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8 Blood-Sucking Facts About 'Once Bitten'

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The horror comedy Once Bitten (1985), starring Jim Carrey and Lauren Hutton, tells the story of a 400-year old vampiress who feeds on virgins to keep her youthful appearance. Often revisited, the film had a decent showing at the box office but was not a hit with most critics. With Halloween and the film's 30th anniversary fast approaching, we decided to take a look back at the cult classic with a little help from one of the original screenwriters, Jeffrey Hause.

1. IT WAS JIM CARREY'S FIRST MAJOR FILM ROLE.0E4OIMY---Imgur.gif

Jim Carrey appeared in a couple movies as a young comedian, but nothing that would have made him a famous actor. In 1984, he landed a job on a sitcom about a cartoonist at an animation company called The Duck Factory, but the series was canceled after one season, which freed Carrey up to audition for the lead role of Mark Kendall in Once Bitten.

2. MICHAEL J. FOX WAS THE FILMMAKERS' FIRST CHOICE TO STAR IN THE FILM.

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Writer Jeffrey Hause campaigned for the Family Ties star to be the lead in the film. Sam Goldwyn Jr. of The Samuel Goldwyn Company was not convinced that Fox could carry the movie. Carrey was cast, and Hause said that it only took one scene to convince him that the young comedian was right for the part. “We had written a dozen sleazy L.A. bar sight gags into this scene—all cut—but Carrey just had to walk across the bar and look scared: Somehow he made that funny! Every line delivery was fresh and original, and he knew how things looked on camera without having to look through a lens.” For his part, Michael J. Fox didn't make out so badly; a few months before Once Bitten was released, Fox became a major box office force with both Back to the Future and Teen Wolf.

3. LAUREN HUTTON WAS NOT A FIRST ROUND PICK EITHER.

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Before the rewrites and The Samuel Goldwyn Company’s involvement, Hause and his writing partner David Hines wanted actress Elvira to play the Countess. Director Howard Storm wanted actress Morgan Fairchild for the part. The sketch above shows Hause’s vision for the bar scene in which the vampiress is introduced. “It's dark, she casts no reflection in the mirror, and a spider is stealing the cherry out of her drink,” says Hause of the composite sketch and photo. “On the right is Lauren Hutton in a much more glamorous bar than we had originally envisioned.”

4. JIM CARREY HAS BEEN FASCINATED WITH VAMPIRES SINCE HE WAS A KID.

More specifically: Jim Carrey has fantasized about vampires since he was a kid, as he explained during an appearance on The Afternoon Show in 1985.

5. THE TITLE IS A REFERENCE TO AN OLD IDIOM.

Blood-sucking films without either "Dracula” or “Vampire” in the title often find other ways to reference their mythic subject matter (see 1983's The Hunger, 1987's Near Dark, or 2009's Thirst), but the filmmakers decided to go one step further with Once Bitten. An early version of the expression “once bitten, twice shy” is found in a 1484 translation of Aesop’s Fables by William Caxton. The translation reads “He that hath ben ones begyled by somme other ought to kepe hym wel fro(m) the same.” Hause tells mental_floss that at one point the title had an ellipsis: “At first it was Once Bitten..—dot, dot, dot—which was probably a setup for a sequel, but I guess it didn't work with the logo they created.”

6. MEGAN MULLALLY HAD A SMALL ROLE IN THE FILM.

After a couple of small TV roles early in her career and a bit part as a call girl in Risky Business (1983), the future Will & Grace star played “Suzette” in Once Bitten, the girl taking tickets at the school before the infamous dance-off between Mark’s girlfriend, Robin, and the Countess.

7. THE WOMAN WALKING A LION IN HOLLYWOOD AT NIGHT WAS NOT IN THE SCRIPT.

Jeffrey Hause writes on his blog that in making the film more commercial and keeping with the times, the studio hired someone to create a montage. “It was a big deal in the 1980s to have video montages in every film. And this film has a terrible one ... one thing they added—and don't ask me why—was the image of a supermodel walking a lion down Rodeo Drive. We had nothing to do with it.”

8. THE HOLLYWOOD SEEN ON SCREEN WAS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THAN THE ONE IN THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT.

The writers intended for the film to show a much darker side of Hollywood. The head script reader for Goldwyn wrote in his notes that the project was hilarious, and that “the writers create a Fellini-esque vision of Hollywood that reeks not only of comic atmosphere but somehow captures and hyperbolizes our worst fears about the sleazy parts of town. It is a vision that balances precariously and triumphantly on a razor blade."

In an email interview with mental_floss, Hause shared the original title and direction of the film, and shared his thoughts on how the film turned out: “We had originally called it Nightlife, but Goldwyn didn't think it sounded like a comedy ... our draft really was about L.A. nightlife and trying to be a little creepier in tone.”

“I hope I don't come off as too mean-spirited or bitter on the website,” Hause continues. “I'm grateful and proud that the film was made and feel lucky to have worked with a true comedic genius like Jim Carrey ... I just have an idea of what it could have been (teens invading a vampire movie) instead of what it became (vampires invading a teen movie), but other people disagree and their opinions are just as valid as mine—thank God it was made at all!”

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How to Carve a Pumpkin—And Not Injure Yourself in the Process
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Wielding a sharp knife with slippery hands around open flames and nearby children doesn't sound like the best idea—but that's exactly what millions of Halloween celebrations entail. While pumpkin carving is a fun tradition, it can also bring the risk of serious hand injuries. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), some wounds sustained from pumpkin misadventure can result in surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to minimize trauma. Both ASSH and CTV News have compiled safety tips for pumpkin carvers intended to reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room.

First, it's recommended that carvers tackle their design with knives made specifically for carving. Kitchen knives are sharp and provide a poor grip when trying to puncture tough pumpkin skin: Pumpkin carving knives have slip-resistant handles and aren't quite as sharp, while kitchen knives can get wedged in, requiring force to pull them out.

Carvers should also keep the pumpkin intact while carving, cleaning out the insides later. Why? Once a pumpkin has been gutted, you’re likely to stick your free hand inside to brace it, opening yourself up to an inadvertent stab from your knife hand. When you do open it up, it's better to cut from the bottom: That way, the pumpkin can be lowered over a light source rather than risk a burn dropping one in from the top.

Most importantly, parents would be wise to never let their kids assist in carving without supervision, and should always work in a brightly-lit area. Adults should handle the knife, while children can draw patterns and scoop out innards. According to Consumer Reports, kids ages 10 to 14 tend to suffer the most Halloween-related accidents, so keeping carving duties to ages 14 and above is a safe bet.

If all else fails and your carving has gone awry, have a first aid kit handy and apply pressure to any wound to staunch bleeding. With some common sense, however, it's unlikely your Halloween celebration will turn into a blood sacrifice.

[h/t CTV News]

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13 Secrets of Halloween Costume Designers
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For consumers, Halloween may be all about scares, but for businesses, it’s all about profits. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $9.1 billion this year on spooky goods, including a record $3.4 billion on costumes. “It’s an opportunity to be something you’re not the other 364 days of the year,” Jonathan Weeks, CEO of Costumeish.com, tells Mental Floss. “It feels like anything goes.”

To get a better sense of what goes into those lurid, funny, and occasionally outrageous disguises, we spoke to a number of designers who are constantly trying to react to an evolving seasonal market. Here’s what we learned about what sells, what doesn’t, and why adding a “sexy” adjective to a costume doesn’t always work.

1. SOME COSTUMES ARE JUST TOO OUTRAGEOUS FOR RETAIL

A woman models a scary nun costume for Halloween
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For kids, Halloween is a time to look adorable in exchange for candy. For adults, it’s a time to push the envelope. Sometimes that means provocative, revealing costumes; other times, it means going for shock value. “You get looks at a party dressed as an Ebola worker,” Weeks says. “We have pregnant nun costumes, baby cigarette costumes.” The catch: You won’t be finding these at Walmart. “They’re meant for online, not Spencer’s or Party City.”

2. … BUT THERE ARE SOME LINES THEY WON’T CROSS.

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Although Halloween is the one day of the year people can deploy a dark sense of humor without inviting personal or professional disaster, some costume makers draw their own line when it comes to how far to exceed the boundaries of good taste. “We’ve never done a child pimp costume, but someone else has,” says Robert Berman, co-founder of Rasta Imposta, a business that broke into the industry on the strength of their fake dreadlock wig in 1992. Weeks says some questionable ideas that have been brought to the discussion table have stayed there. “There’s no toddler KKK costume or baby Nazi costume,” he says. “There is a line.”

3. THEY CAN DESIGN AND PRODUCE A COSTUME IN A MATTER OF DAYS.

A man models a costume in front of a mirror
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A lot of costume interest comes from what’s been making headlines in the fall: Costumers have to be ready to meet that demand. “We’re pretty good at being able to react quickly,” says Pilar Quintana, vice-president of merchandising for Yandy.com. “Something happening in April may not be strong enough to stick around for Halloween.”

Because the mail-order site has in-house models and isn’t beholden to approval from big box vendors, Quintana can design and photograph a costume so it’s available within 72 hours. If it's more elaborate, it can take a little longer: Both Yandy and Weeks had costumes inspired by the Cecil the Lion story that broke in July 2015 (in which a trophy hunter from Minnesota killed an African lion) on their sites in a matter of weeks.

4. BEYONCE CAN HELP MOVE STALE INVENTORY.

A screen shot from Formation, a music video featuring Beyonce
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Extravagant custom tailoring jobs aside, Halloween costumes are a business of instant demand and instant gratification—inventory needs to be plentiful in order to fill the deluge of orders that come in a short frame of time. If a business miscalculates the popularity of a given theme, they might be stuck with overstock until they can find a better idea to hang on it. “Last year, we had 400 or 500 Zorro costumes that we couldn’t sell for $10,” Weeks says. “It had a big black hat that came with it, and I thought, ‘That looks familiar.’ It turned out it looked a lot like the one Beyonce wore in her ‘Lemonade’ video.” Remarketed as a "Formation" hat for Beyonce cosplayers, Weeks moved his stock.

5. WOMEN DON’T USUALLY WEAR MASKS.

A man tries on a Joker mask at a retail store
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Curiously, there’s a large gender gap when it comes to the sculpted latex monster masks offered by Halloween vendors: They’re sold almost exclusively to men. “There just aren’t a lot of masks with female characters,” Weeks says. “I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because men in general like gory, scary costumes.” One exception: Hillary Clinton masks, which were all the rage last year.

6. FOOD COSTUMES ARE ALWAYS A HIT.

A dog wears a hot dog costume for Halloween
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At Rasta Imposta, Berman says political and pop culture trends can shift their plans, but one theme is a constant: People love to dress up as food. “We’ve had big success with food items. Bananas, pickles. We did an avocado.” Demand for these faux-edible costumes can occasionally get ugly: Rasta is currently suing Sears and Kmart for selling a banana costume that they allege infringes on Rasta’s copyrighted version, which has blackened ends and a vertical stripe.

7. ADDING ”SEXY” TO EVERYTHING DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK.

A packaged Halloween costume hangs on a store rack
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It’s a recurring joke that some costume makers only need to add a “sexy” adjective to a design concept in order to make it marketable. While there’s some truth to that—Quintana references Yandy’s “sexy poop emoji” costume—it’s no guarantee of success. “We had a concept for ‘sexy cheese’ that was a no-go,” she says. “'Sexy corn’ didn’t really work at all. ‘Sexy anti-fascist’ didn’t make the cut this year.”

8. PEOPLE ASK FOR SOME WEIRD STUFF.

A person appears in a skull costume with glowing eyes for Halloween
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In addition to monitoring social media for memes and trends, designers can get an idea of what consumers are looking for by shadowing their online searches. Costumeish.com monitors what people are typing into their search bar to see if they’re missing out on a potential hit. “People search for odd things sometimes,” Weeks says. “People want to be a cactus, a palm tree, they’re looking for a priest and a boy costume. People can be weird.”

9. THEY HAVE WORKAROUNDS FOR BIG PROPERTIES.

Go out to a party this year and you’re almost guaranteed to run into the Queen of the North. But not every costume maker has the official license for Game of Thrones. What are other companies to do? Come up with a design that sparks recognition without sparking a lawsuit. “Our biggest seller right now is Sexy Northern Queen,” Quintana says. “It’s inspired by a TV show.” But she won’t say which one.

10. PEOPLE LOVE SHARKS.

Singer Katy Perry appears on stage with two dancing sharks
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From the clunky Ben Cooper plastic costume from 1975’s Jaws to today, people can’t seem to get enough of shark-themed outfits. “We do a lot of sharks,” Berman says. “Maybe it’s because of Shark Week in the summertime, but sharks always tend to trend. People just like the idea of sharks.”

11. DEAD CELEBRITIES MEAN SALES.

A portrait of Hugh Hefner hangs in the Playboy Mansion
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It may be morbid, but it’s a reality: The high-profile passing of celebrities, especially close to Halloween, can trigger a surge in sales. “Before Robin Williams died, I couldn’t sell a Mork costume for a dollar,” Weeks says. “After he died, I couldn’t not sell it for less than $100.” This year, designers expect Hugh Hefner to fuel costume ideas—unless something else pops up suddenly to grab their attention. “Last year, when Prince died, that was almost trumped by [presidential debate audience member] Ken Bone,” Berman says. “He became almost more popular than Prince.”

12. THEY PROFIT FROM PEOPLE SHOPPING AT THE LAST MINUTE.

A man shops for Halloween costumes in a retail store
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Ever wonder why food and other novelty costumes tend to outsell traditional garb like pirates and witches? Because costume shopping for adults is usually done frantically and they don’t have time to compare 25 different Redbeards. “People tend to do it at the very last minute, so we want something that pops out at them,” Berman says. “Like, ‘Oh, I want to be a crab.’”

Weeks agrees that procrastination is profitable. “We make a lot of money on shipping,” he says. “Some people get party invites on the 25th and so they’re paying for next-day air.”

13. IT’S NOT ACTUALLY A SEASONAL BUSINESS.

A woman shops for costumes in a retail store
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Everyone we spoke to agreed that the most surprising thing about the Halloween business is that it’s not really seasonal on their end. Costumes are designed year-round, and planning can take between 12 and 18 months. “It’s 365 days a year,” Quintana says. “We’ll start thinking about next Halloween in December.” Weeks says he'll begin planning in May 2018—for Halloween 2019.

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