Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Kicking Undead Butt Since 1992

No, the OTHER Buffy. The movie. Yes, there was a movie. In 1992. About eight people saw it, and half of them hated it.

I am not one of the haters.

This Buffy the Vampire Slayer, played by Kristy Swanson, is almost like a first draft of the television series. Every once in a while you see glimpses of what the t.v. Buffy will be like. It’s interesting for the aficionado.

This Buffy also stands on her own. She isn’t as conflicted and angst-ridden as her television incarnation, true. But she’s not going for the Joss Whedon painful teen drama award. She’s just trashing vamps and saving the damsel in distress, who is played by Luke Perry. Yes, Luke Perry. Also Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer, Paul Reuben, and a young Hilary Swank as a preppy wanna-be cheerleader with big hair.

So yeah, it’s cotton candy, but it’s fun. Buffy starts off as an airhead, living the rich girl life of shopping and Christian Slater movies. A mysterious man shows up and tells her she has a destiny… and you probably know the rest. Goodbye the girl who doesn’t react when her boyfriend’s best friend says “I don’t mean to sound sexist or anything, but can I borrow her?” Hello to the girl who spends her time training for battle, then slams the aforementioned jock into a locker when he tries an unwelcome grab. Very satisfying.

When she takes on the vampires, forget screaming for help or collapsing in a heap from one blow. In a refreshing turn of the tables, Luke Perry’s character Pike is the one with the fainting problem. When they give chase to some vamps, Buffy steals a biker’s ride, while Pike has a scooter. He’s the sidekick, no doubt about it, but he does lend a hand (or a jacket) when she’s in trouble. And they still get to dance at the prom:

Pike: “I suppose you want to lead.”

Buffy: “No.”

Pike: “Me neither.”

Buffy: “This is a good thing.”

Sidekick, sure, but also the beginning of a good relationship.

The movie does have weaknesses. I’m so over the “one person of color, and it’s the girl who stabs you in the back” casting thing. Been there, done that, let’s move on. (If we ever find an action film that handles race and gender well, I think we’ll have to add another level to our ratings scale.)

I also have to deduct points for the the stupid use of Buffy’s cramps as a vampire detector. The “natural reaction to their unnaturalness” line used to explain this plot device is appalling. Thank goodness this was left out of Buffy 2.0.

Overall, though, I give Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4 stars. You may not like the campy comedy, but this Buffy is 100% heroine content.

This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.

4 thoughts on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Kicking Undead Butt Since 1992

  1. Hazel

    Thanks for an excellent review of the original “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” which I only saw after seeing the series and reading nothing but negativity about it. I rather liked it and I’m glad to see that you do too because this is a thoughtful and thought provoking blog.

    Reply
  2. Ide Cyan

    I like the Buffy movie a lot, too. There’s a scene near the end where Pike tells Buffy, “You’re not like other girls”, and she replies “Yes, I am”. It’s quite a contrast from the scene in the TV episode “Halloween”, where Buffy’s big ego-boosting moment has Angel dissing the women he knew when he was human by saying: “I hated the girls back then. Especially the noble women (…) They were just incredibly dull. Simpering morons, the lot of them. I always wished I could meet someone… exciting. Interesting.” Way to build up Buffy’s fragile ego by making a misogynist statement there, Angel.

    Reply
  3. Tessa

    I first saw this movie when I was nine or ten, and it still has a special place in my heart (though I prefer the TV version, overall). I actually have a Slayer-mole, and spent weeks running around pretending I was entirely the Chosen One. Buffy was probably the first female character I ever wanted to be – up until that point I had stuck with playing guys, as they always seemed to have more interesting stuff to do.

    Reply

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