Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - 1992

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - 1992
Dir. by Fran Rubel Kuzui - 1 hr. 26 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

It's never a good sign for a movie if it takes two nights to get through it, especially when it's just shy of 90 minutes long.  It's not that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is terrible, exactly.  There are a lot of things that ease it's inconsequential nature, but it's still essentially inconsequential fluff.  And, for a film that was on the cusp of the 90's cultural shift, it finds itself on the wrong side of the dividing line.

Buffy (Kristy Swanson) is a cheerleader, one of those annoying, flighty, popular girls that drive all her male classmates insane.  She has a couple of odd run-ins with Merrick (Donald Sutherland), who tells her that she's the chosen one.  Chosen to slay vampires, that is.  As it turns out, there's a vampire infestation in her town, led by Lothos (Rutger Hauer) and Amilyn (Paul Reubens), and Buffy is, despite all appearances to the contrary, uniquely qualified to turn back the tide.

"Buffy" is, at it's core, a somewhat self-aware 80's comedy with a great title.  But, while I chuckle at the title and idea, that's different than enjoying an hour and a half of it in execution.   Part of the problem is the amateurish production; whether deliberate or not, the entire movie looks like an episode of "Kids Incorporated."  For a movie predicated on the slaying of vampires, the actual combat is laughably bad.  I get it, this isn't supposed to a be a big action movie, and that this is supposed to be a comedy.  Even so, if you're going to have a movie with fighting, it wouldn't take a ton to make it not absurd (or to make it so absurd that it's intentionally funny).  And the bigger problem is that even if you do so intentionally, making something intentionally bad still yields something bad.

The things that are fun about "Buffy" are a few.  Kristy Swanson is super-cute in this movie, and it's fun seeing actors in early roles (like David Arquette and Luke Perry).  For me, it was bizarre seeing Hilary Swank playing a valley girl; for some reason, I have a really hard time imagining that she ever existed as a teenager.  Stephen Root is fun in a small role, and Paul Reubens is a lot of fun in his role (particularly his death scene).  But it's all in service of nothing in particular.  Once you get past the amusement of a cheerleader fighting vampires (and these are cheesy as hell), the story doesn't lead anywhere.  The characters don't really evolve (Buffy aside, and then only a little), the entire situation resolves itself, and all in under 90 minutes.  It's bizarre that "Buffy" evolved into a longer-running TV show by writer Joss Whedon, because this comes off as a half-baked idea.  Maybe the years between this and the production of the TV show allowed for further development of the idea, but it's not apparent here.

1.5 / 5 - TV

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