Available right now on Netflix, “Once Bitten” is a decidedly anaemic sex comedy that’s been consigned to the crypt of forgotten Eighties comedies. But is it time for it to rise from the tomb once more?
The Countess (Lauren Hutton) must feed on the blood of a young male virgin three times before Halloween each year to maintain her immortal youth and beauty. Unfortunately, this being the go-go eighties, young male virgins are in very short supply. Meanwhile, Mark (Jim Carrey) is desperate to go all the way with his girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins) but she’s making him wait. One night, Mark and his friends venture into downtown Hollywood to try their luck only to cross path with The Countess who’s doing the very same thing.
Unfortunately this high concept low wattage horror comedy isn’t anywhere near as timeless as its vampiric antagonist is aiming to be. Despite Carrey showing glimpses of the manic energy which would soon propel him to mega stardom, the film itself is pretty limp, saddled with witless sex comedy clichés and some truly appalling performances from cinema’s least threatening vampire henchmen.
There are a few bright spots, including a surprisingly effective ‘dance off’ in the middle of the movie but for every sequence which works, there are countless others which don’t, including a bizarre launderette pick-up ‘sketch’ and some horrifically misjudged shower based homophobic humour.
Lauren Hutton is laughably camp as the sensual and seductive Countess whose powers seem to come primarily from her ability to appear in soft focus and while her version of Igor, Sebastian (Cleavon Little) provides a counterpoint for the film’s homophobia, the film desperately needs some of the high intensity energy Meshach Taylor’s Hollywood would bring to “Mannequin” rather than the salty Niles Crane we get here.
Resolved through the crassest, sexist plot developments, “Once Bitten” is another nail in the coffin of my eighties comedy nostalgia. Consider me twice shy.