Love at First Bite (1979)

Article 5400 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-21-2017
Directed by Stan Dragoti
Featuring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin
Country: USA
What it is: Vampire comedy

After being thrown out of his castle in Transylvania, Dracula travels to New York City to meet a model with whom he’s fallen in love, unaware that her therapist and current lover is a descendant of Van Helsing.

This may not be a great horror comedy, but it’s a good one. In fact, I’m surprised it works as well as it does, but much of the credit goes to George Hamilton (whose performance as Dracula is smooth and assured) and Susan Saint James (who adds some nice touches to her characterization). Neither of these performers overacts (which could have been a great temptation for the character of Dracula in particular), and it’s their work that keeps the movie on the even keel it needs to be for the humor to work. Even the slightly hammier performance by Arte Johnson as Renfield works well; only Richard Benjamin’s performance as the therapist seems overly broad. This is one of those movies that could have very easily gone off the rails if a sense of desperation had crept in, but that never happens. It could have used a few more solid laughs, and it runs out of steam towards the end, but it manages to avoid being annoying. I even like it enough that I won’t dock it for having a scene in a disco, though it helps that the song is well chosen and the dancing is fun.


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