Love At First Bite/Once Bitten (1979/1985) Blu-ray Double Feature

91YwiDscJuL._SL1500_I was 10 when Love At First Bite (1979) first came out, but probably a year or two older when I saw it on TV. I think this was around the time we first got cable and I remember George Hamilton from two other movies: The Power (1968) and Zorro: The Gay Blade (1981). I have The Power on MOD from Warner Brothers, but have not seen Zorro since those early cable days. I remember it being funny too and would love to revisit it someday to see if still holds up. For the most part Love At First Bite still holds up for me. The comedy is obviously a bit dated in some scenes, but comedic performances from Hamilton, Arte Johnson and Richard Benjamin still resonate.

Hamilton plays Count Vladimir Dracula who as the movie opens is at a crossroads in his life. He’s still living in his castle in Transylvania with Renfield (Arte Johnson), but he’s been smitten with this model in New York named, Cindy Sondheim (Susan Saint James), whom he’s only seen through fashion model magazines Renfield routinely buys for him, more likely steals. But she’s not a total stranger to him. He’s met her two other times within his immortal lifetime. Her last reincarnation was as Mina Harker and he’s determined to fall in love with here again.

Ask and ye shall receive.

An abrupt visit by three townsfolk sets these plans into motion for he’s being evicted to make way for an Olympic training facility his castle will soon become. No, he’s not pleased by these turn of events but now he can go to New York and make Cindy his.

The fish out of water plot is where the meat and potatoes of the comedy comes in and he reluctantly adjusts to living in his coffin in a hotel room and flying out into the city to find fresh victims to drink. This doesn’t work so well in the beginning.

Renfield finds Cindy and eventually Drac and her meet in a disco, where he seduces her with his undead charms on the dance floor to the musical stylings of “I Love The Night Life” by Alicia Bridges. You know there are also two other vampire movies that have similar “nightclub/dance scenes” in them. The other movie I’m be reviewing soon on this double feature, Once Bitten (1985), and Fright Night (1985). Coincidence?

To complicate matters Cindy has an old boyfriend, who’s a psychiatrist, she still sees. This is where Richard Benjamin comes into the picture at the 42–minute mark. He plays Dr. Jeffrey Rosenberg, but what we learn is he’s really a Van Helsing. He changed his name for professional reasons and once he learns Dracula himself is in town putting the bite on his ex he wants nothing more than to kill him. These are some of the funniest scenes in the movie, his attempted murder of the count. He just can’t recall the old legends correctly and messes up each one and he’s not ashamed to tell the authorities Dracula is in New York and he might need help killing the dude. These run-ins along with the “murder attempts” lands him in Belleview Mental Hospital each time.

George Hamilton makes a perfect comic count and Arte Johnson the perfect comic Renfield solely for his bizarre laugh, which cracks me up every time I hear it.

This movie has had a previous DVD release back in 2005 from MGM. It wasn’t until recently I heard it did not have the “I Love The Night Life” song in it. I have no clue what song they covered that scene up with but I’m glad I never bought it. “I Love The Night Life” is kind of synonymous with this flick. Scream Factory’s release, thankfully, has the song restored. Of course you already knew that from my previous mentioning. And this here is its first ever release on blu-ray!

Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—English Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio—English subs only.

The transfer looked pretty good to me. Clearer than I expected. Audio was good too.

The only extras included are the Trailer and some Radio Spots.

Once Bitten (1985), now here’s a movie whose memory is more indelible. I saw this twice in high school. Neither were at the theater because at the time it looked stupid. I caught it on cable a year later and kind of liked it, then a year after that a month or so before I graduated from high school. That viewing is the one I remember the most because I took the day off and while in the family room laying on the couch gazing out the bay window at the trees and sky I had this weird “introspective moment” where I wondered what life would be like after school, maybe even decades later. I then glanced at the movie and began to wonder if I was looking at any future stars in the making. I remember thinking, this kid here, the one playing Mark, I wonder if he’ll be some major big name actor in the future. Huh, wouldn’t that be something if that were true? Well, here we are in 2015 and I think we all know the answer to that.

Oh, yeah, I called it way back in 1985!

Not counting this review there’s only one other time I ended up revisiting this movie. It was back in the early 2000s, on a Sunday, on a blue/gray day. Let me explain, when I was a kid (grade school age) I always liked days where the sky wasn’t totally overcast, but there existed just a thin layer where you could barely see the blue above. In the right mixture the sky looks very blue-gray. There aren’t a lot of these days. At my current age I see, maybe, two or three a year, but every time there’s one I feel like I’m either back in childhood again or a teenager. And that day I saw Once Bitten the conditions were so right, I laid back, watched the movie and felt like I could have been in any day circa 1985.

Like Love At First Bite, Once Bitten centers on a 400 year old aristocratic bloodsucker in Los Angeles. This one comes in the more attractive form of ex-supermodel, Lauren Hutton, who’s simply known as The Countess by her lackeys. She lives in very posh digs as most bloodsuckers of her class would. Once a year she has to drink the blood of a virgin before All Hallows Eve or her immortality will suffer a serious downgrade, and she has to suck it from his inner thigh as close to the victim’s junk as possible on three separate occasions. A bit of a catch exists though; now that she’s lived into the 20th century finding virgins aren’t all that easy and she’s worried she isn’t going to make her quota by Halloween.

Nightly she sends out her flock (others she’s deflowered over the centuries) to find someone. Enter high schoolers Mark Kendall (Jim Carrey), Jamie (Thomas Ballatore) and Russ (Skip Lackey?); all virgins itching to get laid. Mark, however, already has a squeeze, Robin Pierce (Karen Kopins), and he’s tried several times to do the beast with two backs with her, but she doesn’t want to until it’s right. This sends Mark, Jamie and Russ into Hollywood one Friday night looking for some trim. They end up at a singles bar where Mark encounters The Countess. Not by accident mind you, in the earlier montage overlain with the “Once Bitten” song by 3-Speed, we see her lackeys have already targeted them. Hard not to since Mark sells ice cream from an ice cream truck and an ice cream truck in Hollywood on a Friday night kind of screams a certain naiveté . . . or perversion. This time it’s the former.

She picks him up and they take him home to her mansion in the hills. And when I say, ‘they,’ I mean her and Sebastian (Cleavon Little), her personal undead assistant. She seduces him, gets the first bite and he believes he nailed her. He was all drunk and everything so you can see why he might think that.

The next two bites are going to be work though, due to the fact that Robin has got a pretty good “love grip” on him and this prompts the Countess to shadow him as often as she can. The highlight in this little “love triangle” is a comical “fight/dance off” at the high school during their annual Halloween party performed to the musical stylings of “Hands Off” by Maria Vidal. I actually liked this song when I first heard it and still do. In fact I kind of like most of the songs featured in this movie.

The last bite, sadly, is not meant to be and culminates in Robin’s kidnapping after she bested the Countess in their little “fight” at the Halloween dance, forcing Mark, Jamie and Russ to follow. The ending kind of gets a little Looney Tunes, but it still works for me.

Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—English Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio—English subs only.

Of the two movies the transfer on this one is the best. It’s gorgeous with excellent colors and incredible clarity. The only extra here is the movie’s Trailer. Would have been fun to see a commentary or even an interview with some part of the cast, but it’s understandable if Scream tried to get someone, like, say, Carrey, and couldn’t. I think I would have been fall-down-shocked if he had done a brief interview or something.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of either of these flicks, especially Once Bitten, seek this double feature out! It streets on February 10th only on blu-ray from Shout! Factory’s horror sub-label, Scream Factory.


About Shawn Francis

Movie collector and horror writer.
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