Love at First Bite

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Love at First Bite
Love at first bite.jpg
Directed by Stan Dragoti
Produced by Joel Freeman
Written by Robert Kaufman
Starring George Hamilton
Susan Saint James
Richard Benjamin
Arte Johnson
Dick Shawn
Music by Charles Bernstein
Cinematography Edward Rosson
Edited by Mort Fallick
Allan Jacobs
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release date
  • April 13, 1979 (1979-04-13)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3 million[1]
Box office $43,900,000[2]

Love at First Bite is a 1979 horror comedy film directed by Stan Dragoti and written by Robert Kaufman, using characters originally created by Bram Stoker.[3] It stars George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin and Arte Johnson.[3] The original music score was composed by Charles Bernstein. The film's tagline is: "Your favorite pain in the neck is about to bite your funny bone!"


The infamous vampire Count Dracula is expelled from his castle by the Communist government of Romania, which plans to convert the structure into a training facility for gymnasts (the head trainer declares that it will include Nadia Comăneci). The world-weary Count travels to New York City with his bug-eating manservant, Renfield, and establishes himself in a hotel, but only after a mix-up at the airport causes his coffin to be accidentally sent to be the centerpiece in a funeral at a black church in Harlem. While Dracula learns that America contains such wonders as blood banks, sex clubs, and discotheques, he also proceeds to suffer the general ego-crushing that comes from life in the Big Apple in the late 1970s as he romantically pursues flaky fashion model Cindy Sondheim, whom he has admired from afar and believes to be the current reincarnation of his true love (an earlier being named Mina Harker).

Dracula is ineptly pursued in turn by Sondheim's psychiatrist and quasi-boyfriend Jeffrey Rosenberg. Jeffrey is the grandson of Dracula's old nemesis Fritz (sic) van Helsing but changed his name to Rosenberg "for professional reasons". Rosenberg's numerous methods to combat Dracula – mirrors, garlic, a Star of David (which he uses instead of the cross), and hypnosis – are easily averted by the Count. Rosenberg also tries burning Dracula's coffin with the vampire still inside, but is arrested by hotel security. Subsequently he tries to shoot him with three silver bullets, but Dracula remains unscathed, patiently explaining that this works only on werewolves. Rosenberg's increasingly erratic actions eventually cause him to be locked up as a lunatic, but as mysterious cases of blood-bank robberies and vampiric attacks begin to spread, NYPD Lieutenant Ferguson starts to believe the psychiatrist's claims and gets him released.

In the end, as a major blackout hits the city, Dracula flees via taxi cab back to the airport with Cindy, pursued by Rosenberg and Ferguson. The coffin is accidentally sent to Jamaica instead of London and the couple miss their plane. On the runway, Cindy finally agrees to become Dracula's vampire bride. Rosenberg attempts to stake Dracula, but as he moves in for the kill, the two fly off as bats together. A check drops down by which Cindy pays off her (enormous) psychiatry bill to Rosenberg, to which he remarks: "She has become a responsible person ... or whatever." Rosenberg keeps Dracula's cape – the only thing his stake had hit – which Ferguson borrows, hoping (since the cape makes the wearer look stylish) it will help him on his wedding anniversary. The last scene shows Dracula and Cindy, transformed into bats, on their way to Jamaica.



The film was a financial success, earning about $44 million[4] against a $3 million budget[1] and ranking at number 13 on a list of the top grossing films of 1979. In fact, it was one of the highest-grossing independent films for many years. However, critical reviews were mixed, and Love at First Bite has a 67% "Fresh" rating on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 21 reviews.[5] As quoted by Rotten Tomatoes, Janet Maslin described Love as "[a] coarse, delightful little movie with a bang-up cast and no pretensions at all,"[3] while Dave Kehr lamented the film's "hodgepodge of flat one-liners and graceless slapstick."


Year Award / Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
1979 Saturn Awards Best Horror Film Love at First Bite Nominated
Best Writing Robert Kaufman Nominated
Best Actor George Hamilton Won
Best Actress Susan Saint James Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Arte Johnson Won
Best Make-up William J. Tuttle Won
1980 Golden Globes Best Actor – Musical or Comedy George Hamilton Nominated

VHS and DVD[edit]

The movie has been released on VHS from Warner Bros Pictures on June 16, 1993, and DVD from MGM on July 12, 2005.[6] On the DVD version, the song played during the disco scene, "I Love the Nightlife" by Alicia Bridges has been removed and replaced by a different song.[7] Shout! Factory released the film in February 2015 for the first time on Blu-ray Disc (with the original disco song intact)[8] as a double feature with Once Bitten.[7]


Hamilton has been very eager to make a sequel to Love at First Bite. In 2009, he stated:[9]

It's terrific. It's all about old world school of Dracula in the Bela Lugosi 1940s up against the Twilight felons with humor, It's hard to do but it's great fun. I think 'Twilight' is a wonderful series of books. It's so important for these young girls with hormonal changes and this love that's worth giving your life for. But now I have to find a way to bring my 'Love At First Bite' character into that kind of story and make it funny and not be at all like 'Twilight' and I think I found a way to do that.

He later elaborated about the plot:

His [my character's] son is a sort of perennial student in California and he doesn’t want to acknowledge his father, Dracula, at all and he’s getting married into a family of televangelists. {Laughs} He met this girl that he’s in love with who’s a zoologist in a cave somewhere; he was a bat in this cave in South America. So now, Dracula’s forced himself to come to Hollywood for this big wedding and bring all of his relatives who are pretty ridiculous people. There’s a wonderful scene at the bachelor party in a strip club, it’s great stuff.[10]

To date, a sequel has yet to go into production.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b B is for Low Budget and Big Box Office Bucks, So Sam Arkoff is Proud to Be Called Hollywood's King of the B Pictures. Archived 2014-05-23 at the Wayback Machine. People Magazine. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  2. ^ "Love at First Bite, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Maslin, Janet (April 13, 1979). "Love At First Bite (1979) Screen: 'Love at First Bite,' Dracula's 'Plaza Suite':Full-Blooded Humor". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Box Office Information for Love at First Bite. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  5. ^ Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ Love at First Bite
  7. ^ a b “LOVE AT FIRST BITE” / “ONCE BITTEN” Double Feature (Blu-ray Review)
  8. ^ Love At First Bite / Once Bitten Double Feature
  9. ^
  10. ^ Interview with George Hamilton accessed 23 December 2014

External links[edit]