Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on May 06th, 2021 | Movie Review | Comedy, Vampire, Campy, Teen

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It’s about a high school girl who has been chosen to stand against all the demons and vampires prowling about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was written by Joss Whedon (who also penned The Cabin in the Woods) and directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui (director of Tokyo Pop). It stars Kristy Swanson (who also appeared in Flowers in the Attic) as Buffy, Donald Sutherland (from Virus), Paul Reubens (of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure), Stephen Root (Monkey Shines), the late Rutger Hauer (The Hitcher), the late Luke Perry (tv’s Beverly Hills 90210), Hilary Swank (The Reaping), and David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks).

Will this superficial Valley Girl realize her true destiny as a “slayer?”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Review

When Reverend Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his fiancée left the safety of New York harbor to return to his Nazi Germany, he knew it was a risky venture. Indeed, it cost him his life. The Gestapo hanged him, nude, in April of 1945, just as American tanks rolled into Berlin. Bonhoeffer had claimed, “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” His destiny was to be a warrior against evil.

Such is the destiny of blonde American cheerleader Buffy Summers, but initially, she has no clue. No moral compass. Only cute outfits.

Anyone venturing into the YA market will have a single piece of advice hammered into them: “Teens respond to stories in which the hero finds a place to belong.” The place might be in the muscular arms of a handsome partner. It might be with the “in” crowd. It might be a reconciliation with parents. But it’s always about belonging.

The same tried and true formula is woven through Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but in singular style. Buffy learns how to belong by discovering who she really is. She is a vampire slayer, one in a long line; a role which has chosen her, rather than the reverse. Her destiny has been pre-mapped. It’s quite a conservative, traditional message. Buffy wields a teleological sword in a very bad-ass sort of way.

She even picks up a skinny-armed boyfriend along the way, though her cadre of stuck-up friends mostly get left behind.

Interestingly, the weakest performance in Buffy is from the film’s most high-profile star, Donald Sutherland, who plays Buffy’s “watcher.” He seems to reconsider and rethink each line as he mutters it. It’s uninspiring and odd. On the other hand, Paul Reubens is totally on fire in the role of Amilyn.

Like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Buffy Summers locates her destiny, stakes a claim to it (ha!), and pursues it doggedly. But unlike Bonhoeffer, she’s a survivor. Five years later, Joss Whedon reanimated his vampire slayer with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the lead role in a darker, smarter, and markedly less goofy television series which ran for seven seasons – spinning off the underappreciated Angel and a number of Dark Horse comic books.

Worth Watching?

Oh my, yes. It’s your destiny.

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