Movie Name: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Release Date(s): July 31, 1992
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Buffy (Kristy Swanson) has a good life. She’s popular, has lots of friends, and is a cheerleader. She can have any guy she wants in school but is dating the head jock Jeffrey Kramer (Randall Batinkoff), the most popular boy in school. When a strange man (Donald Sutherland) arrives, he wants Buffy too, and he turns Buffy’s life upside down by revealing to her that she is the Slayer. Buffy is the latest in a long line meant to seek out and destroy vampires…but Buffy just wants to go to homecoming.
Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a vampire comedy written by Joss Whedon (who left the set due to changes in the script). The film was released to mixed to negative reviews, but later became the source of the critically acclaimed series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I actually liked the concept of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when the movie was released. It was a goofy combination of Valley Girl and The Lost Boys…but unfortunately it didn’t have the bite of either film.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer just tries too hard to be popular (like Buffy herself). The plot has so much potential but gets lost in the jokes and the very word heavy script. Because the story is supposed to be so light, the movie never has that sense of urgency…and even the TV series was able to get that balance right. Here, Buffy just seems to walk around and kill a vampire on occasion. It needs more spark.
The cast is pretty strong by today’s standards. Kristy Swanson is a pretty poor choice for the lead in that she has a hard time carrying the film (she replaced Alyssa Milano), but she’s backed up by a great supporting cast. Rutger Hauer and Paul Reubens are fun as the vampires and Luke Perry was playing a reverse of his 90210 “too cool” character Dylan. Stephen Root plays a principal and American Graffiti vet Candy Clark plays Buffy’s mom. Thomas Jane also has a small role, and David Arquette plays Pike’s friend. The movie features more cameos including Ben Affleck, Alexis Arquette, Ricki Lake, and Seth Green (who later appeared on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Oz). The movie is the first film role for Hillary Swank.
Visually, the movie looks rather cheap. There are few special effects in the film and unlike the series, the vampires just die like normal people. This doesn’t help the movie hold up much and adds to the problems of the film. The Lost Boys might have had a similar tones at points, but also had special effects.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer shows potential but fails. The movie was slightly retconned into the series with allusions to events of the film despite not truly being a prequel to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There has been talk of actually remaking the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie as a reboot…but let the vampires die.