Friday, October 13, 2017

Movie Review: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992)

Director: Fran Rubel Kuzui
Year: 1992
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes

A high school cheerleader finds out she is the chosen one and that it is her destiny to rid the world of vampires.

Before becoming a wildly successful television series that ran for seven seasons, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was a cheesy early 90's vampire comedy. This original film version is directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui. It was only the second feature she had directed and it would turn out to be her last. After seeing some of her directorial choices, we can kind of see why it wasn't really her bag. As many may or may not know, this film is written by Joss Whedon, who would go on to write and direct "The Avengers." Whedon also created television shows "Firefly" and the aforementioned "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series. It should probably be mentioned that the film is Whedon's concept and is mostly based on his script, but it is said he was very unhappy with how the studio handled his material. What wound up on screen is apparently not his original vision.

This film stars Kristy Swanson as the titular Buffy, a vapid valley girl type whose main concerns are cheerleading, boys, shopping, and her social life. Her life drastically changes when she meets Merrick, played by Donald Sutherland, who tells her she is the chosen one and that it is her destiny to battle and destroy all of the vampires in the world. As her life turns upside down, she gets help from a very unlikely place, a drunk slacker named Pike, played by Luke Perry at the peak of his "Beverly Hills 90210" popularity. Also in the film are Rutger Hauer, Paul Reubens, Hilary Swank, and David Arquette. If you look hard enough, you can even see a real quick appearance of Ben Affleck in an uncredited performance as Basketball Player #10.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" winds up being a mostly goofy lighthearted teen comedy that happens to have a central plot involving vampires. It would be most closely related to a film like 1985's "Once Bitten," or 1987's "My Best Friend is a Vampire." Overall, it's a very formulaic comedy with bad acting and poor character and story development. That being said, some of the dialogue is over the top hilarious and we laughed quite a bit while watching this movie (whether intentionally or unintentionally so). So many moments are so ridiculous that they are hilarious. For example, the action sequences aren't well choreographed. They are so over the top and so poorly constructed that they are somehow entertaining. The technical aspects of the film itself are pretty abysmal. The poor audio quality is most distracting, and this is not even something we notice most of the time. Most of the dialogue clearly had to be looped and the re-recordings sound like they were recorded in an empty echo chamber room with high ceilings.

It's surprising how two properties with the same concept and even same title and writer turned out so drastically different. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" spawned one of the defining television shows of our youth whether we watched it or not, so to go back and see where it all began is sort of a trip considering how off-the-wall goofy this film really is. It's sort of fun to watch, sure, but the technical aspects are so bad that it makes it a little hard to digest.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 34%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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