Love At First Bite / Once Bitten – Double Feature (Blu-ray Review)

Once-Bitten-THUMBJust in time for Valentine’s Day, Scream Factory is stocking up on the most romantic of classic movie monsters, the vampire.  They’re releasing three of them that week.  We’ve already talked about Vampire’s Kiss, but the other two are comedies as well.  This Double Feature includes the George Hamilton 1979 romp Love At First Bite and the early Jim Carrey teen sex comedy Once Bitten.  That’s an easy common thread to find them as a double feature in a pack.  But I also find it funny that they both have a play on the number one and the word “bite” in their titles as well.  Intentional?  I’m hoping that’s the case.  Pretty clever.  These are two comedies that cover both classic era vampires (Dracula) and ones in the modern world more akin to that of a Fright Night type (Once Bitten actually released the same year as Fright Night).  Both feature some bloody good laughs.

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Love At First Bite 

The infamous vampire Count Dracula is expelled from his castle by the Communist government of Romania, which plans to convert the structure into a training facility for gymnasts.  The world-weary Count travels to New York City with his bug-eating manservant, Renfield, and establishes himself in a hotel. While Dracula learns that America contains such wonders as blood banks, he also proceeds to suffer the general ego-crushing that comes from modern life in the Big Apple as he romantically pursues flaky fashion model Cindy Sondheim, whom he has admired from afar and believes to be the current reincarnation of his true love (an earlier being named Mina Harker).

In Hollywood, its not uncommon that ever year, you’ll have two movies that cover the same exact subject matter.  Last year we had two Hercules films, and famously everyone remembers the year of Deep Impact and Armageddon.  1979 brought us not one, not two, but three Dracula films.  Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu and John Badham’s Dracula both were takes on the Bram Stoker novel.  Love At First Bite, however, features Dracula, but is a story entirely of its own.  Its also a parody/comedy film instead of a straightforward approach.  And unlike the Hammer Dracula movie that had the Count going to the 1970s, this one is actually worth your time.

George Hamilton plays the iconic Count Dracula in this rendition.  Hamilton might be one of the suavest mofo’s to ever grace the screen in cinema history.  What I dig about the guy though, is that he has no problem with not taking himself seriously.  Here, as Dracula, he digs all in, committing to being a ridiculously stereotypical version of the prince of darkness.  He would also two years later do another dig on a classic character in Zorro: The Gay Blade.  In that movie, he co-starred with Lauren Hutton, who is one of the stars of the other film on this double feature.  So, our double feature disc is a whole one degree of separation apart.

Love At First Bite is still pretty funny, but I’m also a bit older, to where I’d understand this film’s humor, time and place.  Do be warned that there is a Vacation-esque racially dated and one gender-dated humor scene in the film.  The music, the references, jokes and overall feel of the movie is very 70s.  It works, and does what its doing quite well, but in “holding up” or being relevant with a modern generation, it may not be so successful.  I mean, they currently have the Luke Evans Dracula Untold as their guide to the most famous bloodsucker which is eons and light years away from this content.  Still, there’s a charm, and enjoyment to this one, and older generations will still like it or enjoy it if they’ve not seen it before.

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Once Bitten 

For 400 years, the Countess has kept herself looking good and young by drinking the blood of a virgin three times before Halloween night every year.  Through this, she has acquired a group of loyal servants.  Enter Mark, a high school guy who really wants to lose his virginity, but his girlfriend just isn’t ready yet.  Mark and his buddy’s go to a bar that’s purpose is mainly to instantly hook up and Mark meets the Countess.  As the Countess feeds, Mark slowly begins turning into a vampire, coming off as strange and weird to his friends and girlfriend.

As I mentioned in the Vampire’s Kiss review, Once Bitten kinda came and went without really holding on or being noticed.  It did do ten million dollars on a three million budget, but it had bad reviews and was straight to video in most countries.  However, once Ace Ventura: Pet Detective took off and Jim Carrey became a star, this movie started resurfacing in video stores and got another look.  Its become somewhat of a cult movie over the years.  I’ll say it definitely isn’t as bad as it was judged back in 1985.

If Love At First Bite was super 70s, then Once Bitten is super 80s.  The styles, lighting, hair and music is all right in your face with all the biggest stereotypes you can find.  And its awesome to see it in action.  Its one of those movies that has a title song and they are not afraid to use it at every chance they get.   To add to the 80s teen awesomeness, I got a kick out of seeing three actors from Friday the 13th sequels (Each from a different one) in this movie.  You get the nerd guy from Part 2, one of the twins from The Final Chapter and the curly haired fat kid with the candy bars from Part 5.  For me, it was like having major celebrity cameos or something.

Jim Carrey here is pretty good and shows hints of the way we’d come to know him in the 90s.  He’s a very good “regular guy” teen for this kind of comedy.  While he works well with his teenage supporting cast, he does seem to stand out among them.  Lauren Hutton is also incredibly fun to see chew up the scenery.  The film does have some really good humor in it, and good ideas.  Its never ridiculously funny, but there’s a sort of charm I found and would definitely pop this one in again sometime.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  Love At First Bite has a nice, good looking, charmingly 70s looking quality to it.  Detail runs very good and the image is sharp and crisp.  Once Bitten is a bit soft, but features a nicely detailed image in the way of fabrics, surface and textures in the film.  Its actually a rather impressive image.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep.  In non close-up shots, detail is very light and/or hidden.  Hair cuts and stuff feature plenty of detail though.

Color Reproduction:  Colors looks pretty natural and bold.  Love At First Bite doesn’t offer up a lot in terms of range, but what they do have comes out as bold.  Once Bitten is super 80s, so there’s plenty of vivid flashy colors that look terrific on this transfer.  Reds really pop on this one too.

Flesh Tones:  Natural and consistent.  Skin detail is good on medium and close shots.  Makeup lines, wrinkles, stubble and moles are all discernible and present.  There are close ups that look insanely impressive in both films too.

Noise/Artifacts:  Once Bitten is rather clean.  Love At First Bite has some dirt and specs throughout.  Both films feature a nice layer of grain.

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Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Both films feature a nice, natural and loose sounding audio tracks representative of their original theatrical mixes.  By the nature of age, Once Bitten sounds a bit better than Love At First Bite.  Both films though feature nice loud mixes with good distinct sound effects and clean music.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp and clean on both accounts.  Love At First Bite features a little bit lower sounding of a vocal track.

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Both films share a BD-50 disc.  The cover art insert has some promo photos on its reverse side.

Love At First Bite

Trailer (SD, 3:03)

Radio Spots (HD, 2:03)

Once Bitten

Trailer (SD, :57)

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Of the two Scream Factory Double Feature releases coming out on February 10, this is easily the better of the two.  Both movies are enjoyable little vampire comedies.  Vampire’s Kiss is the best movie out of all the releases, but if you’re wanting two good ones, this is the way to go (Or, you know, pick up both).  Not much lies in the way of bonus features, but nothing ever has, and getting these films to Blu-ray is a bonus enough.  Its also priced very well, which makes this an easy pick up for fans and collectors.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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