The Horror Honeys: VAMPIRE MONTH ~ ONCE BITTEN: Third Time's the Charm

VAMPIRE MONTH ~ ONCE BITTEN: Third Time's the Charm

A Bloodthirsty Monster Honey Review by Jennica 

Once Bitten (1985)

Sex. Doing it. Getting laid. I don't remember ever feeling pressured to engage in such activity as a teenager, but the desire was definitely there. And it was obvious who had or hadn't done the dirty deed. Those who remained virgins wanted to take that rite of passage, but it could prove to be a difficult mission to accomplish when those who had done it mostly avoided those who had not. As Mark Kendall soon learns, once you have been bitten, it's a struggle to return to the innocent.

The Plot: When virginal and sexually frustrated Mark (Jim Carrey) struggles to convince his girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins) to put out, the pressure becomes unbearable as everyone around him seems to be knocking boots. Literally. Eager to get their friend laid, Mark's college buddies drag him along to a neon-lit bar in Hollywood where he meets a hot blonde little number with a soft spot for virgins. After a night of heavy petting, Mark soon learns that the babe who bagged him is really a button-biting vampire interested in more than just his body. In order to maintain her good looks, she must taste the blood of a virgin three times before Halloween. Unfortunately for this bloodsucker, Robin has a tight grip on her man and she will not go down without a fight. 

Although Once Bitten is a film that I praise purely for its entertainment value, it is impossible to ignore the blatant misogyny as a reflection of 1980s anti-feminist backlash. Just when women were beginning to make major strides in the fight for gender equality in the 1960s and 1970s, along came the 1980s to push women back to their respective places in patriarchal society. Beyond the excess hairspray, plunging necklines, and bright eyeshadow, the sexually experienced woman is seen as the most dangerous species, especially if she is a self-made success such as the Countess.

Aside from pointing out the obvious in that the sexually charged wealthy woman in this film is also the undead antagonist, there are a number of moments when the Countess is not only persecuted for her promiscuity but also ridiculed for being a vampire who happens to be a woman. 

In traditional 80s fashion, there is a keyboard infused dance-off between the pure Robin and the lady of the evening with Robin sporting white spandex and the Countess in black, resembling a modern take on the final showdown in an old western and clearly color-coding the good and the bad. What's worse is that Robin wastes all of her energy "protecting" Mark from the Countess, forgetting that-- despite the other woman's hypnotic hold on her boyfriend-- it takes two to do the horizontal tango.

Cougar achievement unlocked.
While Robin is kept busy with a death grip on her other half, the rest of the characters use every opportunity to question the Countess's capabilities. She is accused of performing sexual favors when her wealth is discovered and her role as a vampire is treated like a scientific fluke. Even the middle-aged librarian finds it peculiar that women could be vampires, comparing them to defenseless animals. Because drinking bloody Marys and bringing home the bacon are a man's duties, apparently.

Now that I have climbed down from my soap box, what makes Once Bitten such an endearing film is that it does for young horror fans what Porky's (1981) and American Pie (1999) do for young comedy fans. It is a staple in teenage movie viewing because it addresses many of the confusing feelings that young pubescent individuals-- especially guys-- experience at this stage in life... and it makes light of them. As in most teen comedies, Once Bitten makes losing one's virginity the single most important life goal that must be achieved and by any means necessary. 

I dated a guy in high school who wore that same shirt.
"Hi. I'm Russ, and I'm a Sagitarius. I enjoy surfing, candlelit dinners, and Tolstoy. Listen, I'm a mature person and you're a mature person, so why don't we skip all the bullshit, get rid of our inhibitions, and DO what we really want to DO?"

Underneath the teen comedy gold and bloodlust, the story is also about first love from the male perspective. Along the way, the boys enagage in sexual humor, repeatedly face rejection and disappointment, and find themselves in unintentionally homoerotic situations as they grow to discover what kind of men they want to become. But wherever the wind takes them, they know that they definitely don't want to become creatures of the night.

Despite the sexism that is to be unfortunately expected from any teen comedy in the 1980s and even today, Once Bitten is essentially the male equivalent of Teen Witch (1989)... minus the uncomfortable rapping scene. It contains bad 80s hair and even worse fashion statements topped off with a carefully choreographed montage on Hollywood Boulevard set to music with one of the cheesiest instruments of the decade: the keyboard. Overall, anyone who has ever been a lovesick teenager (that would be everyone, right?) can relate to and enjoy watching Mark trip over his own two fangs as he attempts to understand what makes a good relationship.

Top that!
Jennica's Rating: 5 bitten buttons out of 5

If you have been bitten by the love bug and you don't know what to do, spend the evening with Once Bitten, which is available on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.

Have you already sunk your teeth into Once Bitten
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