Buffy Summers is an icon for badassdom – not just for women, but any badass. There are few characters conceived in the last few decades that are symbolic of strength and perseverance. Joss Whedon’s creation will forever be remembered as the tormented girl on late 90’s television, but five years before Buffy was ever on the small screen there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer the movie. Cheesy, clunky and a little bit daft, the 1992 movie is almost nothing like the successful series that was to follow. And yet…it still remains one of my favourite movies.
Before Sarah Michelle Gellar sulked across the television screen in flare jeans and questionable hair clips, Kristy Swanson played the blonde cheerleader turned vampire slayer. She’s different than the girl many have watched grow up on screen. The 1992 Buffy is brighter and sillier, but still lovable. So are her love interests. “Outcast” Pike (played by Beverly Hills, 90210‘s Luke Perry) acts as Buffy’s only support system as she goes from uber-popular cheerleader to conflicted vampire killer. Donald Sutherland plays the surly watcher and Rutger Hauer plays a camp leader of the vampires. It’s all very silly indeed.
But was Buffy actually a good movie? Well, yes and no.
There are a lot of unanswered questions and kind of ‘assumed’ reasoning for plot development – What does it mean when the music stops? I’m still not sure. The continuity about the slayers origins are bit shaky, and the dialogue is a but forced at times. The movie tries to play horror comedy, but it doesn’t always seem quite sure what one it wants to be and when.
Kristy is quite a good Buffy in her own right. SMG will always be the defining actress for most fans, but how could she not be after seven seasons on television? It’s a bit unfair of a comparison. But Kristy is probably the best part about the entire movie. She’s got enough sass to carry the awkward movie as well as anyone probably could. Her one-liners are always spot on with delivery that makes it plenty of fun to quote along with.
To make Buffy watchable, don’t ever compare it to the television show. At that time, Whedon was not the screenwriting giant he is today. The horror story of what happened behind the scenes is now a familiar one to most fans: the original script was rewritten and chopped to bits by Donald Sutherland, who apparently also had quite the attitude. There are some lines that survived are still very Whedon-esque (“All I want to do is graduate from high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die“) that makes the movie enjoyable.
For a rare few (me included), the movie came before the television show. Teenage me loved the movie so much I refused to watch ‘the other thing’. Now it seems absolutely crazy to me because the show means a lot to me, but I’m a fan that is still able to watch the movie with a great affection mostly because the two seem so separate.
If you’re interested, The Origin comic does a pretty nice job of adapting the original work to comic form. While Buffy lives on in her Dark Horse comic series, I still hope that elements of that original movie will make an appearance again in some form – I miss you and your motorbikes, Pike.