The Birthday Series – Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Droids Birthday Series 1992 Aah, yes. The Birthday Series. Thought I’d forgotten about this didn’t you? WRONG! The series no one asked for is back! And you shall like it! Yes, you heard me! Like it! Seriously, scroll to the top of the page and click Like. No, don’t hit back on your browser. At least read the damn thing first. Fine. Whatever. I didn’t want you to read it anyway. Good riddance.

Seriously, it’s been about a month and a half since 1993, and this review has absolutely stumped me. Not because the review was difficult to write. No, as you will be able to tell, I made absolutely no effort with this one. Its a bad review, because I had nothing of interest to say about the film. I should’ve just published a review that stated “It’s a crap film.” and be done with it, but no way, José. Homey don’t play that. Or something along those lines. Can you tell I’m playing for time here? Alright, I’ll quit stalling and bow to the inevitable. I hereby give you my crap review of a crap movie. On with the show!

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Poster For this series I’ve reviewed a couple of films that were based on television shows and pointed out that most of them didn’t work. But what about the other way around? Television shows that are based on films seem to have a higher success rate. MASH and The Odd Couple are two particularly good examples, and although I haven’t seen them, the success of Stargate SG1 and Friday Night Lights prove that television versions of popular films can work. But what these four shows have in common is quality original source material. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the ‘Buffy’ television show, it did have substantial merit. And after seeing the original film ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, I can say that the TV show is a lot better.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 1 Buffy (Kristy Swanson) is like the most popular high school cheerleader ever! She’s like totally haunted by dreams of vampires and stuff, and then you know, like all of a sudden she’s approached by this way gross, creepy old dude named Merrick Jamison-Smythe (Donald Sutherland) who tells her that he is like this Watcher guy, who’s totally responsible for training this vampire killing chosen one lady who he calls The Slayer. And oh my god you won’t believe it, but Buffy is like totally The Slayer! And if that isn’t like insane enough, there’s this other creepy old guy who’s this big, powerful vampire named Lothos (Rutger Hauer) who like totally has some weird perverted boner for Buffy. But that’s like totally understandable because Buffy is a total hottie. Oh and I like didn’t even mention Pike (Luke Perry) who’s kinda a bit of a loser, but looks totally super cute in a leather jacket and he and Buffy hook up. And you know Buffy totally learns how to kick vampire ass and like save the world and stuff. Awesome, right?

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 3 Written by geek god Joss Whedon, ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ is at it’s strongest during the opening twenty minutes, when we are introduced to Buffy and her friends. Whedon seems to have a good handle on the LA teen speak and there are plenty of amusing lines showcasing just how idiotically stupid the characters are. But therein lies the problem. Each and every character is as dumb as a sack of rocks, even down to the parents and teachers. In a film like ‘Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure’, or ‘Dumb and Dumber’, the main characters are morons, but because they’re the idiots amongst normal people, they are endearing in their lack of guile and wits. In ‘Buffy’, because everyone is stupid, the result is no one stands out as an individual. The Buffy character could be anyone from that group of friends. So what it boils down to is Whedon is just making fun of all the characters.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 4 Obviously it doesn’t help that the film is poorly directed by Fran Rubel Kazui. When the vampire storyline is introduced it’s unfocused and we don’t really get to understand who everyone is, and why. Lothos is a powerful vampire who has been sleeping for however long, but now is returning to do what? Why has he been sleeping? There’s not enough explanation of the character, and since the tone of the film is comedic neither Lothos nor any of the other vampires are threatening.

Kristy Swanson as Buffy does have some good comic timing, and is definitely the highlight of the film. It doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes and spends a good deal of time in a cheerleaders outfit. But Donald Sutherland and Rutger Hauer look completely lost and disinterested. Paul Rubens as a vampire is wasted and Luke Perry is well, Luke Perry. What can you expect? Of interest is seeing a young Hilary Swank as one of Buffy’s vacuous friends, and David Arquette plays Pikes friend who gets turned into a vampire.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 2 Joss Whedon was obviously upset by the resulting film, and changes that were apparently made to his precious screenplay. By adapting the characters for television he was able to find the right tone, making it less ‘point the finger at the stupid kid’ and more referential and smartalecky. He was also able to expand and explain the universe of ‘Buffy’. Sometimes television is better.

1-chang That’s it, birthday over.

 

For Droids a jolly good fellow!

2009 – The Collector

2008 – The Midnight Meat Train

2007 – Hot Rod

2006 – Bon Cop Bad Cop

2005 – The Dukes of Hazzard

2004 – The Manchurian Candidate

2003 – Gigli

2002 – Signs

2001 – Rush Hour 2

2000 – Hollow Man

1999 – The Iron Giant

1998 – BASEketball

1997 – In The Company of Men

1996 – Chain Reaction

1995 – Babe

1994 – Clear and Present Danger

1993 – The Fugitive

Droid

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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

38 responses to “The Birthday Series – Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)”

  1. Bartleby says :

    I think I’m with the Monkey on this one. I never saw Buffy the tv show while it was running, save for the first episode on the initial airdate (which didn’t do anything for me, but last year I went through the whole series and Angel together.

    It might not be the best show ever made, but overall, it’s a damn good one, and is one of my personal favorites for a good number of its seasons. Yes, it had a drag in the middle (season 4) and an inexplicably flimsy, annoying final season (7) but much of what was in between wasn’t just funny, but actually thoughtful and imaginative.

    None of that applies to the movie. It is exactly as stereotypical, trite, and brainless as the title suggests. And it doesn’t seem to have even a single useful thought about what high school is really like.

    Blah.

  2. LB says :

    I rember Paul reubens being interesting in this, or something…

  3. Tom_Bando says :

    I have caught some of this in the past. Totally forgotten whatever it was I saw. Not about to change that either.

  4. Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

    Buffy the what now? I never heard of this, it sounds stupid.

    What manner of moron would watch such nonsense?

    P.S. Happy birthday for whenever it was, Droid.

    • Droid says :

      Buffy + Gilmore Girls = A Monkey Joygasm.

      PS. Cheers.

      • Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

        Buffy + Gilmore Girls = A Monkey Joygasm.

        Unfortunately true, hence my strange interest in Danny Strong, the man who straddled both shows.

        Ah, Danny Strong. So funny as the ineffectual nerd who became an unlikely villain; also so funny as Paris’s college boyfriend when Rory Gilmore went to Yale. And so short.

  5. Jarv says :

    Crap film this. There’s not a lot to say about it. Waste of rutger

  6. Bartleby says :

    oh, I think we are all being sideswiped by the crappiness of the film, and not acknowledging the really amazing thing here.

    Droid finished a series! Huzzah! Now, just tell me what the number one movie of the last decade was!

    And this isn’t a crap review. It’s a good review, because I bet Whedon wrote up something like this between the release of the film and the creation of the series.

    Like you say, Buffy could be any one of the crowd, and the characterizations are very broad. When it hit tv, each of the gang, even potential caricatures like Cordelia, got fleshed out into characters. And they actually dropped the idea of Buffy being a shallow dumbbell, and just made her a slightly slow-on-the-uptake, but resourceful, awkward teen. Worked way better.

    This review has me considering some sort of column walking through the series again. Frank, unless you are planning a Pauly Shore retrospective, you interested in joining in?

    • Droid says :

      Bless your precious heart, Jonah. I know that sometimes I’m an immature moron, but I wasn’t born in 1992 (far from it), and I’ve got plenty to go.

      And yes, I am well aware of my number one. It’s been on my mind for quite some time. Sometime before I begin next decades list I will unveil it.

    • Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

      Are you sure that’s a door you want to open, Bartleby?

      You may have read my borderline insane ramblings about a certain programme starring Lauren Graham. Well, that’s nothing compared to my Buffy fetish. Me contributing to a column about that show could be dangerous, or at the very least I would bore everyone silly.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        What, Parenthood-?

      • Spud McSpud says :

        Hey, I’m THERE for the Pauly Shore series! JURY DUTY, IN THE ARMY NOW, BIO-DOME, CALIFORNIA MAN —

        — Actually just those four. And PAULY SHORE IS DEAD was fuckin’ terrible. But you have to love the Shore for those four movies alone. Makes me giggle like hell for hours after watching those movies…

      • Droid says :

        There’s also one where he goes to the country, and spends thanksgiving (or something) with Carla Guginos family. Fuck knows what it was called. But it had Gugino in it so it’s got to be added to that list.

    • Bartleby says :

      Arrgh, Droid. I read that last sentence wrong. Thought it said ‘Birthday series over’. I had forgotten this bad boy is working all the way back to 1988(I kid).

      Frank, if you have a concept for the Buffy thing, email me. I’m honestly thinking of doing a couple articles a week, starting with the pilot and then covering maybe 3 or 4 episodes at a time.

      If of course, I get the rest of the stuff off the ground.

      Had an interesting weekend of films: The Big Blue (last night), Subway, Suck, Wild Target, Rain of the Children, Babies, The Wild Hunt, Temple Grandin.

  7. koutchboom says :

    Easily the second best thing that Whedon’s ever been involved with.

  8. Bartleby says :

    Droid, I found the perfect movie to begin our Australian film series with:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069754/

  9. Spud McSpud says :

    I’m gonna drop a bomb in this little thread, if I may. I am being utterly truthful, totally without irony, and have no interest in being post-modern hipster-ish or whatever. I am stating my truth, and I expect to be damned for it.

    I LOVE THIS MOVIE, AND VASTLY PREFER IT TO THE SERIES.

    I know, I know. It would take me literally weeks to qualify that statement properly, so here are a few bullet points. I should say, I’m NOT slamming the series – God knows, it rewrote the book on series aimed at teens, it reignited interest in supernatural series (The Good: no BUFFY TV, no FREAKYLINKS, no SUPERNATURAL. The Bad: no BUFFY, no HEX, no VAMPIRE DIARIES, etc etc…)

    * David Arquette’s Benny does a great take on SALEM’S LOT: “Lemme in, Pike, I’m hungry!”)

    * Luke Perry’s character is funny. Well, I think so. And the fact he is so not an action hero, having to be constantly saved by Buffy, but thinks he is – he’s just funny.

    * Donald Sutherland takes it all very seriously. Rutger Hauer, however, does not. Both are brilliant.

    * Best thing in the movie: Paul Reuben’s final scene. Just awesome.

    * Kirsty Swanson is teh hotness. Way hotter than SMG. She’s also the main reason I saw the otherwise okay Charlie Sheen movie THE CHASE. Swanson is HOT!

    * Goofy, silly vampires. And some great lines: “Now, I’m a God!” “And now – you’re a coatrack!”. Brilliant dialogue, which got all portentous and shit towards the end of the series.

    * It stuck to the main idea, which was that BUFFY IS A DUMB BITCH. Brave, good fighter, talented, but DUMB. Which the series conveniently forgot by the end of Season 1, but pretended it kept by keeping the dumb teenspeak. Either a character is dumb or she isn’t – how would becoming a vampire slayer suddenly improve Buffy’s intellect? By the end of the series, Buffy was co-ordinating entire battalions of Slayers, and using tactics, guile, smarts – totally not the girl Buffy was to begin with. I would accept that Buffy needed to grow in experience and as an individual character, but the massive improvement in intelligence she suddenly gained just was not realistic. At least in the movie, dumb Buffy at the beginning was still dumb Buffy at the end – just dumb Buffy but with a destiny and a future.

    * I was 20 when I saw BUFFY in ’92, so I have many fond memories of the time. Considering I lost my dad a year later (17 years ago today, God rest him) I wadn’t best placed to enjoy the series when it came along the way I enjoyed the movie.

    Fuck, I know I’ll have hardly anyone agree with me. But I love the hell out of this movie…

    • Droid says :

      Funnily enough, after watching this I went and located The Chase. I remembered it from the early 90’s and it is EXACTLY the same film I remember it being. A surprisingly enjoyable, pretty goofy, entertaining movie. And Swanson does indeed look hot in it.

      I never watched the show past the second season so I’m not sure how it developed. Buffy leading whole armies of slayers sounds pretty crap though.

    • Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

      I agree with you about a couple of things.

      One is Paul Reubens’s death scene, which is indeed awesome. It just keeps going and going. Best part of the film.

      The other is Kristy Swanson, who is definitely the hotter of the two Buffys.

      I’m not with you on the rest of it, though.

      As to Buffy not being dumb after season 1, that’s one of the things I like about the telly version – character growth. Pretty much all of them evolve over the life of the series. Willow goes from nerdy wallflower to all-powerful (and occasionally evil) witch, Giles stops being a posh English stereotype, Spike transforms from villain to self-sacrificing hero, even Xander becomes less goofy and useless. And Buffy matures from an airheaded teen into a confident if sometimes dickish leader.

      One thing I dislike about telly is when the writers bend over backwards to preserve the show’s status quo, but the creatives behind Buffy were never afraid to move the story and the characters into new and different places. That kept things fresh, I think.

      • Droid says :

        I don’t get that Reubens death scene. It wasn’t funny. I can see what it was going for, but it was just not funny. PLUS they revisit it after the credits with him still grimacing and making noises.

      • Spud McSpud says :

        And then FAMILY GUY ripped it off with Peter doing his endless banged-up knee schtick. Though it’s damn funny seeing an AT-AT do the same thing in SOMETHING SOMETHING SOMETHING DARK SIDE…

  10. Droid says :

    And I’m very disappointed in all of you (except Jonah and Frankie). You were very clearly instructed to ‘Like’ this review, and most of you haven’t! Not good enough! Have a long hard look at yourself people!

  11. ThereWolf says :

    I haven’t seen any ‘Buffy’ stuff. Just the title puts me off – ‘Buffy’. Blegh.

    I agree Swanson is hotter than SMG, plus she was the bomb in Deadly Friend…

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