Once Bitten (1985)

Like most people I know Jim Carrey from In Living Color and the movies that he did after that show made him a star.  I was always lukewarm on many of his films.  I liked Liar, Liar, but the Ace Ventura films were annoying and Cable Guy and The Mask are among some of my least favorite films.  In recent years he has turned into an anti-vax lunatic, so that turned me off even further from caring to see what movies he was in.  I think the last new movie I saw with him was Kick-Ass 2, which Carrey quickly disavowed because he suddenly had a problem with the glorification of guns and violence after reading the script and making the movie. 

I had forgotten that before In Living Color he had been in long-forgotten '80s horror comedy called Once Bitten.  Apparently, not as forgotten as I thought, because I guess a number of people had fond memories of this movie, although it had a similar plot to My Best Friend Is a Vampire.  I had not seen either prior to this and, unfortunately, I'm in the camp that largely fails to see or understand why anyone would find Once Bitten to be enjoyable in any manner. 

High school senior Mark (Carrey) is frustrated that his long-term girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins) won't put out, so he takes a trip to Hollywood with his friends Jamie (Thomas Ballatore) and Russ (Skip Lackey) to see if he can satisfy his needs.  While in a bar he meets an older lady who just wants to be referred to as Countess (Lauren Hutton).  She invites him back to her mansion for some fun.  Unfortunately, Countess happens to a vampire that needs three doses of virgin blood before Halloween in order to maintain her youth.  Robin is understandably upset, but is more concerned in the changes she sees in Mark as he starts to slowly change into a vampire.  Soon it becomes a battle between Robin and the Countess for Mark's affections, as well as to keep him human. 

There are a couple of scenes I found amusing.  One is toward the beginning when Mark has just been rejected and, stepping out of his ice cream truck that he tried to get some action in, sees every other car in the parking lot rocking.  The other is a scene in the high school shower where his best friends try to see if there is a mark on his inner thigh, resulting in some hijinks that, if this movie was anywhere near the level of Sixteen Candles, would definitely raise the hackles of current audiences.  In all other ways, though, the jokes typically fall flat, and Carrey, though this is his first big role, still pretty much does the same physical comedy he was later known for.

Lauren Hutton seems to be making the most of it while Cleavon Little, as the Countess's gay vampire butler Sebastian, is there for his paycheck.  The standout in this is actually Karen Kopins, and it's too bad that Robin's role is horribly written since Kopins seems to give it life that it wouldn't otherwise have.  Still, even in 1985 it was cringey to have a woman come to the conclusion that just because she didn't have sex with her boyfriend that she was somehow at fault for him going out to get a little on the side.  

Since this is mainly a comedy the horror side of it is largely downplayed, which means there's nothing really entertaining about the whole vampire plot either.  It's also PG-13, thus putting a damper on it at least having the usual aspects in an '80s movie about a guy trying to lose his virginity.  What Once Bitten ends up being is a weak attempt at making both a tame horror film and an even tamer sex comedy, and it fails miserably at both. 

Once Bitten (1985)
Time: 94 minutes
Starring: Lauren Hutton, Jim Carrey, Karen Kopins, Cleavon Little
Director: Howard Storm



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