The 1980s ushered in a new decade of horror spoofs, and one creature of the night that was often took the brunt of the joke was the vampire. Conveniently, three vampire comedies from that era have hit Blu-ray simultaneously, so a triple feature blog was inevitable.
LOVE AT FIRST BITE (1979)
Love at First Bite is disco’s last vampiric gasp. It is SO disco. So 1970s. And it really doesn’t do much to stand the test of comic time. It is a total nostalgia piece—but it has its moments, especially with the presence of Arte Johnson as Drac’s sidekick Renfield. He’s fricking awesome, and I laughed every time he did (because he has a really funny laugh). There’s also an in-joke about him being on Fantasy Island that only people of a certain age can appreciate…because he was…numerous times.
George Hamilton is Dracula, who has been kicked out of Transylvania. So he comes to New York to look for a bride. And there he falls for Susan Saint James. But as he begins to lure her over to the “nightlife,” her psychiatrist boyfriend (played by Richard Benjamin of Saturday the 14th) figures out what he’s up to and tries to put a stop to it.
You’ll get a few chuckles from the film but it’s in no way non-stop laugh out loud stuff. People go gaga over the dance scene set to Alicia Bridges’ “I Love the Nightlife,” but my personal favorite part is when the psychiatrist and Drac try to make each other get “sleepy, sleepy!” at the same time.
Signs of the times include Drac having a run-in with a threatening black gang that calls him a honky, The fricking Jeffersons in cameos, and Susan Saint James saying, “by the twenty-first century, homosexuality will probably be the normal lifestyle.” Not quite yet, Susan, but we’re getting there. Bwah hah hah!
ONCE BITTEN (1985)
The eighties were in full swing when teen comedy Once Bitten was released, which is why it’s so perfect: the fashions, the adolescent sex humor, the music.
Jim Carrey scores his first major role as a teen who can’t score with his girlfriend, played by Karen Kopins of Dallas.
Which is perfect for vampiress Lauren Hutton, who must drink the blood of young male virgins before each Halloween in order to stay young and beautiful.
Fun abounds as Lauren’s gay vampire assistant delivers one-liners, Carrey goes vamp and shows early signs of his comic shtick, his friends create gay panic while trying to check his body for bite marks in the boys’ locker room, and his girlfriend has a dance-off against Lauren at a Halloween party.
Plus, keep an eye out for fricking Megan Mullally of Will & Grace as the ticket girl at the dance. And for total 80s music geeks, the singer of the band at the dance is Maria Vidal, best known for singing the theme song to Body Rock.
VAMPIRE’S KISS (1988)
The funniest thing about Vampire’s Kiss is Nicolas Cage’s performance, which is pretty much a rule with all his movies, especially the dramas. But at least here his zaniness as a publishing bigwig who thinks he’s turning into a vampire is warranted. But the fact that he’s supposed to be a grown professional who talks like Bill & Ted is a clear reminder of why the only movie I will ever take him seriously in is Valley Girl.
Cage is a mess already. He sees a psychiatrist. He takes chicks home to bang—and you think it’s vampire night when a bat flies in his window during one conquest. Instead, it’s when he brings home sultry Jennifer Beals, who bites him. Hard. With her fangs. And keeps coming back for more. But not really, which we learn as the film progresses.
Cage uses his couch as a coffin. Believes he has no reflection when he actually does. Buys cheap plastic costume fangs. And emotionally and verbally tortures, harasses, terrorizes, and torments his assistant, played by Maria Conchita Alonso. It becomes an increasingly uncomfortable situation that comes to a tragic head. Dark comedy, I guess. It’s highly entertaining but it’s not exactly enjoyable.
However, the new wave song used during a club scene is the best. Sadly, it was never released on a CD as far as I know. It’s by the film’s composer Colin Towns, and it’s called “Tunnel Vision.”