Bluray Review: LOVE AT FIRST BITE/ONCE BITTEN & VAMPIRE’S KISS/HIGH SPIRITS

SCREAM-FACTORY-LOGOGiving genre fans a hefty amount of vampiric love for 2015’s upcoming Valentine’s Day, Scream Factory has done a great job deciding on a couple of double features that not only go for the neck (literally), but also leave you with a bunch of haunted fun.  The newly released double features of LOVE AT FIRST BITE/ONCE BITTEN and VAMPIRE’S KISS/HIGH SPIRITS are both a couple of releases that prove to be not only great and somewhat forgotten films, but also ones that showcase the talent of performers that would eventually go on to be huge A-list stars.

LOVE AT FIRST BITE/ONCE BITTEN

LOVE AT FIRST BITE/ONCE BITTEN

With the LOVE AT FIRST BITE/ONCE BITTEN double feature, we’re given not only an early performance in ONCE BITTEN from future megastar Jim Carrey, but in the case of LOVE AT THE FIRST BITE, a satirical look at the vampire subgenre, one that never takes itself too seriously. Plus, who DOESN’T like a movie whose Vampire lead has more of a tan than the whole cast of Jersey Shore put together?

LOVE AT FIRST BITE‘s plot is one that makes it impossible not to laugh at. Getting evicted from his gothic castle due to the communists residents of Transylvania wanting to turn it into an Olympic training facility, Dracula and his servant, Renfield are forced to leave the castle, and better place to relocate to, than New York? Once there, Dracula falls for the Cindy Sondheim, a model that Dracula believes is the reincarnated Mina (we all know the Dracula story, so there’s no need for explaining who Mina is). All is well, until Cindy’s sometime boyfriend, Jeff (the descendant of Van Helsing, who has changed his last name to Rosenberg) jealous as ever, tries his best AGAIN and AGAIN to kill Dracula. The film is full of silly gags, but the real charm in LOVE AT FIRST BITE is the constant feud between Dracula (George Hamilton) and Rosenberg (Richard Benjamin). Rosenberg does everything in the book to keep Cindy away from Dracula and fails so often, that it’s an ongoing joke within the film, with Jeffrey using silver bullets, the Star of David and everything else, to no avail whatsoever. While Hamilton has top billing due to playing Dracula, it’s Benjamin who steals every scene he’s, his character of Rosenberg supplies so many failed opprtunities to destroy Dracula, that as a view, you’re looking forward to the next stupid thing he’ll do next.

ONCE BITTEN is a film that should have made Jim Carrey a star, but unfortunately, the 1985 film didn’t do well at the box office and it took Carrey years providing memorable characters on In Living Color to finally give him a chance to hit his mark with 1994’s ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE. Playing Mark, a high school student frustrated by the fact that his girlfriend won’t put out, Carrey’s knack for comedic timing is perfect, even back in 1985, as he commands every silly scene he’s in. When mark becomes to the victim of a vampire (played the gorgeous Lauren Hutton), and gets bitten, he finds his world turned upside down, and begins to act different than he typically does, leading his girlfriends and friends to try to figure out what’s wrong with him.

It’s a hilarious film, filled with not only great performances by Carrey and Hutton, but also by BLAZING SADDLES‘ Cleavon Little as the servant of Hutton’s Countess character. It’s a comedy that came out in a time where everything wasn’t politically correct, so it does pack quite a few jokes that probably wouldn’t be put into a film today, but even with that said, it’s a charming little film, one that fans of Carrey’s later work should either revisits or discover for the first time.


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When HASN’T Nicolas Cage been a little weird? The guy either knocks his roles out of the park or ends up doing things that make him lose jobs (he notoriously insisted on playing a Rastafarian villain in THE GREEN HORNET, leading to him being replaced) , but despite all of the craziness that typically comes with Cage, films like VAMPIRE’S KISS are impossible NOT to watch. Cage’e performance is by far one of the weirdest ever to be committed to film, and the story of a seriously stressed out literary agent, one whose grasp on reality and himself are already on rocky ground, before being made even crazier by getting bit by a vampire (played by the lovely Jennifer Beals). Soon, Cage’s character is buying fake fangs, trying to bite women and hallucinating at the same time, giving the viewer a series of “WTF” scenes that could only be executed by someone like Nicolas Cage.

The film plays out like an artsy take on the vampire mythos, but is brought down to a humorous level by the casting of Cage. If someone else had been cast in the role, it could be a classic, but instead it’s one of those films that you can’t take your eyes off of, because it’s just SO WEIRD. What other vampire film has a makeshift coffin, made by turning one’s couch upside down?

*Supplemental features on this one aren’t very solid, but it DOES feature a pretty good commentary with Cage about the film. 

HIGH SPIRITS, though somewhat of an odd choice to be paired up with VAMPIRE’S KISS is a much different film, one that trades the odd in for the fun kind of supernatural film. Revolving around a few people visiting what is called, “The most haunted castle in Europe”, the film features Peter O’Toole, as the man trying to save his establishment by faking ghosts and having his staff wear costumes to scare the guests, but also Steve Guttenberg, Beverly D’Angelo, Jennifer Tilly and Peter Gallagher as the couples visiting.

Guttenberg plays the same kind of role he’s known for in the POLICE ACADEMY movies, and his disappointment in the “ghosts” residing in the castle is turned upside down, when real ghosts show up. The spirits in question are played by Liam Neeson and Daryl Hannah, and their murderous love affair is played out again and again, making Guttenberg confused. Soon, ghosts fall for humans and the humans fall for ghosts, which isn’t scary whatsoever, but is very enjoyable regardless. Scream Factory seems to be wanting to give laughs instead of scream this Valentine’s Day, and well, that’s fine with me, because all four films, though VERY different from each other, are all worth checking out.

While being quite bare on the special features, these two combo Bluray packs are still worth the price, and would make any SF fan happy.

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