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Love at First BiteLove at First Bite on DVD

Being bitten by a vampire may be no laughing matter, but that just goes to show how successfully Love at First Bite turned the concept on its head.

Because it’s a very funny movie that’ll tickle the funny bones of horror movie fans, assuming they have funny bones.

George Hamilton eschews his famous tan for a pasty, undead look in what is basically a romantic comedy that works on many levels. His Dracula is witty and charming, and is actually quite a sympathetic figure.

The movie opens with the Count in his castle in Transylvania, when the Communists of the day show up to expropriate the castle and use it to train Romanian gymnasts. With nowhere to go, Dracula decides to do what so many others have done over the years: move to America.

This isn’t just because he hears the siren call of the Land of the Free; he’s in love with a famous supermodel (Susan Saint James) whose soul he has encountered in previous ages. Now, the movie's now, she’s a typical 1970’s free spirit, which in some ways makes her more amenable to Dracula’s advances.

It appears the only thing standing between Dracula and his seducing of Saint James is her shrink/boyfriend (terrifically played by Richard Benjamin), who’s pretty sure he almost loves her but isn’t sure enough to marry her. Benjamin is hilarious. His character is a descendent of Professor Van Helsing, so he’s hip to vampires (or thinks he is until he actually goes on the trail to kill Dracula and discovers that he’s a tad mixed up – that a silver bullet won’t work on a vampire, etc.)

There are many wonderful moments in Love at First Bite, including Hamilton – in his coffin in the cargo hold of the plane bringing him to the US – using a reading light to bone up on things American that are hopelessly out of date. And Benjamin, in a straight jacket after yet another failed attempt to kill the vampire, trying to find a particular page in a newspaper using only his teeth.

And one mustn’t forget Arte Johnson’s hilariously terrific portrayal Renfield, Dracula’s bug-eating slave.

And like “Who are those guys?” in Butch Cassidy, Benjamin’s “He’s already dead!” almost becomes a motto for the film.

Does Dracula meet his usual fate of being killed at least until the next Dracula movie manages to bring him back to, er, death again?

We aren’t going to give that away.

The movie is offered in both anamorphic widescreen (16x9 TV compatible) and Pan&Scan on opposite sides of the same disc, which is the way it should be if Pan&Scan versions have to be inflicted on people.

Picture quality is very good. The image is sharp and bright and colorful and very easy on the eyes.

Audio is Dolby Digital mono and it’s okay.

Alas, there are no extras. It would have been very interesting to see modern interviews with the cast and crew, but what can you do.

Love at First Bite, from MGM Home Entertainment
96 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1, 16x9 TV compatible)/Pan&Scan (in one box); Dolby Digital mono
Starring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Arte Johnson, Dick Shawn
Produced by Joel Freeman,
Written by Robert Kaufman, Directed by Stan Dragoti


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Updated May 13, 2006