20th Century Fox presents
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
"I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm in a graveyard, with a strange man, hunting for vampires on a school night. Eeuw!"- Buffy (Kristy Swanson)
Stars: Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Rutger Hauer, Luke Perry
Other Stars: Michele Abrams, Hilary Swank, David Arquette, Candy Clark, Mark DeCarlo
Director: Fran Rubel Kuzui
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (vampire violence/gore, language, sexual innuendo)
Run Time: 01h:25m:24s
Release Date: 2001-09-04
DVD ReviewAlthough the cult favorite TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer tends to take its horror rather seriously, the movie that started it all certainly does not. Rather, the emphasis is on the shallowness of teenage girls as a comic foil for the bloodsuckers of the dark. When I first heard that a movie was being made by this name, I knew that it was a completely crazed concept that could actually work. The realization of the title doesn't disappoint.
Vacuous bleach-blonde cheerleader Buffy is part of the In Crowd. She's a Valley Girl through and through and the only things that matter to her are fashion and boys. But she's plagued by strange nightmares that suddenly become clearer when she meets the mysterious Merrick (Donald Sutherland). He discloses that every generation has a Chosen One, a slayer of vampires, and that Buffy is the one for this generation. With the aid of rebel Pike (Luke Perry), she takes on master vampire Lothos (Rutger Hauer), his lieutenant Amilyn (Paul Reubens) and a veritable army of the undead. Luckily, Buffy took gymnastics lessons and can also hold them off with her impeccable fashion sense.
The mall set with their Valleyspeak are an easy target, and this movie's not afraid to stoop to mocking them and their lack of awareness and values. Yet this inability to take things seriously also is put to good use in helping Buffy deal with the unknown without losing her marbles. Swanson does a very good job with nice comic timing in using her Valleyspeak powers to put down the creatures of the night before driving a stake through their hearts. Sutherland is excellent as always as Buffy's frustrated mentor. Luke Perry seems content to take second fiddle to Swanson's Buffy, and that seems to be where he fits in best. I think his career since 1992 has proven that he's not leading man material. Rutger Hauer makes an excellent vampire, far surpassing what I expected from him based on other roles I've seen him in. I was also amazed to find Oscar®-winner Hilary Swank in the cast as one of Buffy's empty-headed compatriots.
It is a good thing that Buffy is set up as some kind of mystical Chosen One, because the vampires seem to fall to her in an almost absurdly easy manner. Paul 'Pee-Wee Herman' Reubens is the exception, taking forever to croak in a very funny little death scene. Another standout in the humor department is the New-Age feel-good basketball coach (Mark DeCarlo). Although he gets only a few seconds of screen time, he's an absolute scream every time.
Intentionally way, way over the top, the movie stands on its own pretty well. Fans of the series may be disappointed if they haven't seen the movie already in the irreverent tone that it takes. But given the name, it's hard to imagine any other way that the movie could have gone. Briskly paced, it can be a little on the predictable side, but overall it's quite enjoyable.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture is quite clear and crisp throughout. There is some film grain evident, but this is mostly in low light settings where one would expect a higher grain content. Colors are natural and bright and the black levels are very good. Almost zero frame damage is visible. Overall a very pleasant viewing experience.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: The two English soundtracks have some minor differences. The 4.0 Dolby Digital has a broader soundstage than the Dolby Surround track. However, on occasion the ambient sounds in the mains on the 4.0 intrude on the ability of the audience to hear the dialogue in the center channel. This problem is not evident in the Dolby Surround track, which is perfectly satisfactory. The use of the surrounds is quite effective and atmospheric. Neither audio track has any noticeable noise or hiss. The 4.0 track would garner a C+ grade; this grade is for the Dolby Surround track.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Batman: The Movie, Bedazzled, Big Trouble in Little China, Legend of Hell House, Young Frankenstein
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Layers Switch: 52m:46s
Extras Review: The extras here are a little disappointing. Besides a 2.35:1 anamorphic theatrical trailer and two TV spots, there are five other trailers for Fox films and a brief (04m) making of featurette. This is basically a little puff piece and really adds nothing to the enjoyment of the movie. Why couldn't creator and screenwriter Joss Whedon have done a commentary or even an interview talking about the massive changes between the movie and the series? Chaptering is very good. The subtitles often paraphrase the dialogue, and in a couple instances completely contradict it!
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsEeuw! Gross, vampires! I'm just sure! This is, like, soooo five minutes ago! Ahem, sorry. But this mixture of the Valley and the Vampires is irresistible fun. The nice transfer doesn't hurt, although the extras are a little thin.
Mark Zimmer 2001-09-03