“LOVE AT FIRST BITE” / “ONCE BITTEN” Double Feature (Blu-ray Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
In Scream Factory’s attempts to bring unheralded gems of genre cinema to Blu-ray, the company has also culled some of the most beloved, but more obscure, cult classics into the fold as well. Whether it be sleazy, insane or outright absurd, Scream Factory is giving these titles new life among their creepy catalog. And while sometimes this leads to some truly exceptional rediscoveries, it also occasionally leads to cult misfires as well, such as the Double Feature Blu-ray of Howard Storm’s ONCE BITTEN and Stan Dragoti’s LOVE AT FIRST BITE.
Of course, cinema is objective, and there is plenty to enjoy about both LOVE AT FIRST BITE and ONCE BITTEN, hence why they’ve had such a longstanding cult audience. However, both films are also incredibly dated, leaning closer to contrived spoofs than sincere-to-the-genre horror comedy. That’s not saying the laughs aren’t there in either film, but comparatively speaking, they’re much less earned and less genuinely funny as Scream’s VAMPIRE’S KISS / HIGH SPIRITS double feature.
Between the two films, this writer much prefers LOVE AT FIRST BITE, which almost applies a Zucker Brothers charm to a comedy that follows Dracula coming to ‘70s-era New York City after being ousted from Transylvania. The film plays on very obvious aspects of vampire lore, with George Hamilton humorously taking on the Lugosi-era Dracula as a man-about-town. While the film is incredibly hit or miss, with much more of the latter as opposed to the former, the clever laughs it does rile up do hit hard, especially those that come from the film’s secret weapon, a hilariously committed Richard Benjamin.
However, ONCE BITTEN doesn’t nearly fare as well, playing almost like a generic ‘80s sex comedy with a single horror conceit that’s neither smart in its horror or comedy. While the film is notable for its cast, which includes a very young Jim Carrey as well as Laura Hutton and Cleavon Little, the film is sorely lacking in wit, energy and chemistry, which makes even the most humorous moments either incredibly predictable or stale. If there’s anything that makes ONCE BITTEN watchable, it’s the film’s impressive production value, which allows the more vampiric elements to at least feel authentic in lieu of being actually scary.
Unfortunately, the disc also barebones in terms of special features, a surprise for a Scream Factory release in general although not so much for their double feature releases. But even with meager expectations, the discs only contain a pair of trailers and a still gallery, which makes the disc merely for collector’s and die-hard fans only. So if you’re familiar with either film, or enjoy spoofs with more than a little production quality in their corner, this is a dependable release; otherwise, the ONCE BITTEN / LOVE AT FIRST BITE double feature is going to leave you with a thirst for horror comedy that works.