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  Once Bitten Virgin Territory
Year: 1985
Director: Howard Storm
Stars: Lauren Hutton, Jim Carrey, Karen Kopins, Cleavon Little, Thomas Ballatore, Skip Lackey, Jeb Stuart Adams, Joseph Brutsman, Stuart Charno, Robin Klein, Glen Mauro, Gary Mauro, Carey More, Peter Elbling, Richard Schaal, Peggy Pope, Megan Mullally
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Countess (Lauren Hutton) is awakened from her slumber by her manservant Sebastian (Cleavon Little); a glass of fresh blood is just the pick-me-up she needs, but today it is not enough. With Halloween approaching, she knows that as a vampire she must find a virgin to drink the blood of three times before it arrives but as Sebastian and her previously vampirised cronies tell her, that is going to be easier said than done in the modern eighties world. However, teenage college student Mark Kendall (Jim Carrey) might be precisely what she is looking for...

Almost ten years before hitting the big time on the big screen, Jim Carrey was hitting the small time there with Once Bitten, a horror comedy which was neither scary, nor especially funny. It's always strange that the film that seem to have been scripted over a couple of idle afternoons, such as this one, should have an army of writers working on it and so it is here, with four scribes putting their blood, sweat and teats into entertaining the viewer. Although whether they succeeded or not was debatable.

Well, maybe not that debatable, as this simply wasn't very good. It wasn't diabolical, but fans of the comedy star hoping for an early showing of his madcap stylings will be disappointed to see him playing pretty much straight here, with only a smattering of goofing to be enjoyed. Of course, it is Mark who the Countess sets he sights on because his girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins) won't go all the way with him, but when his two best friends decide to take him out for a night on the town in his ice cream van they end up at a nightclub where the bloodsucker is.

She takes Mark back to her place which he nervously expects to lead to a night of passion, but all she does is whip down his trousers and (offscreen) bite him in an intimate area, making him pass out. Now the Countess just needs two more bites to reach her aim and ensure her immortality - the version of vampire lore here does not stand up to much scrutiny, seemingly plot-driven rather than driving the plot. As a result there's a love triangle, not that Countess is really in love, with Robin trying to win Mark back from her supernatural rival.

For the most part Once Bitten appears pro-virginity, with the Countess representing the big, bad world of sex, but the way Mark is saved suggests that the love of a good woman is a better option. The only spark of eighties goodness can be seen when Mark and Robin attend a fancy dress party at the college, which the Countess shows up at too. Suddenly the movie springs into life as the central relationships are brought out through the medium of dance - this is the kind of cheese you might be hoping for should you choose to watch it. Alas, it lasts about four minutes and the rest is limp humour and a spot of running about, so your reactions will doubtless be predominantly muted: there were far better updatings of vampire clich├ęs during this era. Music by John Du Prez.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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