Once Bitten (1985)
Director(s): Howard Storm
Writer(s): Dimitri Villard (Story), David Hines, Jeffrey Hause, Jonathan Roberts
Starring: Jim Carrey, Lauren Hutton, Karen Kopins
You’ll never know what flick you’ll run into on a Sunday afternoon. Nowadays, whenever the day is lazy, a simple click to a streaming service gives you access to a ridiculous amount of movies of all genres. I can spend a good hour just swiping just to find something nostalgic, something I meant to watch at some point or hopefully, something new that I can experience with no expectations. There was something about Sunday afternoons where the most random movies would come on with no real announcement. It was just a matter of flipping the channels and seeing an interesting scene or recognizing a familiar face that makes you put down the remote and get sucked into a hidden treasure.
I remember the Jim Carrey era that all started with Ace Ventura Pet Detective. The kids around me were doing their best impressions with about a million “Alrighty thens” and a sudden uprising of thrift shop Hawaiian shirts. Some things never change in the entertainment industry; as with any new star, the first thing most networks try to do is to dig up some flicks that feature those stars when they weren’t so…star worthy. Imagine my surprise when a lazy Sunday afternoon filled with channel flipping all of sudden ran into a young Jim Carrey in full on 80’s gear talking about the ladies! I didn’t even know at the time that this was going to be a delicious horror comedy that is Once Bitten but I was already in with the mere fact I was getting an 80’s comedy with Mr. Ace Ventura himself!
Once Bitten follows a young adult Jim Carrey, who like all young folks in 80’s flicks, is surrounded by the normal anxieties tied to the funky mambo (or SEX as the norms would call it) and of course, his cute girlfriend refuses to take that next step as his hapless friends (also virgins) put even more pressure for everyone to lose their precious “V-Card.” Luckily for our horny hero, a Countess vampire played by the COUGAR-rific Lauren Hutton (a term not used at the time but holy hell does it fit the description) is looing for virgin blood in order to remain young and beautiful. She seduces young Carrey throughout the flick and every time she takes another dip into his blood bank (not a euphuism…I’m pretty sure), he becomes more vampire than man.
Although the horror in the movie is scarce at best, the comedy of slowly turning into a vampire in the name of just trying to get laid is something that is quite entertaining for me. The entertaining parts of the movie were driven by a young and energetic Jim Carrey milking every scene that makes his transformation to the undead as funny as it was entertaining. One scene in particular was when Carrey was already more than halfway into his transformation, he ends up winning the costume contest at his school for being a vampire when all he wore was a black getup including trenchocat with slicked back hair and black t-shirt! I remember laughing hysterically as he hissed at people and his pasty white skin was about as believable as the plot but his comedic chops made this scene fantastic! The supporting cast was also quite good with Lauren Hutton having her stylish minions catering to her every demand and gives way to some great diva moments where you realize why the Countess has been the Queen bee for as long as she has at that point.
The best part of watching any young talent is seeing them shine before the world gives them a break and become superstars. You can tell from a cheesy vampire comedy like this flick that the main character was meant for great things. When you can take a plot that’s part Weird Science and other part Fright Night and make it work by sheer will power by the actors, then you know that you’re in for something special and although I caught this flick AFTER Carrey had already started his climb to stardom, I felt like it was watching a solid prequel to an entertaining human being. The same spastic, hectic energy that Jim Carrey brings to most of his roles starts to sprout in this flick and by the time the horror portions arrive, you feel at ease already from the comedy so it’s a welcoming change of tone when the fangs and blood start come out! The ending to this flick is as 80’s as it gets and wraps everything in a surprising fashion.
I recommend this flick to any past / present Jim Carrey fans or I would even go as far as recommending this flick to anyone who was into 80’s comedies in general! I also implore anyone to flip the channels on a lazy Sunday and play some movie Russian roulette; you’ll never know when you’ll run into your next nostalgic favorite. Okay, I’ve been holding it in, ALLLLLLRIIIIGGGGHHHHTYYYY THEN!
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.