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Film / Love at First Bite

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"I never drink wine, and I do not smoke shit."
Count Dracula

Decades before anyone even conceived of the first sparkly vampire, we had a Disco Dracula in this 1979 comedy film directed by Stan Dragoti and starring George Hamilton (!?) as the tannest Count Dracula ever to appear on film.

In the Present Day (or the 1979 version of it, anyway), the world-weary Count is evicted from his ancestral home by the Communist Romanian government and, along with his bug-eating assistant Renfield (Arte Johnson), travels to New York City in search of his soulmate, currently reincarnated as flaky fashion model Cindy Sondheim (Susan Saint James). In winning her heart, Drac must deal with bumbling assassination attempts from her long-suffering psychiatrist/quasi-boyfriend Jeffery Rosenberg (Richard Benjamin), who is "Fritz" Van Helsing's grandson. Assisting Rosenberg is skeptical NYPD detective Lt. Ferguson (Dick Shawn).


Much, much better than it probably sounds, this film provided the role of a lifetime for Hamilton, and the rest of the cast turn in excellent performances as well.

Hamilton has tried on numerous occasions to get a sequel filmed, but the concept remains mired deep in Development Hell.

Provides examples of:

  • Badass Cape: Lampshaded at the end, when Rosenberg and the detective agree to take turns wearing it to impress women.
  • Big Blackout: New York City suffers one of these during the climax.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: "Give me my fashion magazine."
  • Black Cloak: As noted, considered a selling point with the ladies.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The only corpse in sight, and he dies before the movie even starts.
    • He really shouldn't have drank the water.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Rosenberg knows how to pick locks using a credit card.
  • The Cameo: Isabel Sanford and Sherman Helmsley (The Jeffersons) play a judge and a preacher respectively, albeit in separate scenes.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cursed With Awesome: Dracula's general attitude towards life.
  • Disco: What's the best place for a vampire to explore Manhattan nightlife in The '70s? Why, at Studio 54, of course.
  • Dracula
  • Fake Nationality: An in-universe example: Rosenberg the psychiatrist adapted that name "for professional reasons."
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Drac's coffin accidentally gets switched with that of a deceased black man. The resulting funeral is memorable.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: In a comedic subversion, Dracula only uses these on men, even when faced with women who are being aggressively unhelpful.
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: "...and I do not smoke shit."
  • Intoxication Ensues: Right after biting a wino.
    Dracula: What was that maniac drinking!? Tastes like the Volga river at low tide!
  • Jive Turkey: More than one black character.
  • Kiss of the Vampire + Rule of Threes: Dracula has to bite Cindy three times to fully turn her into a vampire.
  • Mugging the Monster: "It's folks like you that give this neighborhood a bad name!"
  • Pocket Protector: How Dracula survived being staked by the original Van Helsing.
  • Pun-Based Title
  • The Renfield / Sycophantic Servant: "Whatever Master wants, Master gets!"
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The scene where Dracula and Cindy dance was originally set to the highly-appropriate Alicia Bridges song "I Love The Nightlife". In home-video releases, it was replaced with a generic disco tune. It was restored for the twin-pack DVD paired with Once Bitten.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: the central conflict of the story. It is first represented by the Count(Romanticism) being kicked out by the government(Enlightenment). Thereafter Enlghtenment is represented by Van Helsing. This being a movie that sides with Romanticism, the Enlightenment side is presented as dry, dull, and passionless.
  • Ruritania: 1970s Romania. "I think they're from the government (...) They're wearing shoes."
  • Running Gag: Rosenberg can never get his vampire lore straight.
  • Russian Reversal:
    Cindy's Agent: What are ya gonna do, eat your lunch in my office?
    Renfield: No, my lunch is going to eat you.
  • Shout-Out: Dracula quotes a line from the 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday:
    I am [Dracula] a great power — but I am humbled before you. ''note 
    • Multiple Roots references thoroughly date this piece.
    • "Didn't he used to be on Fantasy Island?"
  • Stocking Filler: Cindy fiddles with her garter during a therapy session with Rosenberg, to his great distraction.
  • The Taxi... Oh, what a wild ride!
  • Torches and Pitchforks: A mob gathers to harass Dracula as he departs his castle, although they don't do anything more than yell at him.
  • Überwald: ... for about 10 minutes.
  • Urine Trouble: Dracula appears at Cindy's photo-shoot, guard stops Dracula at the gate, Dracula changes into doberman and raises his leg on the guard...
  • Vampire Dance: He likes the night life..
  • Vampire Fiction
  • We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum: Rosenberg tries to confront Dracula by whipping out a cross — only he accidentally pulls out a Star of David instead.
    Dracula: I suggest you find yourself a nice Jewish girl.
  • The Woobie: "As for me, in a world without romance, it is better to be dead." Despite being a comedic character, Dracula has several moments of painful sincerity, owing to the movie playing its Romanticism vs Enlightenment themes with a heartfelt earnestness.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Rosenberg tries to shoot Dracula with a silver bullet.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: Dracula takes offense to being called honky... because he isn't Hungarian.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Rosenberg's rants about a vampire on the loose get him beaten up in an elevator, tied to an ambulance's gurney, and finally locked up in a padded cell in a straight-jacket.


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