As the titans of the entertainment world dazzle their audiences with their continuing sagas. It can be hard to reflect on their origin points, when they were untested ideas, just waiting for the chance to tell their story to the world. In the mid-90s, the public was entertained by the legend of a young high-school student who had to face off against vampires. This was her second outing, however, as four years earlier, the big screen saw witness to the same tale, told differently, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
When a young High School senior Buffy life couldn’t be more balanced. A meeting with destiny plunges her world and every preconception she had into chaos, as she is revealed to be the chosen fighter in an eternal struggle between vampires and the living. Buffy must adapt fast as the two worlds collide, putting pressure on herself, her relationships and friends, and all their blood.
A film is only as good as its cast and Buffy employees an entourage of stars from varying stages of their careers. A young Stephen Root makes an appearance as the principle, with every line and subtle action as hilarious as possible. Blade Runner’s Rutger Hauer’s head vampire, Lothos, is also the perfect blend of eerie and camp charm and this feeling is emphasised by his hilarious assistant, Amilyn, played by Pee Wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens. Buffy herself is played by Kirsty Swanson, who manages to have a different hairstyle and outfit in every scene.
The film’s fortuitous setting in the early 90s aids as much as the acting, with vibrant neon colours, classic dance anthems, and rock tracks populating the world of the teenage vampire hunter. It’s a world full of Jocks, Outsiders, Cheerleaders, and the occult that knows the character tropes well, yet still provides an interesting direction and an examination of those same characteristics. I want to give Joss Whedon praise for making a sympathetic and endearing character out of essentially a stereotype that would be reserved for one-dimensional, cliched personality, is a challenge, to make her the central character is something else entirely.
Fans of the T.V. adaptation should be made aware that there are some significant differences between the show and the film, and Joss Whedon has expressed dissatisfaction with how the film turned out vs. the original script. But the final film showcases a valid alternative direction for the story to unfold.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is what every horror comedy should be. Unnerving yet at the same time light-hearted and a joy to watch. Dancing confidently on the razor’s edge of side-splitting parody and an appealing tribute. If you’re looking for a lighter alternative to the darker T.V. series, or a mirth-inducing, stand alone, camp-tastic horror flick or just after any excuse for seeing Donald Sutherland play a vampire hunter trainer, then 1992’s Buffy is the film you should stake on.
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