"Once Bitten is a new sort of motion picture. Call the category 'pseudo-porn for pre-teens,' and stay clear of it. No, Once Bitten doesn't feature nudity and it isn't pornographic in the usual sense. That's what is so insidious about it."
The Orlando Sentinal, 18 Nov 1985

"Rated PG-13 for crudity and stupidity."
When you have a poorly reviewed film that debuts at number one at the box office, you get to read a LOT of criticism pertaining to your talent, intelligence, morality, and societal worth. The day the film opened I went to various newsstands, magazine shops (remember those?) and bookstores to find every review. After reading 10 or 12 ruthless pans, it just became kind of hilarious (I mean, I actually agreed with some of them—the ones that weren't insulting the actors' looks, anyway—but it was still overwhelming to be judged and blamed by so many people). The following are some of my favorites. BTW, as these reviews were written 35 years ago, I'm sorry to have to report that many of you critics are dead—either from painful heart attacks or lengthy, soul-crushing degenerative illnesses—or possibly even some sort of unexpected, spectacularly gruesome accident. It was very sad how you suffered. You will be missed. Anyway:

  • 'Once Bitten' Not Normal (The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana; 15 Nov 1985, p. 29): "Crude jokes—spoken and visual—seem to be the only reason this picture exists. The director (Howard Storm) and the writers (David Hines, Jeffrey Hause and Jonathan Roberts) can't find an original thought or piece of business, so they simply redo what they did before. The squeaking cars become a squeaking coffin. The hero runs through the movie in his shorts. The countess wears dresses with the fronts missing, or almost missing. Listen, we're talking amateur night in Peoria." (Weirdly, I think they could have used this to promote the movie.)
  • 'Once Bitten' is Bad on a Number of Levels (The Orlando Sentinal, Orlando Fla; 18 Nov 1985: "Though it masquerades as an innocuous monster-movie spoof along the lines of Teen Wolf and Transylvania 6-5000, Once Bitten is a new sort of motion picture. Call the category 'pseudo-porn for pre-teens,' and stay clear of it. No, Once Bitten doesn't feature nudity and it isn't pornographic in the usual sense. That's what is so insidious about it. The moviemakers have reproduced the tone, attitude and situations of porn. But they've packaged these qualities for a PG-13 rating, a designation allowing any kid with the price of a ticket to enter the theater unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. A neat trick, you say, but how did the filmmakers do it? Simple. They just substituted a vampire's bite for sexual activity... They should have called this picture Deep Fang."
  • 'Once Bitten'? No Fangs (The Washington Post, Washington DC; 15 Nov 1985: "LAUREN HUTTON has a space between her fangs as the vapid vampiress of Once Bitten, a sappy, sophomoric sex farce in which the supernatural's answer to Mrs. Robinson sucks the blood of virgin boys. Well-preserved for a 400-year-old who never gets any sun, the aging fiend must nonetheless feed from the thigh of a virgin teen to retain youth, beauty and that Cover Girl look. But life in the fast vein isn't what it was in the Dark Ages (or even the '50s), when uninitiated males did not have access to MTV—thus there was still a chance they'd remain chaste till the wedding night. Her gay valet—a tiresome role for Cleavon Little—consoles her with a tumbler of blood garnished with a celery stick. She moues thoughtfully. 'I came out of the closet centuries ago,' he minces, uttering one of the movie's many dated inanities. (The writers still think 'What's your sign?' is a good joke.)."
  • A teen-sex saga with a vampire (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 16 Nov 1985; p. 51): "Once Bitten, a silly teen-sex vampire spoof starring Lauren Hutton's cleavage, comes to us like a Halloween straggler -- one last pathetic trick-or-treater."
  • 'Once Bitten' lacks bite (Daily Record, Morristown, New Jersey; 20 Nov 1985; p. 43): "Lauren Hutton stars as a 400-year-old vampire only slightly older than the jokes in David Hines, Jeffrey Hause and Jonathan Roberts' screenplay, based on a story, such as it were, by a fourth party, Dimitri Villard." (Our drunk uncle review)
  • 'Once Bitten' Hasn't a Morsel of Wit (Hartford Courant, Hartford, Connecticut, 15 Nov 1985; p. 31): "Rated PG-13, this film contains lots of rather stupid jokes and sight gags having to do with the life goals of sex-starved teenagers and vampires."
  • 'Once Bitten' leaves a bad taste (Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona; 20 Nov 1985; p. 23): "Directed by Howard Storm, whose talents could be collected on the head of a pin, this feeble tale concerns a vampire played by Lauren Hutton who needs to suck the blood from a virgin male three times in order to... well, keep herself in some form of tippy-top vampire shape."
  • No Teeth in 'Once Bitten' (The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland; 15 Nov 1985; p. 30): "Just as there is no camera that doesn't love Lauren Hutton, there appears to be no line of dialogue that she is capable of reading without producing the self-conscious smirk of the imposter. Thus, the Hutton mystique, endlessly fascinating, at once majestic and poignant: In one incandescent being, the word's most beautiful woman and the world's worst actress... Alas, it must be said of the beautiful Hutton that she can't act, but she can't dance, either." (Note to Hutton: answer all fan letters, no matter how dweebish, because the dweeb may one day become a film critic.)
  • 'Once Bitten': dull bloodletting (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 15 Nov 1985, p. 30): "Once warned you won't want to see 'Once Bitten,' a thoroughly dumb teen-age sex comedy that's filled with stale gags, hokey gimmicks and attrocious acting. Its 2.2 laughs are spread evenly throughout a tame and extremely tired plot that seems as endless as a vampire's life is eternal."
  • Better Twice shy than Once Bitten (Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; 24 Nov 1985, p. 23): "Despite the beauty of ex-model Lauren Hutton and the comic ability of Canadian Jim Carrey, the picture has all the charm . . . of a dog bite."
  • Vampire bats zero in grim 'Once Bitten' (Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; 19 Nov 1985; p. 50): "Scenes of Carrey and Hutton enacting sexy blood transfusions are more sensual than funny and disrupt the more flippant moments that make this film work at all." (For all their implied superiority, it's amazing how many reviewers couldn't even get a vampire pun right.)
  • 'Once Bitten': vampire humor with no antidote (The Record, Hackensack, New Jersey; 15 Nov 1985; Fri; Page 60): "For all its innuendo, the PG-13 rated 'Once Bitten' lacks even the courage of its own vulgarity. A slackly-directed (by Howard Storm) pastiche of teen-sex and homosexual jokes, it manages to make the far-from-great 'Transylvania 6-5000' look vastly entertaining by comparison." (See comment, above.)
  • 'Bitten' is campy (The Times, Munster, Indiana; 24 Nov 1985; p. 24): "Cleavon Little glides like a cement swan through the part of Hutton's homosexual manservant."

  • Humor perks up 'Once Bitten' plot (Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon; 15 Nov 1985; p. 46): "Storm has a smattering of witty lines and a fairly clever situation, as well as some attractive performers in Carrey and Kopkins (sic)... Hutton looks a bit long in the tooth even for a 400-year-old vampire." (Even in a so-so review they have to insult somebody.)
  • Cliches add up to fun in 'Once Bitten' (Lansing State Journal, Lansing, Michigan; 15 Nov 1985, p. 18): "If one cliche is bad, then what do you get with two of them? Surprisingly, you get a rather good movie. At least you do in the case of 'Once Bitten.' 7 on scale of 0-10" (This was one of our best reviews.)
  • For more carnage on video, click here.

Once Bitten / Love At First Bite, combo Blu-Ray.
Thirty years after its initial theatrical premiere, Once Bitten was released on Blu-Ray, paired with Love At First Bite by the specialty company 'Shout! Factory' on February 10, 2015. It debuted at #8 on the Amazon comedy charts, #5 in the horror charts, and #5 in the romance charts (!). Critics were much kinder this time, as well (for the most part, anyway):

  • Geekscape: "It's undeniable that Once Bitten is a classic for a reason."
  • SyFy: Once Bitten's Countess is the Femme Dracula We Need: "In 1985, American cinema struck it big with the release of cult classics like The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and Weird Science. But in between these gems was a hidden jewel called Once Bitten starring a very young Jim Carrey and sultry model-turned-actress Lauren Hutton as the bloodsucker seeking her next big score."
  • Hellnotes: "Once Bitten is a thoroughly 80s film, and that alone kicks it up a few rungs on my appreciation ladder. If I usually like comedies (and movies in general) from the 1970s, I usually love them from the 1980s. This oh so silly slice of cinema is no exception."
  • DVD Talk: "Lots of dirty jokes and sex references are scattered throughout the movie, some goofy double-entendres, and plenty of eighties colors and fashions keep it fun."
  • Mania: "This is one of those eighties classics that launched a star. Jim Carrey had been in a few things up to this point, but it is the role of Mark, the eighteen year old virgin, that launched his career."
  • Hutton & Carrey
    "I would have loved to have seen 'Once Bitten' get its own blu-ray release with bonus content." (I'm ready for my interview, MGM)

  • Icons of Fright: "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."
  • KeepItClassic.com: "I have always been a fan of 'Once Bitten' and maybe it is nostalgic reasons since my very first date as a kid was at the movies, seeing that very film. Who would have thought that is would take start Jim Carrey almost a decade to actually become a break-out star with 'Ace Ventura'? Although I would have loved to have seen 'Once Bitten' get its own blu-ray release with bonus content, I am happy to have a 1080p version available, even if is only as a combo with another film."
  • WhySoBlu: "The film does have some really good humor in it, and good ideas. It's never ridiculously funny, but there's a sort of charm I found and would definitely pop this one in again sometime." (Three stars)