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Retro Movie Review: Once Bitten (1985)

by Peter Nielsen

I have to admit that I’m a sucker for 80’s teen comedies! Once Bitten stars a young Jim Carrey as Mark, a sexually frustrated teenager, and Karen Kopins as Robin, his girlfriend. They’re in love and although she wants to have sex with him, she’s waiting for the right time. For Mark on the other hand, anytime is the right time and anyplace is the right place. It’s basically all he and his friends think about! All the time! They decide to go to Hollywood ‘cause as Mark so eloquently puts it: “That’s where all the freaks are”. In one scene there’s a lady walking a fully grown male lion as if it was a dog, for Pete’s sake. Oh, by the way… I should mention that Mark drives around in an ice cream truck, so I suppose they’d fit right in.

Anyways… the boys have a hunch that scoring a chick in this neighborhood will be a lot easier than at home. Yup, I know, boys and their filthy minds… tsk, tsk! They end up in a sleazy bar where Mark ultimately meets the beautiful Countess, played by Lauren Hutton, who’s on the prowl for young virgin blood. Yes, boys and girls… she’s a vampire. She needs to drink the blood from the same virgin three times before the stroke of midnight on Halloween night, or she will lose her eternal beauty.

Mark & Robin

Mark & Robin

Mark is an easy prey and wakes up the next day thinking they’ve had sex. This makes him feel elated and at the same time kind of bad, since he doesn’t really want to cheat on Robin. She of course finds out and never wants to see him again. After this meeting Mark starts to change ever so slightly. He starts getting paler, eats raw burgers, wears sunglasses all the time and starts wearing black clothes. Well, if those aren’t signs of vampirism, I don’t know what are… However, Robin doesn’t really want to lose him and at a Halloween costume-ball after a great, but slightly awkward dance-sequence involving Mark, Robin and the Countess, they both discover that he’s slowly turning into a vampire. She decides to help him and gets his two friends, Russ and Jamie, to aid her, which ends in a hilarious and embarrassing scene in the boys’ shower at school.

Desperate virgins on the loose.

Desperate virgins on the loose.

In order to lure Mark back to her, the Countess sends her chauffeur and butler, Sebastian, to kidnap Robin. Sebastian by the way, is brilliantly played by Cleavon Little whom you may know as Calculus Entropy in Fletch Lives or as sheriff Bart in Blazing Saddles. The boys take off after them and are caught when trying to rescue Robin and in a grand ceremony the Countess is going to drink Mark’s blood a third and final time. The answer to why she has to drink from the same virgin all three times, elude me. Why not take any old virgin instead? I mean, Mark’s friends are equally desperate and available. Why make it so tough on yourself? Well dammit, I suppose those vampire rules just aren’t made for us mere mortals to comprehend…

Countess on the prowl.

Countess on the prowl.

The three friends eventually break Mark loose and in the chase that follows, we learn that although vampires break through brick-walls and concrete floors without effort, they can easily be knocked out with one punch from a mortal girl or by an opening door?? OK, so they do recover fairly quickly, but still!

Once Bitten is a nice little comedy. It’s not the best I’ve ever seen, but it’s by NO means the worst either. It has that nice “80’s vibe” to it. A feel-good movie if you will! With a great soundtrack too! It’s also fun to see Jim Carrey in an early role. He’s not as wild or over the top as in some of his later movies. He’s more subdued, for lack of a better word, but he does of course have his moments in this one too.

Lauren Hutton (Gator, American Gigolo) is stunning as always. She portrays the Countess as being cool, calm and collected, but, I suspect, also a bit frustrated because as she herself states: “Being a vampire in the 20th century is a nightmare!” It’s not like in the old days, when, if you wanted to have a good time, you just went out into the fields and got yourself a peasant or two. I guess no-one would bat an eye-lid if those went missing, huh?

So, until next time, my friends…

Once Bitten Trailer



About Peter Nielsen

Peter was born in Denmark in 1968, but moved to Sweden at the age of six, (not by himself of course), and has lived there ever since. He’s married and has five children, so spare time is somewhat of a luxury. His main interests in life, apart from his family, are long walks, books and movies. Any movie! He has preferences, but he’s not particular as long as it's good or... so bad it's good... he just LOVES MOVIES!

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