I finally re-watched the Buffy Vampire the Slayer film starring Kristy Swanson last night. I hadn’t seen it since it came out in theatres in 1992. I liked it back then for its nutty concept – a vapid L.A. girl tapped to be a heroic vampire slayer – and for its over-the-top death scenes, low budget effects, and goofy ghoul costumes that look like they were furnished by a grocery store Halloween aisle in mid-October.
Whedon’s peppy dialogue – “Does the word ‘duh’ mean anything to you?” and “I’m fine but you’re obviously having a bad hair day” assured the film’s tone would be light.
But, over the years – you may have noticed- a successful television show with the same concept and the same writer came along and changed TV as we know it. I’ve read about a jillion times how much Buffy creator Joss Whedon didn’t like what Hollywood did to his baby. Apparently he hated the flm so much, he wanted to right its wrongs. So he brought in Sarah Michelle Gellar and the Scooby Gang and created a phenomenon.
Don’t get me wrong, Buffy was one of the best shows on TV even if it did spin willdy out of control near the end. But, last night, while my girlfriend and I watched the 1992 movie, we kept looking at each other and saying, “What’s so bad about it?” Wait – I should clarify: we know the movie is bad. But sometimes bad is good, right?
The one criticism I hear real Buffy aficionados repeat is the movie’s campiness. But, to my sensibilities, the camp factor was not so much higher than certain of the Buffy TV episodes. I thought Kristy Swanson was great. And, my god, Pee Wee Herman!! Er, Paul Reubens as one of the vampires?
Also: Rutger Hauer was a genius choice as the head honcho of the villainous vamp. 90210 hottie Luke Perry broke out of bad boy stereotype to portray the misfit who would win Buffy’s heart.
If you pay attention – or if you get on IMDB right quick when the movie starts like I did – you can spot some folks who went on to be Hollywood heavy hitters. I’m talking about future Academy Award winner Hilary Swank who was amusing as one of Buffy’s bratty L.A. teen friends and Ben Affleck looking young and hunky in those basketball shorts.
The only person who seemed incongruous in the movie was the legendary Donald Sutherland. Perhaps I’m too much of a Giles enthusiast, but Sutherland’s Merrick lacked any flair. (Apparently Mr. Whedon thought Sutherland was a problem, too.).
Have you seen the flick? What are your thoughts? Let me hear from the film’s defenders. Or haters.