A vampire Countess needs to drink the blood of a virgin in order to keep her eternal beauty. It seems that all is hopeless, until she bumps into Mark Kendall.
When I think of 1980s vampire movies, three movies that immediately come to mind are The Lost Boys, Near Dark, and Vampire’s Kiss. Each of those three movies have managed to stay in the minds of fanboys for many reasons. They are movies that are still watched and loved today. There are other, lesser remembered vampire movies from the 1980s however. One such movie is 1985’s Once Bitten.
Once Bitten is about a teenage virgin named Mark Kendall (Jim Carrey) who just wants to have sex for the first time. His girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins) won’t have sex with him, so his friends Jamie (Thomas Ballatore) and Russ (Skip Lackey) take him to Hollywood to find a woman who will. It is in a Hollywood phone dating place where Mark meets Countess (Lauren Hutton), a woman who happens to be a vampire seeking out a virgin’s blood. With her assistant Sebastian (Cleavon Little), she pursues Mark in order to drink his blood thrice, turn him into a vampire, and retain her youth.
The most notable thing about Once Bitten is that it is the first starring role for Jim Carrey. It doesn’t have quite the same laugh out loud comedy as his later, more popular movies. That doesn’t mean it is short of moments in which he shines. There are little beats throughout the movie that showcase his talent and show the promise of what he would become in the future. Specifically, there is a dance scene about two thirds of the way through that shows of some of the physical abilities that Carrey has. Finally, his ability to change facial expressions in a split second hinted toward how capable he is when it comes to putting on different faces. They don’t call him Rubber Face for nothing.
Other comedic beats throughout the movie don’t really hold up as much. A lot of Once Bitten falls flat in that regard. One specific joke that gets repeated over and over again is a pick-up line used by one of Mark’s friends. He says the line at least three times throughout the movie. It’s supposed to be awkwardly funny but only ends up being cringe-worthy. There are some interesting sight gags throughout the movie, even if the characters themselves make a lot of the comedy lackluster. I didn’t hate any of it aside from the pick-up line. It just could have been much more than a flat, simple smile worth of a joke. That’s as well as I can say it and it still doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Sexuality is a large part of Once Bitten. As I’ve already written, the movie is about a teenager trying to lose his virginity while a vampire tries to drink his virgin blood. His friends spend the movie trying to seduce women in different places. The Countess tries to seduce Mark in many places.
The dance scene gets very sexual, as it involves stripping. The story of Mark begins and ends with sex. Once Bitten never strays from the sexual course that it sets early on. I mean, the scene in which we are introduced to Mark is a scene in which he tries to get lucky with Robin in an ice cream truck. When she denies him, he gets out of the truck and every other vehicle in the parking lot is moving with the rhythm of people humping. We are introduced to him as the man surrounded by sex but not getting any. The movie never gets any less sexual.
I’m glad I took the time to watch Once Bitten. It’s a great look at the cheesier side of the 80s, sexuality, and how vampirism can fit into all of that. Though not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, there are still moments of greatness within it. Can you find those on YouTube and skip the movie as a whole? Probably. But why would you do a thing like that? Grab a bowl of popcorn. Grab a beer, if you are the legal age, of course. Pop this movie onto the television. Have a good time. Though not great, it’s still entertaining enough that it’ll be fun to sit through.