lauren Hutton) who lives in a sprawling Beverly Hills mansion along with her male servant (Cleavon Little) needs a regular dose of blood to keep up her youthful looks. The problem is that the blood must come from a virgin and since this is the ‘80s, where every teenager is fooling around, it becomes harder for her to come upon someone who still hasn’t had any sex. Fortunately for her she meets Mark (Jim Carrey) who has yet to lose his virginity and this is mainly because of the reluctance of his current girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins). The Countess immediately takes Mark back to her place and gets it on with him and is able to get her much needed blood supply, but in the process she also turns Mark into a vampire and his friends and family begin to notice the changes.

The idea of mixing the vampire genre with an ‘80’s teen sex comedy was a bad one and should’ve been nixed at the concept stage and like with its main character never allowed to see the light of day. For one thing it’s much too tame and sterile. No scares or raunchiness and although there are a few mildly amusing bits there isn’t enough of them in a poorly paced film that quickly becomes quite boring. It also relies too heavily on broad stereotypes and caricatures with no footing in reality at all and a script littered with what today’s audiences will consider homophobic dialogue.

The vampire angle is poorly thought out. A person’s blood type doesn’t change once they’ve had sex making the ‘virgin blood’ idea quite stupid. Besides if she really wants to make sure to get someone who hasn’t had sex then why not just bite the necks of children? Granted it would be a very un-p.c. plot, but it also would allow for a creepier angle and besides it would then turn the kids into little vampires, which would bring in an extra edge to the story. The film also fails to explain what happens with the Carrey character as we see him slowly turning into a vampire a little bit each day, but not with what ultimately transpires once he fully does.

On the acting side I thought the two leads did quite well. Hutton is gorgeous and the idea of pairing a much older woman with a younger man is actually quite sexy. Carrey is also good. In some of his movies he overacts and becomes like a modern-day Jerry Lewis, but here he is more restrained and even genuinely engaging. My only complaint is that he is clearly past his teen years and at one point even states that he is going to college, but the scenes of him at school make it seem much more like he is still in high school.

If you are into vampire movies I’d say you could skip this one as it adds nothing new to the theme and for the most part treats the vampire idea in a very transparent way. As a teen sex comedy it also fails with a script that meanders too much including having an extended scene showing Carrey’s two nerdy high school buddies (Thomas Ballatore, Skip Lackey) trying to hit on two women at a laundromat that has nothing at all to do with the main plot and should’ve been cut. However, if your fans of Hutton or Carrey then it might be worth a look as they both give surprisingly solid performances despite the weak material.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: November 15, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Howard Storm

Studio: The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

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