Friday 12 November 2010

Obscurity Files #28 - Once Bitten

With the new version of A Christmas Carol out on DVD this week, I thought I'd take a look back at one of Jim Carrey's forgotten films. Today it's the vampire comedy Once Bitten.
More after the jump...

Mark Kendall (Jim Carrey) is just your regular teenage boy, eager to lose his virginity to his girlfriend. Tired of her declining his advances he hits the clubs with his friends, and when he's approached by an alluring older woman (Lauren Hutton), he sees it as a chance to get de-flowered and pick up some experience at the same time. Unfortunately for Mark, the sexy temptress is actually a centuries old vampire looking for prey that will allow her to keep her everlasting youth. Before he knows it, Mark is one of her legion of blood sucking vampires, leading to some questionable behaviour in front of his friends.
I imagine that when a young, hopeful Jim Carrey set off from Canada to seek his fame and fortune in Los Angeles, this film wasn't quite what he had in mind. It's strange to see such a scarily youthful Jim Carrey in a teen comedy (he was actually in his early twenties when the film was made) from way back in 1985, a good 9 years before his breakthrough with Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura and The Mask. This may be 25 years old, but Carrey's usual rubbery faced schtick is still in use here, albeit in it's infancy.

Despite being mostly terrible, it has all the hallmarks of a classic 80's movie...appalingly memorable theme music, dodgy fashion and a now mega famous movie star looking embarrassingly fresh faced and wet behind the ears. Carrey makes for a particularly gawky teen lead, part Patrick Dempsey but a bit more Anthony Edwards. He's definitely the best thing about the film, but isn't given enough opportunities to let loose the brand of Carrey mania. He's having fun here, but rarely lets rips like in his classic roles. The 80's were the decade of accidental vampires, but as this dream sequence will prove, Once Bitten has taken the camp gothic comedy route instead of Near Dark's brooding or The Lost Boys' trendiness.
Like all recent converts to vampirism, Carrey suddenly finds a better sense of fashion, combing his hair differently and wearing lots of black. His girlfriend suddenly becomes a lot more interested in him again, and he's more popular at school. If only the blood lust wasn't a problem.

Like all the best teen comedies, Once Bitten also has a high school gym set dance off (complete with Jim Carrey using his own leg as a guitar). To see crazy legs Carrey bust some moves on the dance floor is definitely the films highlight. If only the rest of the film allowed Carrey to let go like he does here.
It's interesting that whilst most 80's vampire films were using vampires as an allegory for the AIDS epidemic, this film decided to reduce the vampire myth down to a bunch of blow job gags. It's okay as a teen comedy, but like so many 80's films, would be completely forgotten if not for its now mega famous leading man. It does prove that Carrey should have made it big earlier in his career, but with this and Earth Girls Are Easy on his filmography, the 80's weren't so kind to him.

Save from Obscurity? NO (but I'll allow an amnesty for the clip of Jim Carrey dancing to survive on YouTube)

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