Love at First Bite (1979)

My buddy Destro on Twitter suggested this movie to me after the first week of Horror Comedy movies. I hope he digs that this got picked.

George Hamilton has a way better tan than any Dracula ever, but that doesn’t mean the people of Transylvania love him. They kick him out of his castle to turn it into an Olympic training gym, so he moves to New York City hoping to find his reincarnated lover.

Just a warning before you watch this. It’s as 1970’s as it gets, which means that no one was woke to the fact that racist jokes aren’t funny. Or maybe they were back then and no one knew any better. Who can say?

Dracula and Renfield (Arte Johnson) end up in a hotel after their coffin gets sent to a Harlem church presided over by Reverend Mike (Sherman Hemsley). While the 1970’s have blood banks, free sex and disco, our vampire hero is about to give up when he discovers Cindy Sondheim (Susan St. James), a fashion model who he believes is his reincarnated eternal love Mina Harker. He battles Van Helsing’s descendant Jeffrey Rosenberg (Richard Benjamin) who teams with a New York cop played by Dick Shawn.

Isabel Sanford also shows up as a judge, as does Michael Pataki, which always makes me happy.

Here’s some interesting trivia: this movie featured the same makeup artist as the original Dracula, William Tuttle. That makes sense, as does Arte Johnson basing his acting on Dwight Frye in the original film.

George Hamilton bought the rights to this film and has been trying to get a sequel made that combines Twilight with Dracula and involves the son of the legendary vampire marrying the daughter of a televangelist.

Director Stan Dragoti was busted for cocaine possession on the way to promote this movie at Cannes. Don’t worry — he recovered well, making the movies Mr. MomThe Man with One Red ShoeShe’s Out of Control and Necessary Roughness before his death in 2018. He was also married to Cheryl Tiegs throughout the 70’s.

You can get this on a double blu ray with Once Bitten from Shout! Factory. Hey — we watched that movie too!

PS: For those that care about this sort of thing — like me — Michael Pataki shows up here as a mobster. Update your Letterboxd list accordingly.

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