When you play a vampire movie from the eighties, you never know what you’re going to get. What you do know is that the movie is going to be entertaining. Once Bitten is a highly underrated and fun vampire comedy starring young Jim Carrey. Right away it tells you it’s not going to take itself too seriously. In fact, the number of jokes fired at us during the opening thirty minutes can make you think this is actually a parody. However, as time goes on, the movie slowly but surely reverts to a classic eighties teen formula. A bit of sex jokes, a bit of awkward situations, and silly chases and wouldn’t you know it, the finale is already here.
Once Bitten is a movie about a horny teenager Mark who also happens to be a virgin. And that’s exactly the type of guy the evil, hot, and seductive Countess needs for her ritual. Will Mark become just another victim of hers or will he escape from her sexy clutches? So, take the basic structure of any eighties high school movie about horny teens and slap on it a hot vampiress and you got yourself this movie. I just loved the opening scene featuring a black man enjoying his huge mansion. I thought finally, a black vampire that’s not Blacula. Sadly, he turned out to be a familiar to our Countess.
Although when she appeared wearing your standard-issue eighties exercise clothes I forgot all about poor Sebastian. And when that bitchin’ eighties soundtrack kicked in complete with the theme song Once Bitten I was totally mesmerized. Not to mention all the stylish clothes and haircuts. To quote our poor Mark: “This is not a costume!”. Of course, one of the main reasons why you should check out this movie is to see young Jim Carrey. You can tell that this man is going to achieve something great. And just a couple of years later, Carrey was probably the most popular comedic actor in the world. When I saw him driving that ice-cream truck I immediately thought of Dumb and Dumber.
Beautiful Karen Kopins was also great along with Lauren Hutton who plays the countess. However, Cleavon Little stole the show here as Sebastian, her familiar. It seems that everybody had a lot of fun on the set and that good mood spilled over into the movie. This year seems to be a key one when it comes to these teen comedies with a cheesy horror twist. Both Fright Night and Teen Wolf were released in 1985. It’s funny to think that the studios thought Michael J. Fox didn’t have it in him to make it big. Not only did he star in the Teen Wolf but also in megahit Back To The Future that same year.
Although Once Bitten is a good movie, I have to tell you that it’s really lighthearted and naive. It feels like its target audience is teens and that’s it. This perhaps explains why there’s no graphic violence or nudity. Additionally, toward the end, we will get a completely silly but charming dance off. It features Mark’s girlfriend and the countess fighting over him using special dance moves. I swear this could only happen in the eighties. Along with a club where each table has a telephone so you can call the ones where someone who you like is sitting. Was this even a real thing? It feels like it is.
Overall, the writing and direction aren’t the best, especially during the last twenty minutes. But at least the atmosphere has that feel-good vibe and we’ve got Jim Carrey doing his thing. And sometimes that’s all you need from a movie.
Director: Howard Storm
Writers: Dimitri Villard, David Hines, Jeffrey Hause
Cast: Lauren Hutton, Jim Carrey, Karen Kopins, Cleavon Little, Thomas Ballatore, Skip Lackey
Fun Facts: The countess was initially set to be played by none other than Cassandra Peterson, also known as Elvira.