Saturday, January 21, 2017

Once Bitten (1985)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Vampire movies are a mixed bag.  Some are comedies while others are dramas.  Some are even erotic or pornographic.  The vampires tend to be very similar, but will often have the same attributes, such as intolerance of sunlight, immortality, and dislike of crosses and/or garlic.

Mark, played by Jim Carrey, is an average teenager.  He has no concept of vampires.  He goes to school, has a girlfriend and sells ice cream out of an ice-cream truck to make money.  He’s a bit frustrated in that he can’t seem to get it on with said girlfriend.  (It doesn’t help that his primary mode of transportation is the ice-cream truck.)  His two friends decide to help him out with this.

They take Mark to a bar hoping that he’ll hook up with someone.  (It’s Mark’s hope that having sex will take some of the pressure off.)  The bar they choose operates on a fairly simple idea.  Each table has a phone and a very visible number.  If you see someone you like, you pick up your phone and dial the number of the table you want.  When Mark’s table gets a call, he jumps into action.

The woman interested in him is known simply as Countess.  (She’s played by Lauren Hutton.)  Unbeknownst to Mark, Countess has to drink the blood of a virgin three times by Halloween in order to stay young and beautiful.  Yes, there are places where virgins are plentiful, but she prefers to live in a big city.  She may not have a lot of virgins to choose from, but she at least has Mark.

They go back to her place while Mark’s friends get arrested.  He gets a little drunk and passes out while Countess does what she has to do.  When he wakes up the next morning, he goes home.  He doesn’t remember much, which sort of defeats the entire purpose of going to the bar in the first place.  It must have been pretty good, though, because Countess is following him around, hoping for her second “transfusion”.

Mark is really worried now.  Not only does his girlfriend find out, but he notices that he’s changing.  He has increased sensitivity to sunlight, starts sleeping in his footlocker and is developing one of those famous vampire tans.  He starts to become paranoid when he scares two small children.  (He also gets lots of attention at a school dance for his great vampire costume, despite insisting that he didn’t get dressed up at all.)

Since it’s a comedy, I think you can assume that everything works out for Mark.  (Don’t worry.  I won’t spoil the ending.)  The movie can also get away with a few things that I would complain about otherwise.  I’ve never understood why vampires don’t reflect in mirrors.  I realize that here, the movie needs a simple way for Mark and his girlfriend to realize that he’s turning.  But I’ve always wondered.  We can see vampires, which means that they project an image.  Why doesn’t that image reflect in a mirror?  (Most movies at least show the clothes while the person disappears.  Here, both Mark and his costume disappear in the mirror.)

The movie is fairly goofy.  There weren’t many scenes where I was laughing, but it was silly at points.  There’s very little nudity, so don’t rent thinking you’ll see something.  Yes, Lauren Hutton is seen wearing revealing clothing.  The only thing that the broadcast networks would potentially find objectionable is a seminude picture of her character hanging on the wall in her place.

There’s also very little violence or gore.  There are a few gross-out scenes.  In one, Mark drinks the runoff from some ground beef.  (I’d imagine that it’s fruit punch or something.)  In another, he asks for a raw hamburger patty for lunch when his normal preference is to have his burger make charcoal briquettes look rare.  Other scenes aren’t much worse than that.

The story isn’t anything new.  We’ve seen vampires preying on people to get a fix of fresh blood.  I’ve never understood, though, why midnight sometimes plays an important role.  Countess has been around for 400 years, long before accurate timekeeping was invented.  Why is it that she has to drink blood by the stroke of midnight?  What happens if her watch is a little off?  (Ever notice that everybody’s watch is always set to the correct time?)

It’s one of those average movies.  It’s not horrible, but I’m glad that I didn’t spend any money renting it.  Instead, I recorded it off of a movie channel.  That’s kind of a problem with vampire movies.  There really isn’t much that this movie adds to the mythology.  If the comes on, I guess there are worse ways you could spend the time.  There are also better ways.

IMDb page

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