‘Once Bitten’: Racist, Homophobic, AND Corny AF (review)

Mark (Jim Carrey) is a typical teenage boy who is currently dissatisfied by his long-time girlfriend Robin’s (Karen Kopin) refusal to have sex. While trolling for some strange with his buddies, he meets the mysterious Countess (Lauren Hutton). Unfortunately, Countess is a vampire who needs his virgin blood three times before Halloween or she loses her youth. She seduces Mark and bites him, starting the process of turning him into a vampire. Thus, Mark soon begins to exhibit strange behavior like sleeping in a trunk and eating raw meat. Robin refuses to give up on Mark and with his friends sets out to free him from Countess’s spell.

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The second-most glorious sideboob of 1985

I first saw this film at age twelve, when I had a massive crush on Jim Carrey. I haven’t seen it in almost twenty years. One thing that struck me was how selfish Mark is. After his girlfriend declines having sex with him in an ice cream truck, he decides he’s entitled to go catting around with his single friends and pick up a woman. He justifies his actions with the statement, “I was drunk […] I’m a teenager, I’m supposed to make stupid mistakes.” Robin goes back to him, blaming herself for his sexual frustration. Later, when Countess stalks him, Mark tries to hide her. He even blasts ice cream truck music in the wee hours of the morning after he thinks he and the Countess had sex and is triumphant. The whole thing leaves me wondering what the appeal is to Robin. The only time I enjoy her goodie-two-shoes wishy-washy ass is when she yells at Mark, “I can’t believe you’re willing to throw away our relationship on a one-night stand with a chauffeur and a butler and a slut who eats buttons!”

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Other grating aspects of the film include the dance-off between Robin and Countess, who fight over Mark choreographically (see below). Then there’s Sebastian, Countess’s Black butler/chauffeur (Cleavon Little). He’s in a cringe-worthy subservient position through the whole film. Not to mention the dream sequence when Mark eats dinner with Countess while Sebastian skates by playing an accordion, and yet another Black servant shows up. Also, Sebastian is gay. While his character is less offensive than some ‘80s depictions of gay guys, he does have a nasty habit of hiding in Countess’s closet and stealing her clothes. Also really offensive are Mark’s two obnoxious sex-crazed pals, who after an incident in the school shower (while looking for a vampire bite on Mark’s penis) are horrified to be called “fags.” Later one of them obsesses over the incident, in the process using the phrases “homos” and “rump rangers.”

Upon my recent viewing, I enjoyed the film a lot less than when I was an odd tween. Back then I didn’t bother with questions like: since Countess and her minions are vulnerable to fire, why is her entire house covered with lit candles and torches? She has electricity! But if you’re in the mood for a super-‘80s (complete with a montage of wacky L.A. street people) vampire comedy, or are just interested in seeing a young Jim Carrey, give this one a look.

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Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

3 thoughts on “‘Once Bitten’: Racist, Homophobic, AND Corny AF (review)

  1. Having watched this film when it was first released in 1985, when I was six, and looking back now after re-watching throughout the years, there are for sure things that stand out and would be red flagged now!

    In the 80’s, it was common to see a lot of homophobia depicted in movies, especially the corny and campy comedies. “Fags” was a reoccurring insult, and straight men being utterly terrified of the “fags” happened consistently in many movies. It is interesting in this film, with all the rampant gay panic and horrendous slurs throughout the movie, yet, there is have a strong supporting character who is a gay man, but in hindsight, that was fairly typical for the time. I recall many 80’s movies the stereotypical flamboyant and effeminate gay male, was often a black man. For instance, the character Hollywood in Mannequin, and Lamar in Revenge of the Nerds.

    However, I didn’t even consider that the servants were black men, until you pointed that out! So now, that is going to stand out to me every time I watch it.

    The whole thing about Mark, using guilt and shame to pressure Robin into sex, and using that as a foundation for around the entire reason the Countess stalks him, is because Robin refuse to devirginize Mark, would put half the world up in arms today with “cancel culture” and obtaining consent being taught and encouraged just as much as condoms are! Although with that said, sex isn’t viewed as prude today either, and women are much more open and bold when it comes to having sex. There isn’t the same cultural stigma of waiting forever to have sex with a bf/gf (seriously, six years?), or that sex is supposed to be saved for marriage. So, really that entire “virginity” theme doesn’t’ apply hardly at all anymore, and some say that virginity is a myth as it is.

    There are other quirky and notable thigs that happen, that would entirely unacceptable now, and with good reason., but back in the 80’s, it was different, and the world had a different perspective, so I don’t think it was done out of “rape culture” or racism or homophobia.

    With all that said, this movie was always so strange to me with how Mark and Robin, were supposed to be college aged, but Mark lived at home, and the college they attended was more like a high school, complete with a Halloween party and contest! The professors acted more like high school teachers, and they even had a principal? I guess they wanted that high school-esque theme, but they knew they couldn’t put them in high school, because that would be treading on very thin ice, since the Countess is a older woman, stalking and pursuing a young man! Mark had to be young, vulnerable and a teenager, but not TOO much of a teenager. I guess the same concept happened in the original Fright Night film with Charlie and Amanda. Young character’s, but still mature and old enough that the movie wasn’t risking venturing into creeper pedo vampire territory.

    Like

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