Macabre Month Part III – Once Bitten (1985)

Teen romantic comedies have certainly become a genre in their own right, the shared awkwardness of our teenage years have managed to spew forth recognisable stories that audiences can relate to, whatever generation happens to watch. When you combine this with fang-toothed vampires, you’ve got a winning combination of love, lust, and blood-lust, as in the mid-eighties the public found with the release of vampire rom-com Once Bitten.

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While some outfits could be argued as being stylish…

When a 400-year old unnamed countess needs the blood of a virgin in order to remain youthful for the next century. The list of candidates in the decadent 80s are slim at best, enter the young Mark Kendall, who is desperate to lose his, yet his ex-girlfriend is more hesitant. He ends up in a singles bar and after some flirtation into bed with The Countess. Now he has one heck of a venereal disease as he has special powers partially and the proposed bragging rights, but at what cost?

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…others maybe not so much.

Mark’s vampire transformation, at least his partial transformation, is an avenue of comedy that the film takes great pleasure in exploring, most of this is due to the wonders of the films lead actor. Fans of physical comedy would be pleasantly surprised that this is one of the earliest film roles for Jim Carrey. A lot of his trademark expression has yet to manifest, but you can see the origins and the prototypical version of the moves here. Blazing Saddles star Cleavon Little makes one of his last film roles as The Countess’s camp and sarcastic assistant.

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The Countesses time-sprawling menagerie of servants.

The soundtrack and score are as colourful as the cast and setting with synth-heavy salsa-esque love main theme, by John Du Prez, who music buffs may know from Salsa-pop English band Modern Romance. These compositions are accompanied by energetic new wave and rock anthems that manage to underscore the film quite well. Mid-eighties California is also a great setting for comedic vampire flicks, as 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer will find out. Neon night-clubs and Miami-Vice styled art-deco manor houses add an extra dose of glamour and fun to the proceedings.

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You’ll have a hard time finding more stylish rooms, to have affairs with a vampire!

The name once bitten is quite apt as the film feels like a teen sex comedy that has had a chance encounter with vampiric un-life. It’s funny, just a right amount of camp to help ease the juxtaposition of these two elements. At one hour and thirty minutes, it’s an interesting artefact to behold of a time that’s gone by, of an iconic actor at the start of his career, and another towards the end of theirs. It’s a terrific date night flick, just make sure your partner isn’t too bitey.

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There’s been worse situations to be caught with your pants down… but not that many!

If you want more positive reviews delivered to the e-mail box of your choice, you can click on that little text bubble at the bottom of the screen. Do you agree or disagree? or have a suggestion for another pop-culture artefact that needs a positive light shone on it? Leave a comment in the comment box below! But remember to keep it positive!

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