Buffy The Vampire Slayer Reviews
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
Hauer plays the main vampire villain Lothos. Vampires, as we all know, suck
blood, but Lothos never seems to get around to doing so, at least not on screen.
Hauer really hits the right notes in his performance as Lothos (even if most of
his scenes seem to have been left on the cutting room floor), and so it's a
shame that we don't ever get to see him chow down on anyone.
These days when you say Buffy, people think of the TV series, and rightly so. The series is consistently one of the funniest and scariest shows on tv. While it is widely thought that the series is based on the movie, that's not quite true. Joss Whedon, writer of the movie and creator of the series, based the series on his original script for the movie which is quite different from the filmed version. For example, there are often references to the fact that Buffy burned down her previous school's gym. But in the movie, Buffy leaves the gym relatively untouched. Luckily for us Buffy fans, Whedon's original script is being adapted in to comic book miniseries called Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Origin.
Enough digression: on to the movie. Buffy opens with the obligatory flashback to Europe during medieval times, where we see vampires attacking a serving wench who is not as defenseless as she appears. Fast forward to Los Angeles during the "Lite Ages", where a valley girl named Buffy (Kristy Swanson) lives a typical high school life. She's the high school's head cheerleader, she has a popular boyfriend, and she and her friends freely denigrate the less fortunate. What she doesn't know is that vampires have come to town, and that the weird dreams she's having are because she is one in a long line of female vampire slayers who are reincarnated from generation to generation. The slayers are trained by Merrick (the ubiquitous Donald Sutherland), who is also reincarnated every generation.
There isn't much more you need to know: Buffy trains to fight vampires, and the vampires choose the senior dance as the time to make their presence known. Romance comes in the form of Pike (Luke Perry), a bad boy with a heart of gold. The villians are Lothos and his lap dog Amilyn, played by Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens.
For people seeing the movie now, Kristy Swanson is put in the position of being compared to Sarah Michelle Gellar. Perhaps that's not fair, but what are you going to do? We can say this about Kristy Swanson: she can't dance. We were informed of this fact by a former cheerleader who watched the movie with us and spent most of her time snickering at Swanson's meager dance attempts. Swanson is, however, enough of a martial artist to pull off her butt-kicking scenes and a good enough actress to pull off Buffy's conversion from bubble-headed bunny to scourge of the undead.
Many of the supporting actors
in Buffy will look familiar. David Arquette, who seems to have been in every
film made from 1992 on, plays Pike's toady who quickly becomes a lost boy. Oh,
and let's not forget player number 10, who may or may not be Ben Affleck.
The problem with Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that it is supposed be both a horror movie and a comedy, but it doesn't do either very well. Whedon has said that the studio changed his script, reportedly to make the movie funnier, and presumably less scary. We suspect that most of the changes were made to the villains, reducing their parts quite a bit, because the subplot about the connection between Buffy and Lothos never comes completely into focus. Meanwhile the villains have been camped up beyond necessity, though Rutger Hauer avoids the temptation to be too silly until his last scene. Don't get us wrong: Paul Reubens' mugging of the camera, especially once he gets staked, is very funny. But Buffy the TV series proves every week that the humor is funnier when it is contrasted against serious threats. On its own, Buffy the Vampire Slayer might have received three lava lamps, but it so pales in comparison to the TV series that our estimation of it can't help but suffer.
. Review date: 02/08/1999
All Movie Guide
The idea of fusing teen sex-comedy and horror genres into a boffo box-office bonanza seems like classic braindead Hollywood-think... but somehow, beyond all reason, the makers of this film manage to pull it off. Much of the credit goes to director Fran Rubel Kuzui (Tokyo Pop) who chooses wisely to let the jokes and action rip by so quickly that viewers won't have time to realize there's practically nothing going on. Also excellent is Kristy Swanson as the bubble-headed cheerleader who learns from a Van Helsing-ish stranger (Donald Sutherland) that she's, like, the reincarnation of this pure female warrior and stuff, destined to rid the world -- or at least the Valley -- of vampires. No sooner is the Buffster being schooled in the ways of vampire butt-kicking (much to the consternation of meek pretty-boy beau Luke Perry) than the lead vampire (Rutger Hauer) and his leering cronies show up -- and leading up the pack is none other than Pee-Wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens. Fans of this film's popular TV offspring will appreciate the fang-sharp humor but may be surprised to find little evidence of the spooky atmosphere that permeates the series -- though there are some inspired moments, particularly the ridiculous death-by-ruler scene. Cavett Binion
Vampire hunting meets high school teen melodrama in this kitschy satire of 1980’s popular culture. Buffy Summers (Kristy Swanson) is a ditzy cheerleader who awakens to her destiny as a vampires slayer under the tutelage of Mr. Merrick (Donald Sutherland). After a rocky start she adjusts to her new lifestyle, juggling shopping, spirit rallies and combating the undead. Her opponents include Paul Reubens and her nemesis, Lothos (Rutger Hauer), while her fellow-student allies include rising stars David Arquette, Hilary Swank and Luke Perry.
Somewhat of an uneven comedy, “Buffy” does get laughs for the diehard commitment to the era when gauche fashion ruled and being shallow was totally rad. There is a generous dose of parody aimed at teen and horror movies, too, though the film often adopt the clichés it hopes tries to poke fun at. The writing – an early flexing exercise for Joss Whedon, whose fame would far eclipse the hack director – sometimes holds back from introspection and development to make room for memorable quips and quotes.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is fated to lurk in the shadow of its TV-based off-spring, a series that trumps the movie in almost every regard. Nevertheless, it’s a bit of a shame that fans of the franchise turn their backs on the first attempt since it has a shameless trashy charm of its own. Most of the faults lie with the movie’s glib tone, which failed to recognize the value of giving characters just enough depth to be relatable to its target demographic. Most Buffy acolytes agree that the less funny show is actually more fun, but you’ll still have a good time with the movie.
Age warning: not for viewers over 35.