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BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 1992
Movie Review

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BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER MOVIE POSTER
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 1992
Movie Reviews

Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui
Starring: Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, Donald Sutherland
Review by Sarah Evans



SYNOPSIS:

Say hello to Buffy Summers; the epitome of what every teenage girl desires to be. When you're head of the cheerleading team and the trendiest/prettiest girl in high school can a life other than that really compare? Not unless you're destined for something else. After she encounters a man from her ancestral past, Buffy soon realizes that her life isn't just about cheerleading practice and cute leather jackets -- it's also about slaying blood hungry vampires (without ruining her manicure of course). Now Buffy has to drop her pom poms in exchange for fighting rabid demons headed straight towards her senior prom!

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REVIEW:

It's 1992 in Mission Viejo, California and of course if you're popular and either a jockey basketball player or ditzy valley girl, you are, like, totally psyched for prom! So in other words, it would be more than appropriate to kick off senior year in this film with sweaty, determined young men hustling it up on the b-ball court and a group of girls performing a full fledged cheerleading routine. It's the perfect set up for a stereotypical highschool setting where a sporting occasion was the place to be and be seen. Kristy Swanson, who plays Buffy Summers the popular, yet completely air-headed, lead of the Hemery High Hogs cheerleading squad dominates the film's intro showing off her sex appeal and sharp athleticism skills with a long drawn out cheer. The cheer sequence is interwoven with the nervous sentimental ramblings of a guidance-counselor-made-coach trying to lead the team to victory. It's just like any regular day in high school.

After the game, Buffy and her cheerleading counter-parts hit the mall to complain about bogus test results and check out clothes that aren't "sooo last week". When the girls pile into the elevator on the way to the movie theatre, Buffy has a brief but poignant exchange of glances with a mysterious looking man, Merrick (played by the equally mysterious looking Donald Sutherland) almost as though she recognizes him from somewhere. The moment is fleeting, however, and the girls end up at the movies and annoy the hell out of a couple of stoners, Pike and Benny, (played by Luke Perry and David Arquette) with their incessant chatter. Little do all of them realize that their time of innocence is running short and something completely beyond their social status awaits.

The popular crowd part ways for the evening leaving the stoners to continue their path to intoxication. Buffy and her boyfriend, Jeffrey, who naturally is captain of the basketball team make plans to meet later on. In the meantime, another basket ball player and fellow member of the popular club, strolls home nervously on his own, irked by the strange low hissing whispers that seem to be following him. Eventually, the inevitable happens and the poor teen is attacked by Amilyn, who is the deviant side-kick to head vampire Lothos and is played by Paul Reubens. One would almost half expect it to be Reubens' famous character Pee Wee Herman, but isn't that terrifying enough as it is? The same night, one our young stoners shares the same fate during their quest to no where. Pike passes out and is saved by the elusive Merrick, Buffy’s man from the elevator, while Benny is claimed by Pee Wee- I mean- Amilyn. Later on that night, we enter Buffy's dream world where she appears as a peasant girl dealing with the powerful and mighty Lothos, but, before anything can erupt, Buffy awakens from her nightmare in a panic, holding her nice doily duvet closer for comfort.

As time proceeds, the teens don't seem to notice the gradual disappearance of their own clan members, but rather, are much more consumed with other ongoing issues such as prom... and prom. The next valuable scene arises after Buffy's cheerleading practice when she is waiting for a friend (ie. Doing a succession of acrobatic tumbles like any normal person who is waiting would) and comes face to face with, Merrick. He informs her of her birth right as a vampire slayer, which she immediately dismisses until he mentions details of her demon infested dreams. At this point she agrees to accompany him to an eerie grave yard for a true test of destiny – to guard humanity from evil. At which point she discovers that she really is "the chosen" one and must dedicate herself to intense physical and mental training in order to rise against the burgeoning teen vampire population in Mission Viejo.

As Buffy dedicates her time to prepare herself for a blood-sucking invasion, her popularity status and her relationship begin to plummet. The only people she can really trust are Merrick and Pike, whom she begins to share a somewhat romantic spark with after saving his life from nearly fatal attack from Amilyn and his followers. As the vampire population continues to grow, and prom draws nearer, Buffy has to make the tough decisions of how to defeat the head vampire Lothos, and figure out what to wear!

Unfortunately, both worlds end up colliding when Lothos and his vampire posse show up to prom and create havoc and a world of blood-letting.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui, perhaps isn't a horror movie in the typical sense that it is not particularly terrifying or gory, however, that is not to say that it doesn't still encompass those elements at all. The film does demonstrate a world gone mad through the rampage of blood sucking monsters, which that, in itself, is horrific…especially when it's a bunch of California teens consumed by their popularity status. The traditional use of gore such as bloody necks and the portrayal of the vampire’s insatiable desire for human blood is used effectively throughout the film as well as the ominous settings to which they thrive from (ie. creepy graveyards, shadowy atmospheres). These are all very recognizable ways to portray vampires using classic stereotypes. The most interesting thing about this film in terms of horror is not exactly what is deemed as "visually horrifying" but the role of the hero, Buffy, and how she must dominate the chaos taking over in her world. There's always someone in this genre that has to fight the monster, usually that person has a keen awareness and wise nature about them, but in this case, the hero is a ditzy teenage valley girl. Perhaps it's scary to think that the fate of humanity could be put in the hands of a teenage girl. Not only that but one who's consumed by fashion and cheerleading. Although Buffy is essentially given a prestigious role as the hero of this film, she is also cursed at the same time. Now that she's "the chosen one" her cheerleading and carefree days are done-- as if that isn't devastating enough with prom on the way!

One of the other great things about this film is the use of setting and make-up. It was always evident when a vampire or dark force was present with the heavily shadowed alleyways or graveyards and odd whisperings here and there. Predictable? Maybe. But it signals us to know that something bad is approaching and our only choice is to wait and see what happens next. When those vampires are revealed they expose a mouthful of elongated, pointed teeth, stained with killings from old to new. Their ears are webbed like bat wings and their skin reflects a sickly white. Not to mention that they effortless float to harass their prey from high windowed areas and use their immortal strength to play basket ball the way they never could as a mortal.

Needless to say, the film is also funny and is meant to be a parody on traditional vampire films. By no means was it meant to be terrifying but more or less having fun with old traditions. Not to mention the insane cameo's that went un-credited! Perhaps Ben Affleck rings a bell? What about Ricki Lake? If the movie itself doesn't stay with you, the handful of actors who made an appearance in this production will. For that matter, amongst the others mentioned, Buffy the Vampire Slayer will definitely remain a relic in the horror parody world.

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