Buffy the Vampire Slayer (film)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Photograph of a person in a cheerleading outfit holding a wooden stake and a pom pom
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui
Produced by Howard Rosenman
Kaz Kuzui
Written by Joss Whedon
Starring
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography James Hayman
Edited by Jill Savitt
Production
company
Sandollar
Kuzui Enterprises
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 31, 1992 (1992-07-31)
Running time
86 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7 million
Box office $16,624,456[1]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a 1992 American comedy horror film directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui and starring Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Rutger Hauer, Luke Perry, and Hilary Swank. It follows a Valley girl cheerleader named Buffy who learns that it is her fate to hunt vampires.[2] It was a moderate success at the box office,[3] but received mixed reception from critics.[4] The film was taken in a different direction from the one its writer Joss Whedon intended, and five years later, he created the darker and acclaimed TV series of the same name.

Plot[edit]

High school senior Buffy Summers (Kristy Swanson) attends Hemery High School in Los Angeles; her main concerns are shopping and spending time with her rich, snooty friends and her boyfriend, Jeffrey. While at school one day, she is approached by a man who calls himself Merrick (Donald Sutherland). He informs her that she is The Slayer, or Chosen One, destined to kill vampires, and he is a Watcher whose duty it is to guide and train her. She initially rejects his claim, but is convinced that he is right when he is able to describe a recurring dream of hers in detail. In addition, Buffy is exhibiting uncanny abilities not known to her, including heightened agility, senses, and endurance, yet she repeatedly tries Merrick's patience with her frivolous nature, indifference to slaying, and sharp-tongued remarks.

After several successful outings, Buffy is drawn into conflict with Lothos (Rutger Hauer), a local vampire king and his acolyte, Amilyn (Paul Reubens). Two young men, Oliver Pike (Luke Perry), and best friend Benny (David Arquette), who resented Buffy and her friends due to differing social circles, are out drinking when they are attacked by Amilyn. Benny is turned, but Pike is saved by Merrick. As a vampire, Benny visits Pike and tries to get him to join him. Later, when Pike and his boss are discussing Benny, Pike tells him to run if he sees him.

Amilyn also abducts Cassandra, a studious girl from Buffy's class, to sacrifice to Lothos. When her body is found, the news spreads through LA and Hemery High, but her murder is met with indifference from Buffy's clique.

When Pike realizes there is something wrong with Benny and that he is no longer safe, he decides to leave town. His plan is thwarted, however, when he encounters Amilyn and his gang of vampires. Amilyn hitches a ride on the hood of his van which crashes into a tree just before Amilyn loses an arm. Buffy and Merrick arrive to rescue him and Amilyn flees the fight to talk to Lothos. After this encounter, Buffy and Pike start a friendship which eventually becomes romantic, and Pike becomes Buffy's partner in fighting the undead.

During a basketball game, Buffy discovers that one of the players, and a friend of Jeffrey's, is a vampire. After a quick chase to a parade float storage yard, Buffy confronts Lothos, shortly after she and Pike take down his gang. Lothos puts Buffy into a trance, which is broken due to Merrick's intervention. Lothos stabs Merrick with the stake he attempted to use on him. Lothos leaves, saying that Buffy is not ready. As Merrick dies, he tells Buffy to do things her own way rather than live by the rules of others and gives her one final clue: "Remember about the music."

Because of her new life, its responsibilities, and the heartbreak of losing her Watcher, Buffy, emotionally shocked, starts neglecting her Slayer duties. When she arrives at school, she attempts to explain things to her friends, but they refuse to understand her as they are more concerned with an upcoming school dance. Buffy falls out with them as she realizes she has outgrown their immature, selfish behavior.

At the Senior Dance, Buffy tries to patch things up with her friends but they cut her cold. She is dismayed to find her boyfriend Jeffrey has dumped her for one of her friends. However, she meets up with Pike and as they start to dance and kiss, Lothos sends his remaining minions to the school to attack the humans at the dance.

Buffy confronts the vampires outside, while inside the gym Pike fights and kills the vampiric Benny. After overpowering the newly made vampires, she confronts Lothos inside the school and (possibly) kills Amilyn. Lothos attempts to ensorcel Buffy again, but when the dance music stops she remembers Merrick's words and defends herself.

She first tries to repel Lothos with a cross, but the vampire king is unimpressed. He grabs the cross, setting it afire, but Buffy uses her hairspray as a makeshift flame-thrower and burns him before escaping to the gym. Buffy sees her classmates recovering from the vampire attack, but Lothos bursts into the gym, promising to split Buffy open like a piece of rotten fruit. The Slayer and vampire duel, a wooden flagpole versus a katana. In the end, Buffy stakes Lothos and kills him.

As the survivors leave, Buffy and Pike decide to finish their dance. The film ends with the two of them leaving the dance on a motorcycle. A skeptical news crew headed up by Liz Smith interviews the students and the principal about the attack during the credits.

Cast[edit]

Continuity with the television show[edit]

Many of the details given in the film differ from the those of the later television series. For example, Buffy's age and history are dissimilar; she is a senior in high school in the film, but the series starts with her as a sophomore. The film does portray who the Buffy of the TV series was before she learned of her destiny as the Slayer: a popular but selfish and superficial cheerleader. In the film, her parents are wealthy but negligent socialites who care little for her and spend their time at parties and golf tournaments; in the TV show, Buffy has a caring, newly divorced mother named Joyce.

The supernatural abilities of both vampires and the Slayer are depicted differently. The vampires in the film die like humans; in the TV show they turn to dust, Unlike the TV show, their faces remain human albeit pale, fanged and with notched ears, whereas in the series they take on a demonic aspect, especially when newly raised. The series suggests that the new-made vampires must consciously learn to maintain a human appearance.

In the film, Merrick is hundreds of years old, having lived many lives training many Slayers; in the series, Watchers are mortal and specially trained for their role and mission. Merrick's British accent and the manner of his death are different when he appears in flashbacks in the series.

Joss Whedon has expressed his disapproval with the movie's interpretation of the script,[5] stating "I finally sat down and had written it and somebody had made it into a movie, and I felt like — well, that's not quite her. It's a start, but it's not quite the girl."

According to the Official Buffy Watcher's Guide, Whedon wrote the pilot to the TV series as a sequel to his original script, which is why the show makes references to events that did not occur in the film. In 1999, Dark Horse Comics released a graphic novel adaptation of Whedon's original script under the title The Origin. Whedon stated: "The Origin comic, though I have issues with it, CAN pretty much be accepted as canonical. They did a cool job of combining the movie script with the series, that was nice, and using the series Merrick and not a certain OTHER thespian who shall remain hated."[6]

Production[edit]

Writer Whedon sold the film to Dolly Parton’s production company Sandollar, in the fall of 1991.[7] Production was limited to five weeks to accommodate Luke Perry's Beverly Hills 90210 filming schedule.[8]

Whedon was involved in an advisory role early in the production, but departed after becoming dissatisfied with the direction the film was taking.[8] Executives at 20th Century Fox removed many of Whedon's jokes, believing the humor to be too abstract for audiences. They also disliked the darker elements in Whedon's original script, wanting to make it a lighter comedy. Merrick's suicide was replaced with his being killed by Lothos, and Buffy's burning down her high school gym to kill all the vampires was eliminated altogether. All this led Whedon to finally walk off the set.[8] He has been highly critical of actor Donald Sutherland's behavior on set, describing him as entitled and difficult to work with.[9] Sutherland had a penchant for improvising or altering his lines in the script, which director Rubel Kuzui allowed him to do freely because he was the film's most high-profile star. Whedon felt this made Merrick's dialogue in the film disjointed and unintelligible.[10][9]

Filming in Los Angeles included the ballroom of the Park Plaza Hotel, where Merrick lives and trains Buffy, John Marshall High School in Los Feliz,[11] and the gymnasium of University High School in West Los Angeles, where the high school dance and vampire attack was filmed.[12]

Box office[edit]

The film debuted at #5 at the North American box office[13] and eventually grossed a modest $16,624,456 against a $7 million production budget.[1]

Home releases[edit]

The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc in the U.S. in 1992 by Fox Video and re-released in 1995 under the "Twentieth Century Fox Selections" banner. It was released on DVD in the US in 2001 and on Blu-ray in 2011.

Soundtrack[edit]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by Various
Released July 28, 1992
Length 41:57
Label Columbia Records
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
No.TitleOriginal artist(s)Length
1."Keep It Comin' (Dance Till You Can't Dance No More)"C+C Music Factory featuring Deborah Cooper and Q-Unique3:58
2."Man Smart, Woman Smarter"Dream Warriors4:31
3."Silent City"Matthew Sweet2:51
4."We Close Our Eyes" (originally by Oingo Boingo)Susanna Hoffs3:54
5."Little Heaven"Toad the Wet Sprocket4:27
6."I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore"diVINYLS4:32
7."Party with the Animals"Ozzy Osbourne4:18
8."Zap City"The Cult5:14
9."I Fought the Law" (originally by The Crickets)Mary's Danish3:19
10."Light Comes Out of Black"Rob Halford and Pantera4:59

The soundtrack does not include every song played in the film, which also included "In the Wind" by War Babies and "Inner Mind" by Eon.

Reception[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 33%, based on 40 reviews, with an average rating of 4.2/10.[14] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[15]

Possible remake[edit]

On May 25, 2009, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment were working with Fran Rubel Kuzui and Kaz Kuzui on a re-envisioning or relaunch of the Buffy film for the big screen. The film would not be a sequel or prequel to the existing film or television franchise and Joss Whedon would have no involvement in the project. None of the characters, cast, or crew from the television series would be featured.[16] Television series executive producer Marti Noxon later reflected that this story might have been produced by the studio in order to frighten Whedon into taking the reins of the project.[17] On November 22, 2010, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Warner Bros. had picked up the movie rights to the remake.[18] The film was set for release sometime in 2012.[19] 20th Century Fox, which usually holds rights to the more successful Buffy/Angel television franchise, will retain merchandising and some distribution rights.[citation needed]

The idea of the remake caused wrath among fans of the TV series, since Whedon is not involved and the project does not have any connection with the show and will not conform to the continuity maintained with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight and Season Nine comic book titles. Not only the fandom, but the main cast members of both the Buffy and Angel series expressed disagreement with the report on Twitter and in recent interviews. Sarah Michelle Gellar said, "I think it's a horrible idea. To try to do a Buffy without Joss Whedon... to be incredibly non-eloquent: that's the dumbest idea I've ever heard."[20] Proposed shooting locations included Black Wood and other areas in rural England, due to budgetary constraints and the potential setting being outside of the city, an unusual change for the franchise.

In December 2011, more than a year after the official reboot announcement, the Los Angeles Times site reported that Whit Anderson, the writer picked for the new Buffy movie, had her script rejected by the producers behind the project, and that a new writer was being sought. Sources also stated that "If you're going to bring it back, you have to do it right. [Anderson] came in with some great ideas and she had reinvented some of the lore and it was pretty cool but in the end there just wasn't enough on the page."[21]

As of July 2018, Joss Whedon announced at San Diego Comic Con that he is working on a reboot of the series, and may feature a slayer of color.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Marx, Andy (1992-05-17). "A look inside Hollywood and the movies : SUMMERTIME BRUISE : Who Dares Intrude During the Season of the Giants? Several Rock-Slinging Davids". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  4. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 6, 2007. 
  5. ^ Bronze VIP Archive - January 17, 1999 Archived December 20, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Bronze VIP Archive - January 17, 1999". Cise.ufl.edu. 1999-01-17. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  7. ^ "Remembering Buffy the Vampire Slayer film". Yahoo movies. May 5, 2015. Retrieved June 25, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c Robin Burks (2017-12-22). "Things You Didn't Know About the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Movie". screenrant.com. Retrieved 2018-02-18. 
  9. ^ a b Tasha Robinson (2001-09-05). "Joss Whedon Interview". AVClub. Retrieved 2018-02-18. 
  10. ^ Nico Lang (2013-01-02). "25 Little-Known Facts About 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'". thoughtcatalog.com. Retrieved 2018-02-18. 
  11. ^ "Film locations for 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'". movie-locations.com. Retrieved 2018-02-19. 
  12. ^ Mitchell Sunderland (February 5, 2011). "'Perverting the Youth of America': The Oral History of Teen Classic 'Jawbreaker'". Broadly. Retrieved July 20, 2017. 
  13. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (1994-05-10). "Weekend Box Office `Honors' Tops in a Lackluster Bunch". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  14. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  15. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  16. ^ Kit, Borys (2009-05-25). "'Buffy' in for feature relaunch". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  17. ^ "Exclusive: Marti Noxon on the Future of 'Buffy'". Fearnet. 2010-07-21. Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  18. ^ Kit, Borys (2010-11-22). "'Buffy' Remake Finds a Home at Warner Bros". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  19. ^ "Comingsoon.net". Retrieved December 10, 2010. 
  20. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-05-18. 
  21. ^ "'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' movie looking for new writer | Hero Complex – latimes.com". Herocomplex.latimes.com. 2011-12-22. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 

External links[edit]