Not to be confused with the T.V. show of the same name; this is the 1992 film that the show sprang from. Buffy (Kristy Swanson) is a vapid cheerleader whose biggest responsibility is choosing a theme for the upcoming school dance. Then she meets Merrick (Donald Sutherland), who informs her that she’s the latest incarnation in a long line of vampire slayers. Before long she’s having a training montage, doing flips, and staking vampires like nobody’s business. Meanwhile, she’s falling for Pike (Luke Perry), whose best friend Benny (David Arquette) has just been converted to a creature of the night. Together Buffy and Pike go up against vampire Lothos (Rutger Hauer) and his boyfriend (er, first in command) Amilyn (Paul Reubens), before they drain the whole town.
This movie invokes waves of nostalgia for me. I watched it regularly as a child with my mother and my sister Leslie. I’m still mildly tickled when Pike outwits a vampire by shouting, “Look! Air!” then punches him. (My new favorite quote is spoken by Amilyn: “You ruined my new jacket. Kill him a lot!”) I still find the film funny overall; the extreme datedness only adds to the humor.
Something I appreciate as a more mature viewer is Buffy and Pike’s relationship—they’re equals. Buffy saves Pike’s life (e.g. his butt), then he helps her—there’s an “exchange of butts,” as Pike puts it. Their equality is further illustrated when they’re at the dance. Pike says, “I suppose you want to lead.” “No,” Buffy replies. “Me neither.” But Buffy is also very much a badass, for example when she flips a classmate for groping her. Interestingly the movie poster shows Buffy kneeling with a stake in her hand, and Pike hiding behind her, peeking over her shoulder. I also find it amusing that once she hits Merrick in self-defense she finds she has a taste for violence. And look, Hilary Swank and Ben Affleck!
I actually don’t have any gripes, besides that the Valley Girl cliché gets old after a while.
However, Joss Whedon seems to be making a statement about the state of affairs in our society, calling the setting “California: The Lite Ages.” Buffy’s classmates are clueless about the simplest aspects of environmentalism: “What do you think about the ozone layer?” “Yeah, we gotta get rid of that.” Buffy’s parents are also lax and inattentive, leaving her alone (and getting into trouble with her boyfriend) consistently throughout the film.
It’s pretty original for a vampire movie. Check it out if you’re in the mood for old school rather than emo vampires.