Wednesday, January 11, 2012


In the dozens of titles in the Zip and a Kick! Criterion Collection, one can expect to find an entire sub-category of "Childhood Favorites That Went Almost Entirely Over My Head At The Time". For example: In Dirty Dancing, I obviously didn't understand Penny's abortion, I just thought she had a headache. And try explaining to this 7 year-old what a NAZI is while he's trying to watch Angela Lansbury cast spells and fly a bed in Bedknobs & Broomsticks. Sometimes the details didn't quite stick, okay?

In the case of Once Bitten, however, it turns out I was as perceptive as I could have been back in the day. It became pretty obvious within the first few minutes of re-watching - for the first time in many years, this time on DVD - that my working knowledge of this 1985 Vampire Sex Comedy was entirely based on a version (or versions) edited for television. So what's the verdict, a couple of decades later?

Well, this movie isn't just way more overtly sexual - it's way more homosexual, too. Aside from Lauren Hutton's openly gay manservant Sebastian (Cleavon Little RIP), there's also Golden Girls-esque drag, a scene in the shower of the guys' locker room, and more. Throw in the fact that Jim Carrey was super young and not horribly unattractive, and it pretty much makes perfect sense why I used to be obsessed.

If I'm indoctrinating you for the first time, here's the plot: Lauren Hutton stars as Countess, a 390 year-old lady vampire, who must consume the blood of a virgin three times before the stroke of midnight on Halloween to sustain her "youth". 

Our virgin of course is Jim Carrey, playing the goofy high school senior Mark Kendall. His steady girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins) won't put out, so Mark and his two equally horny but way weirder friends decide to go to a bar in capital letters HOLLYWOOD to get laid. If you guessed that he'd meet Countess - congratulations! You've seen at least one movie made in the 80's.

Actual dialogue.

Aiding Countess in her virgin quest is none other than BFF Sebastian, who holds the title as the gayest black guy character in a movie until Mesach Taylor gives us Hollywood Montrose in Mannequin a few years later. Not just implied. GAAAAAAAAY.

I digress. Let's trace Mark's unforgettable journey into the world of bloodsucking cougars!

"HOLLYWOOD? That's where all the weirdos are!" More actual dialogue.

Greetings from HOLLYWOOD! In the remake, this lion would be taking a personality test from boulevard Scientologists.

They don't speak for the whole movie. It's fine.

One day I will reopen this club.

Somewhere, Bea Arthur is pulling off "woman" better than this guy. And she's dead.

The movie basically drives itself from this point...

GET IT? It DRIVES itself! And then there's a car! I'm sorry. 

Let's check in on Sebastian.

In case you were worried.

This is one horny ginger. Whoa.

I've had this exact same dream! Only with Trevor Donovan, a turquoise flamingo, and 100% less accordion playing.

I used to scream laugh every time she pushed that old lady into the clothing rack. Also: THAT'S A CLOTHING STORE. 

What do you think, Sebastian?

You sticky-fingered bitch!

Karen Walker: The Early Years.

Two women fighting over the same man? Let's take this to the dance floor!

I can't remember the names of Mark's friends after watching this movie last week, but I remember the locker room/shower scene vividly from my childhood. So there's that.

There's so much bat imagery throughout. That's what I call lazy production design.

We all have that person in our lives who feeds on virgins to stay young-looking...right?

How many teenage couples saw this movie, had sex in a coffin, got caught, and said they were merely trying to escape the clutches of Lauren Hutton? Anyone care to wager?

Because this movie was made in 1985, I hope you're not too surprised to learn that Robin's chastity and Mark's virginity expire just in time. And because of this, Countess gets special-effected back into a woman in her late 70's. Which is still over 300 years younger than she should be. So I guess it's happily-ever-afters all around!

There's always a risk when revisiting a movie you loved as a kid but have never watched as an adult. After the disastrous event that was going back to Transylvania 6-5000 (shudder), I was thrilled to find that Once Bitten is even more of a tongue-in-cheek campfest outside the confines of USA Up All Night. And here's to Sebastian, another surprise gay influence! This movie really does have it all.

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