DirectorStan Dragoti/Howard Storm
Release Date(s)1979/1985 (February 10, 2015)
Studio(s)MGM (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: D-
Love at First Bite/Once Bitten is the latest double feature Blu-ray release from the great folks at Scream Factory. Love at First Bite was released in 1979 and stars George Hamilton as the infamous Dracula. Once Bitten was released in 1985 and stars Lauren Hutton and a pre-fame Jim Carrey. Both movies didn’t do well when they were released, but they’ve garnered enough of a fan base from folks who grew up watching them in the 80’s.
If there’s one thing you can say about George Hamilton it’s that the guy was charming, and he didn’t mind being silly from time to time. He’s pretty much the entire reason to see Love at First Bite in the first place. While I’m quite fond of his dual performances from Zorro The Gay Blade (and in general, a fan of the movie itself, which also needs some hi-def treatment), Love at First Bite doesn’t have quite the same... well, bite.
It’s basically a comic retelling of the Dracula legend set in modern times. Hamilton’s Dracula is looking for his long, lost love in the big city after being evicted from his castle in Transylvania. With the help of his assistant Renfield (Arte Johnson), they search the town, running into all sorts of silly situations, until they find Dracula’s love, fashion model Cindy Sondheim (Susan St. James). Meanwhile, her jealous psychiatrist (Dick Shawn), a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, will stop at nothing from destroying Dracula and foiling his plans for Cindy.
Of the two movies in this set, Love at First Bite is the more watchable of the two by far, but that comes with some reservations. This is certainly not one of the funniest movies ever made, nor is it one of the funniest spoofs ever made. It’s generally inoffensive but it doesn’t come packed with laughter either. I’m sure that the people who grew up with the movie (I’m not one of them) find it a lot funnier than I do, but that being said, I still found some nice jokes in there from time to time. There’s unfortunately a bit too much in the mugging department, and Susan St. James just isn’t appealing at all. If I were Dracula, I’d go after Lauren Hutton instead...
...speaking of whom, Lauren Hutton co-stars in Once Bitten with Jim Carrey in one of his first major film roles. In this vampire tale, Lauren Hutton is a sexy vampire lady on the prowl for young blood. With the help of her assistant (Cleavon Little), they find just the type of young blood she craves in Mark (Carrey), a young guy with some relationship problems.
Whereas Love at First Bite is more appealing, Once Bitten is probably more technically sound. It’s less of a spoof and more of a general comedy instead. Unfortunately, the jokes misfire most of the time and none of the actors really stand out as being particularly funny, especially Carrey and Hutton. Hutton spends her time just being a sexy vampire, which she’s very good at, ahem, but Jim Carrey just doesn’t seem right for the material.
But that’s not to say that there isn’t any merit to the movie whatsoever. As far as comedy premises go, this isn’t a bad one, and I did smile occasionally at some of the situational humor, especially concerning Carrey with his girlfriend and Hutton’s interaction with Carrey. But unfortunately, the movie contains just middle of the road comedy material, like a lot of 80’s horror comedies. That being said, I do adore a lot of 80’s horror comedies, but this one is at the bottom of the pile for me.
Love at First Bite’s transfer features a healthy if imperfect presentation. Film grain is varied, and doesn’t lend itself well to some of the darker scenes. Color is decent, with skin tones holding up fairly well (especially George Hamilton’s tanned skin). Blacks are sometimes good, although marred by the aforementioned grain, and contrast is at a pretty good level. There isn’t an overt amount of image detail and many of the images are soft, but it looks pretty good overall. There are instances of film debris left behind occasionally, but I didn’t notice any obvious signs of digital tweaking. The transfer for Once Bitten features many of the same issues as Love at First Bite, particularly the grain structure. However, the color palette seems to be much stronger with much more vivid hues on display than its counterpart. Detail and clarity are slightly improved overall, but not really by much.
The audio presentation for Love at First Bite, which is a single English 2.0 DTS-HD mix, is ample enough to support the visuals. Dialogue is clean and clear, and both sound effects and score have a nice amount of boost. There isn’t much in terms of atmospherics or directionality, but then again, this is more of a silly comedy than a technically-driven movie. It should also be noted that when the movie was originally released on home video, the Alicia Bridges song “I Love the Night Life” used in the movie was replaced due to rights issues. That has now been amended for this release. As for Once Bitten, again the soundtrack is a single English 2.0 DTS-HD mix, and is about equal in nature: clear dialogue and decent sound effects and score, but not much in the way of speaker to speaker activity. For both films, there are subtitles in English for those who might need them.
Love at First Bite Rating: C+
Disc Rating (Video/Audio): C/B-
Once Bitten Rating: D+
Disc Rating (Video/Audio): C+/B-
As far as the extras, it’s slim to none. Both films have their original theatrical trailers alongside them, while Love at First Bite manages to snag along its original radio spots. Being that this is a double feature release, a lack of extras isn’t much a surprise, but I would have liked to have known a little more about the making of Love at First Bite personally.
So in closing, Scream Factory’s latest double feature release ports over a movie I really wanted to have in my collection (Love at First Bite) and another that I just don’t care all that much for (Once Bitten). This probably isn’t the best treatment that these two titles could get, but all things considered, it’s nice to have them on the format anyway.
- Tim Salmons