If you asked me to compare 2014 or 15 with 2010, I could tell you some things that are different, but primarily, I just think there is more stuff, some better technology and the fact that the line-up of famous people have changed around a bit. Now, compare this to the difference between 1992 and 1997. Why these years? Because in 1992, Buffy The Vampire Slayer was introduced to the world through a movie, and then in 1997 it was practically rebooted into the cult teen horror flick that’s still fresh, even if it has visually become a product of its time. But we’ll talk about the show properly some other time, this is about the movie.
Set in modern day (1992) Los Angeles, written by a young and unknown Joss Whedon (in 20 B.A. Before Avengers) and directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui (who later worked as an executive producer for the Buffy spin-off, Angel), the Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie is a product of the studios, much more so than a product of Joss, whose vision of the movie was closer to what the TV show would become (much darker). Which would possibly help explain why there is almost little to no comparison between the 2. Our film’s protagonist is Buffy Summers (played by Kristy Swanson) who is a cheerleader, and appears to be a bit of a Mean Girl/Heather/Popular Girl who hangs out with 3 other popular, fashion-focused girls, including a 17 year old Hilary Swank. She is approached several times by some Noir-looking old man named Merrick (played by Donald Sunderland) who is a watcher, and calls it his duty in life to train the Slayer to fight Vampires. She eventually accepts, starts to show off her new-found strength (accidentally), and in time she begins to become distant from her usual group of friends. Meanwhile, a head vampire named Lothos (played by Bladerunner’s Roy Batty, Rutger Hauer, who looks like Keith Lemon’s Dad in this) tries to take over Los Angeles with the help of Amilyn (played by Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman, a year after being caught in that theatre), and in time, with the help of Oliver Pike (played Luke Perry) Buffy basically tries to save the city…and that’s it.
Is there a difference between the movie and show in terms of presentation? What do you think? The Vampires are like older siblings trying to scare their younger siblings while hearing a pair of vampire teeth from a corner shop at halloween and false ears that are clearly based on Count Orlok from Nosferatu. Some of the casting choices are hilarious, including, believe it or not, David Arquette as a drugged-up grunge vampire, Luke Perry as his drugged-up down and out friend who falls for Buffy. And in uncredited roles, Ben Affleck plays an unnamed high school basketball player, and Seth Green appears as a Vampire (rather than a werewolf, wink wink). I have respect for Donald Sunderland and Rutger Hauer as actors, but they were basically on auto-pilot here, and perhaps either did it for a bit of fun, or because they didn’t have much going on at the time. Also, the Vampires die like humans in this, rather than turn to ash like in the series…a bit underwhelming. Story-wise, the character who did put a smile on my face was Stephen Root as Gary Murray, 1 of Buffy’s teachers, who openly admits to going to Woodstock, taking pot, and seems a bit like a William Atherton as Walter Peck archetype who is trying to understand his students…He was the best part of the film.
1992. These were the days of jorts, fluorescent colour schemes, white T-shirts, flannel shirts, big, frizzy, fluffy or greasy hair, construction boots, giant trainers and all-denim…And it’s good to know some of it has come back. Around this time, Kurt Cobain’s popularity was white hot, The Fresh Fresh Of Bel Air and Saved By The Bell were being made, Grove Street and the Ballas were at war, and Francis Ford Coppola had done his take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman. What am I trying to get at? While the Buffy TV show is a product of its time, it’s still fresh because of its dialogue, humour and themes. The movie however, will forever stay in 1992 in the same way Vanilla Ice’s film Cool As Ice will stay in 1991. It is something that you put into a time capsule, to be dug up eventually and reminded of that year. for better or worse.
Would I recommend this film? Only for curiosity’s sake. The difference between it and the show is almost like comparing the taste of strong coffee and bland tea, the gap is enormous. Overall the film has little to nothing to offer, other than an amusing choice in cast and presumably some jokes Whedon wrote that made it into the final product. The acting is mostly awful. Even Donald Sunderland, Stephen Root and Rutger Hauer couldn’t rescue it. The script and editing is primarily shallow, predictable, and has become incredibly dated due to its attempts to be “with it”. The monster make-up is an absolute joke in contrast to the Vampire faces in Sunnydale. The music is once again “with it” with the exception of some heavy metal that doesn’t really date that much. It’s about as scary as The Muppets (the Buffy TV show at least had some menace and intimidating make-up from time to time), and if you’re looking to watch the show for the first time, this film is not necessary viewing beforehand.
Acting: 1/2* out of 5
Characters: 1/2* out of 5 (with the exception of Gary Murray)
Music: *3/4 out of 5
Story: DUD out of 5
Cinematography: *1/4 out of 5
Overall: 3/4* out of 5