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.”
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.