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  Love at First Bite Long In The Tooth
Year: 1979
Director: Stan Dragoti
Stars: George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Arte Johnson, Dick Shawn, Michael Pataki, Sherman Helmsley, David Ketchum, Isabel Sanford
Genre: Horror, Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Count Dracula (George Hamilton) is enduring a lonely existence in his Transylvanian castle when he is abruptly evicted to make way for a Romanian gymnastics school. Besotted with a model (Susan Saint James) he has seen in the pages of fashion magazines, he travels to New York to hunt her down and make her his vampire bride...

This amiable horror spoof was written by Robert Kaufman, in a jokey update of Bram Stoker's famed bloodsucker. Of all the vampire parodies, this is the most bloodless (or least bloodfull), settling for easy humour, lacking the style of, for example, Dance of the Vampires, and in fact looking more like a TV movie.

George Hamilton seems an unlikely choice to play Dracula, especially with that famed tan, but he carries it off with considerable aplomb. In his cape, black suit and white tie, he makes for a suave, dignified, commanding figure at odds with modern day New York. Well, 1970s New York anyway - Love at First Bite hasn't dated too well, as you can see when just about every black character references Alex Haley's "Roots" and the Count visits a disco to dance to Alicia Bridges' "I Love the Nightlife" (quite a nice scene, actually).

Hamilton is possibly the most sympathetic screen Dracula, a man out of time, a hopeless romantic in a plastic, cynical age, which is probably why Saint James' model falls for him. He has a rival in the shape of Richard Benjamin, a psychiatrist descendant of Van Helsing, who bungles his attempts to destroy the Count (shooting him with silver bullets, warding him off with a Star of David instead of a cross, etc.). So he is no match for Dracula, who has supernatural abilities, such as transforming himself into Cinema's least convincing vampire bat.

If the humour is largely at sitcom level, occasional coarse gags aside, then there are a few decent laughs, mostly concentrating on how ridiculous it sounds to have a real vampire stalking the streets of the big city, and the cast take advantage of whatever chances they get. It's just that Hamilton is so good, you'll wish the script had been wittier and the direction had matched his flair. Still, it's funnier than Vampire in Brooklyn or Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Music by Charles Bernstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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