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The Countess has a problem. She is a 400 year old vampire who will cease to look young unless she is able to feed on a virgin three times before Holloween, a week away. She sends Sebastian, her servant and all of her lesser vampires out to find one. Finding a virgin is difficult in 1980s Los Angeles. Mark has a problem. He wants to 'do it' with Robin in the worst way, but she wants to wait. Jamie and Russ, Mark's goofy friends convince him to go to a Hollywood pick up spot where Mark meets the Countess, on the prowl. Robin's not going to understand. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the costume party/dance scene, when Robin and Countess are having a dance fight over Mark, the camera is zooming in on the dance, to the very left of the screen you can see the lens hood of a second camera zooming in. See more »
Strangely enough, I read a review of one IMDb user who asserted that Once Bitten is one of Jim Carrey's best performances since going mainstream. I'm curious as to what this user means by that statement, because Once Bitten was YEARS before Carrey went mainstream. Is this person saying that Carrey's performance here is better than his performances years later, when he did, in fact, get into mainstream films?
If so, I beg to differ. And if not, I still beg to differ.
The first thing that struck me about Once Bitten is that it is a teen sex comedy, which is not something that I ever associated with Jim Carrey (not the least reason for which is because most of his better know movies are not only above such childish comedy but were made long after his teenage years were over). Even in Once Bitten he was about 23 years old, but the movie focuses on his inability to communicate very effectively with women, much less pull off any successful sexual encounters. Enter a vampire, surprisingly sexy for her 400 years, who must feed on three virgins or cease to exist. All desperate high school guy in the 80s should have been so lucky.
The premise is ridiculous, comparable to those bad movies that feature things like strippers that turn into aliens, or other monsters that feed on humans by taking on the form of sexy naked women in order to seduce men. Where the movie goes right is in the two main characters, Lauren Hutton as the vampiress trying to feed on Mark Kendall, to whom Jim Carrey brings a surprisingly effective level of insecurity and awkward appeal. Carrey obviously remembers similar developmental difficulties in his own youth.
Mark's two friends, the obligatory sex-starved geeks who bounce crude humor off of each other, are negligible, put into the movie for no other reason than for some vampire snacks and to have someone for Mark to complain to about his nervousness about sex, while they confidently give him all kinds of advice, momentarily forgetting that they share in at least his same level of cluelessness on the subject.
While earlier, and dumber, sex comedies like Porky's made no attempt to be more than they are, dumb sex comedies, Once Bitten successfully tries to present a sort of lesson about the dangers of promiscuity, while at the same time failing ultimately because it tries to be too much than its material allows. Rather than seeking the old jugular, this vampiress prefers to drink from a more southerly location, providing a pretty ham-handed allegory of sexually transmitted diseases. Carrey has been prowling dingy bars in search of an easy first time (in response to his lack of success with an un-promiscuous girlfriend), and ends up placing in grave danger the very parts that he is trying to get some much needed attention.
There is a sad story behind the writing of the screenplay. David Hines, a college student desperately avoiding real life, took endless art classes to postpone graduation, and ultimately dropped out when it seemed that his screenplay for Once Bitten, at the time titled Nightlife, seemed to be taking off. The movie was put into production, produced, released, and then six months later sat on the shelves at Sam Goody, where Hines worked as a lowly entry level employee, constantly teased by his coworkers over the spectacular failure of his movie. I really can't say that I found it to be THAT bad, but again, this could be just because I'm a huge fan of Jim Carrey. Maybe the movie was just overshadowed by Fright Night (also not great but better than Once Bitten), released the same year, and The Lost Boys (vastly superior to both), released two years later. Either way, Once Bitten is hardly an underrated gem.
The film itself is pretty dismal, but it remains interesting even if for no other reason than because you can so clearly see the budding elements of what would later become Jim Carrey trademarks. Not just his over-the-top comedy performances, but also even slight hints at his more dramatic roles, like when he goes to the Halloween party and is exasperated that he keeps having to explain that he's not dressed as a vampire, he's not even wearing a costume. It's a cheesy teen sex comedy, but Carrey makes it interesting, at least some parts. It's just too bad that he had to develop more of a career before people cared.
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