Monday, July 31, 2017

Buffy's Forgotten Anniversary


This year's San Diego Comic-Con paid tribute to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's 20th anniversary on TV with a big bash at a local night club that included a  former adversary (Clare Kramer), lots of pictures from the show, and "The Harvest" playing in the background.
There were also panels on how the show was designed, and a new book that will get inside how the show was made. That will be released in the fall.

However, nothing was mentioned about Buffy's other anniversary, her 25th year as the original movie. It may be due to the fact that it's not as good as the TV show, but attention should be paid. When it was released at the end of July 1992, it seemed it could appeal to some fans. Sure, the idea of a high school cheerleader being chosen to clobber vampires and assorted hellspawn may be different, and possibly weird after years of Freddy and Jason picking off teenage girls. Joss Whedon, a guy who wrote for Roseanne,  thought it would be cool if the typical victim in horror movies would become scarier than the monsters she faces. Turns out he was right.

However, it didn't turn out that way as the movie made $16 million after a seven million dollar budget, and was mainly forgotten. At least it lead to something better.

I only care about this because several years ago I managed to get a baseball cap from the movie at a thrift store. After that, I got the press book, and eventually met Kristy Swanson herself at a small con in Sacramento. She was a great interview, actually.

It would have been great to have a panel at Comic-Con with both Buffys talking about how the role changed their lives. You would have needed three Hall H's for that.

YouTube actually has some videos connected with the original movie. Here's a photo shoot with the cast to plug the movie. It's a nice look behind the scenes:



or Kristy talking about the movie with Arsenio Hall



and a brief story in Entertainment Tonight.



Still, you have to admit the movie could have better, if not for Fox deciding it shouldn't be that scary if the heroine was a demon-hunting cheerleader. Joss Whedon, who wrote the movie, had a different idea with his original script which eventually was made into a comic book series with Dark Horse in 1999. For one thing, Merrick had a different explanation about why it took so long to find her, the action was much more violent, and her throwaway line about how she "blew up the gym" was explained. Fans today would have bought that.

There was also talk that maybe David Bowie or Mick Jagger would be vampires at the Spring Dance or henchmen to Lothos, but that faded quickly.

It did serve as a place where some familiar faces got their start, including Hillary Swank, Ben Affleck and Ricki Lake. Paul Reubens used it as his comeback after that arrest in an adult theater in Florida. It included that really long death scene that was a smart idea in retrospect. Luke Perry hoped it could lead him towards a film career after 90210.

It's just too bad that, in the end, the Buffy movie was an example of the "they just didn't care enough" school of cinema. There's a boom mike visible in the first few minutes, Benny the Vampire has a reflection on a window, and all the students are clueless until the last ten minutes. That's a far cry from the Buffy we know getting some Slayerettes by the second episode

If you haven't seen the original Buffy movie, it's available at Amazon as a double feature with Jennifer's Body. So is the Origin comic, although a bit pricey. It may be possible to get it cheaper at local comic book stores.

Meanwhile, the Nerdist wrote its own column on the movie on the 20th anniversary of the TV show. It gives a summary of the movie and compares it to the TV show. It also argues that it taught Joss something:  while Buffy may be the hero, she has to have some interesting supporting characters. That's a lesson he applied to his other shows. Imagine if Buffy's friends from the movie weren't so "Clueless" three years before the movie of that name. Maybe in a different universe we'd have "Daughter of Buffy" taking over where she left off...or both of them battling vampires. That would have worked, too.

In any case, happy 25th to the Buffy movie, and all who were part of it.


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