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Film / Once Bitten

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Once Bitten is an American 1985 horror comedy film directed by Howard Storm.

A spoof of the "vampire seducer" genre, the film is notable as a very early vehicle for the career of Jim Carrey, who plays Mark, a sex-minded teenage boy in love with his girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins), a "good girl" who won't put out, keeping them both virgins.

Along comes the mysterious and beautiful Countess (Lauren Hutton), an ancient vampire who, every year, must bite a male virgin three times by Halloween to stay young and beautiful—but it's The '80s, and where is a vampire going to find a teenage male virgin in Los Angeles?

Mark, frustrated by Robin's refusal to give him any, goes to Los Angeles. The Countess spots him and decides to take his blood for her youth and add him to her coterie of immortal vampires. Robin knows that something's up—but will The Power of Love be enough to pull Mark back from the clutches of an undead seductress?

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The '80s: The film's setting and plot takes place in 1980s Los Angeles, where virgins to feed on are hard to come by for a centuries-old vampire countess.
  • Age Without Youth: The Countess' fate when she isn't able to drink from Mark the third time—in time.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Well, Affably Evil, in this case. The Countess and her henchman Sebastian are evil vampires who are very rich and dress well and live in a large mansion, but they're also very nice to potential victims and to those who serve them as loyal vampire followers.
  • Auto Erotica: Mark sees the parking lot of cars bouncing and shaking with other people having sex after he's gotten the cold shoulder from Robin. Ouch... just ouch.
  • Bad Humor Truck: Mark has an after-school job as an ice-cream truck driver—but his partial transformation into a vampire terrifies all the children away from him.
  • Blood Countess: The Countess is a rich female vampire who needs the blood of a male virgin by Halloween every year to stay young and beautiful.
  • Breakfast in Bed: At the beginning of the movie, Sebastian serves the Countess breakfast in bed—only, the Countess is a vampire, so she is waking up after sunset, her "bed" is a coffin, and "breakfast" is a pint of blood.
  • Camp Gay: The Countess' manservant, Sebastian, who is slightly swishy, into fashion (he makes sure she looks beautiful), and openly gay (an ironic Running Gag has him wait in her closet).
    Sebastian: I came out of the closet centuries ago.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Mark springs up from his bed after his erotic dream of the Countess ends with blood dripping from her mouth and her smiling with her fangs visible.
  • Catchphrase: Russ uses the same pick-up line three times in the film.
  • Celestial Deadline: The Countess must bite a male virgin three times by Halloween each year to retain her youthful appearance. Although she does drink non-virgin blood, this merely sustains her, not her looks.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The coffins inside the Countess' mansion. Mark and Robin vacate inside one to lose their virginity so that the Countess won't be able to bite him a third time.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The Countess, being an atheist, is unaffected by the cross.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: From the adage "Once bitten, twice shy."
  • Damsel in Distress: To lure Mark to her mansion for the final bite, the Countess has Sebastian kidnap Robin, who is held Bound and Gagged.
  • Don't Come A-Knockin': Robin finally realizes that the Countess will turn Mark into a vampire unless she deflowers him. Cue the bouncing coffin.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Robin chastises Mark for supposedly "losing" his virginity to a countess, despite Mark's protests that he was drunk, and "out of it", and couldn't remember anything that took place that night.
  • Erotic Dream: Mark suffers from these after being bitten the first time. Days later, he has one about himself and the Countess having a date which involves smoking, kissing, and footsie under the table. Until it turns frightening.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Aside from Mark, the oldest male virgin the Countess' minions could track down is eleven. The Countess is repulsed by the idea of biting a pre-teen.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Played with. Mark shows up at the costume party in all black, and everyone thinks he has come as a vampire, except Robin, who is upset that he didn't bother to be Jack to her Jill.
    Mark: I'm not wearing a costume!
  • Fountain of Youth: Blood from a virgin keeps the Countess looking young.
  • Funny Background Event: When Jamie and Russ are arguing in the Hamburger shack, Russ is cleaning off the trays into a big bucket labeled "Secret Sauce".
  • Improbable Weapon User: During the dance battle, the Countess threatens Robin and then attempts to stab her with an opera-length cigarette holder.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: The Countess' bite is enough to generate euphoria, strange dreams, and partial amnesia on Mark's part.
  • Mate or Die: If Mark loses his virginity before the Countess can drink from him for the third time, his blood becomes worthless to her.
  • Mistaken for Gay: When Mark's friends Jamie and Russ attempt to check if his inner thigh has bite marks, it looks like both are checking out his dick. The other boys in the shower think they're gay and flee.
  • Modest Orgasm: Despite it only being a ridiculously short amount of time, the coffin shakes vigorously, and then Mark and Robin emerge from the coffin, smoking cigarettes and smirking.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Once she has lured Mark to her mansion by holding Robin hostage, the Countess tries to kill Robin.
  • Nature Abhors a Virgin: The movie begins with Robin balking at going all the way, despite her boyfriend wanting to. By the end of the film, they have sex to save him from a vampire who feeds on male virgins' blood.
  • Offscreen Inertia: When last seen, Jamie, and Russ seem to have been seduced by two of the Countess' female minions, and the movie never gets back to them. Given what the Countess herself wanted from Mark, those two might have gotten a little in over their heads...
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Robin asks Jamie and Russ to check Mark's inner thigh for bite marks. They do this by Russ grabbing him from behind and Jamie getting on his knees and moving close in (he was half blind from shampoo at the time). Jamie remarks later that their lives in high school are over. He's not wrong, given the time.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Played for Laughs as Mark's transformation progresses. He stays cute despite the preference for fresh blood.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Countess needs a virgin's blood to keep her youth and beauty. She likes men, so it has to be a male virgin. But she only needs to do it once a year.
  • Out with a Bang: Inverted, as sex is what saves Mark's life. And dooms the Countess to being an old woman.
  • Poke the Poodle: About the only "evil" thing the Countess does is pushing over an old lady and a nun who were in her way—the latter of which was merely someone in a costume.
  • Precision F-Strike: Robin for the win:
    Robin: He doesn't want you, because you're mean and evil. He wants me, because I'm nice and sweet and pure. So fuck off!
  • Prison Rape: Lampshaded by Jamie to Russ after their attempts to check Mark for a vampire bite on his thigh in the high school showers goes awry and he sarcastically says that they looked like they were reenacting a prison rape scene.
  • Raging Stiffie: Mark puts a pillow over his lap as the Countess continues kissing him on the neck and biting the buttons off his shirt.
  • Rapid Aging: Once the Countess fails to get Mark's virginal blood in time, she rapidly ages, becoming a visibly elderly woman.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Countess is around four hundred years old, while Sebastian her butler is about the same since he knows her true age. Both look about forty at most, due to being vampires.
  • Rule of Three: To keep her youth and beauty, the Countess must bite a male virgin three times by Halloween each year.
  • Running Gag:
    • Russ getting shot down after his well-practiced come-on speech:
      Russ: I'm a mature person, and you're a mature person, so why don't we just skip all of the bullshit, get rid of our inhibitions and do what we really wanna do?
    • Butt-Monkey Jamie being afraid of everything from dating to being gay.
    • Sebastian, the openly gay butler of the Countess, hiding in her closet.
    • For reasons never explained, the Countess likes biting buttons off shirts.
  • Sinister Tango Music: The film opens with a tango number as Sebastian gets his vampire mistress all done up for an evening of hunting virgins.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: Despite needing a virgin "sacrifice", the Countess and her coven seemed to be in the middle of friendliness scale. As befits a light comedy, the death in her wake was a big ol' zero, and there were no morality shifts or ravening thirst. The Countess herself was pretty friendly for an evil seductress, and Mark's friends got on pretty well with two girls from the coterie.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Good girl Robin and Mark share an inexplicably appearing after-sex cigarette in the coffin now that she's been the ultimate good girl and given him sex to save his life. Also an odd example of Good Smoking, Evil Smoking.
  • Speed Sex: How Mark and Robin eventually render him ineligible for the Countess' attentions.
    [Robin emerges from the coffin, smirking.]
    Robin: You're too late.
    The Countess: [incredulous] You couldn't have. You've had less than a minute!
    [Mark emerges from the coffin, also smirking.]
    The Countess: You could have... [raises an eyebrow] ...but you didn't have time to enjoy it.
  • Vampire Dance: Robin and the Countess have a dance-off/tug of war over and with Mark—to a song called "Hands Off".
  • Vampires Are Rich: The Countess lives in a lavish mansion with a huge closet full of expensive clothes and a faithful chauffeur/butler who waits on her every need.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Or Sex Goddesses, in the Countess' case. Each time the Countess seduces and bites Mark, she leaves him in a state of ecstasy that ends with him passing out with no memory. Over time, Mark cannot resist the Countess' allure as he falls more and more under her power and dark influence, eventually causing Robin to intervene and take drastic measures.
  • Virgin Power: The only reason the Countess is interested in Mark—because virgin blood keeps her young and beautiful.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Not only is Mark a virgin, but so are his two best friends, not for lack of trying. A bookseller Robin asks about vampires makes fun of Mark, saying that if he's an 18-year old virgin, a vampire trying to get him should be the least of his worries.
    Robin: Could one of these lady vampires actually bite a guy? You know, like a teenage guy?
    Bookseller: Well, how old would he be?
    Robin: Like, 18.
    Bookseller: Well, I seriously doubt it. You see, the female vampire needs the blood of a virgin, and an 18-year-old boy would hardly be a virgin, now would he?
    Robin: Well, just hypothetically, what if he was a virgin?
    Bookseller: Well then, I think he has a lot bigger problems to worry about than female vampires.
  • Virus-Victim Symptoms: In uncomfortable places. After getting bitten by the Countess in the thigh the first time, Mark begins to suffer from strange erotic dreams. Then as the days pass, his appetite changes to craving raw meat juice and raw hamburger meat (as opposed to well cooked hamburger like he used to). Then his skin becomes pale, and his attitude begins to change. Then his reflection in the mirror starts to disappear.
  • We Have the Keys: Played with when the vampires are smashing their way through the Countess' mansion, looking for Mark. She finally gets fed up and reminds them that she has to replace every door they break, and have they even tried the doorknob? Sure enough, that door opens normally, because it's her house and not a fortress.
    Sebastian: Jocks.
  • Why Didn't I Think of That?: After an embarrassing incident in the shower, Mark asks Jamie and Russ why they didn't simply ask to look. They get looks of horror on their faces. Jamie assumes he's a Closet Gay while Russ tries to go with I Can Explain.