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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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.
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.