Some horror-comedies work and some do not with those that fail having humour that is dated and no longer funny – if it ever was in the first place. Once Bitten is sadly in that latter category and while it featured a reasonably green Jim Carrey paired with veteran Lauren Hutton, it would not be enough to save the film from being a run-of-the-mill teen comedy best left in the decade it was first released.
It was not all bad as director Howard Storm would balance it all out with a bit of drama and seeing Carrey try to give an earnest performance was enough to make viewers latch on to his character and empathize with him but too often would it try to delve into the farcical side of things, making the audience groan rather than laugh. Hutton was great as the vampire seductress, playing the part perfectly and well-suited as the four-hundred-year-old woman who needed the blood of a virgin to continue her existence. She would play things off as casual with a sly wit and she more than anyone else would bring a smile to the face. Carrey might have been good, as was Karen Kopins as his girlfriend Robin but it would be Hutton who would really make this picture as good as it was.
The funniest parts of the movie had to be those that featured Carrey’s transformation from a nerdy ice cream boy into James Dean-like vampire, Carrey not really noticing what is happening to him while everyone else around him keeps on wondering just what is going on with him. The best part of the entire affair though was the dance sequence, which seems silly to say with this being a horror movie and a comedy. Still, it did involve more than a bit of talent and it managed to tell a story in itself as well which would delve fully into the conclusion where Carrey would either break free from Hutton’s spell or completely fall under it.
Calling this a horror movie is doing it a disservice as there was no horror present. It had elements that could be found in horror movies, like the vampires that were present but this was more light-hearted teen comedy than anything else, which is not a bad thing, but those looking for anything remotely scary had best look elsewhere. Maybe if it had a good dose of fright, it would have given it a bit of an edge to make it truly compelling.
There are many movies from the 80s that remain as good now as the day they were first released and sadly, Once Bitten tends to show its age and not in a good way. It is still worth a look, especially for one of Carrey’s earliest performances but there are better films from the decade that one could watch instead.
2 out of 5