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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reviews

If you've seen BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER's poster, you've seen the movie. Otherwise, this pallid crossbreeding of vampire horror with Valley Girl vamping has no surprises. Tall, blond and very fit, Buffy (Kristy Swanson) is an average movie version of an LA high-school student (including the fact that Swanson, however comely, is a bit old for the part). Her averageness vanishes, however, the day she discovers--via dreams and a visitation from veteran vampire fighter Merrick (Donald Sutherland)--that she is the latest descendant of a race of vampire slayers dedicated to the extinction of the blood-sucking subspecies. This turns out to be a very convenient occurrence: Buffy's city of angels is currently under siege from vampires led by Lothos (Rutger Hauer) and Amilyn (Paul Reubens), who've wandered the Earth since sometime before the Crusades and have managed to vanquish Buffy and Merrick in their earlier incarnations through the generations. After some token whining--she is a Val, after all--Buffy rises to the occasion, though not before Lothos and Amilyn have apparently decimated Buffy's high school and turned most of her classmates into bloodsuckers. Aided by handsome town outcast Pike (Luke Perry), Buffy has her showdown at the senior dance, creating an overnight run on wooden stakes by impaling her erstwhile classmates and, eventually, Lothos and Amilyn, making the world safe once again for mallrats from Burbank to Woodland Hills. Mixing vapid t'n'a Valley Girl comedy with bloodthirsty vampire horror evidently seemed like a great idea to someone, somewhere at some time. In practice, however, the screenplay, by sitcom veteran Joss Whedon, doesn't have anything new to add to either genre. Neither does director Fran Rubel Kuzui (TOKYO POP), who betrays little flair for either genre, resulting in more a clumsy collision than a creative clash. The comedy consists of the same old pert-bottomed, perky-breasted teenagers scampering through malls, cooing over buff dudes and speaking in tongues. The horror is mostly vampire camp, despite BUFFY's having an apparently higher body count than most straightforward treatments of the theme. On the acting side, Swanson is earnest, attractive and a bodacious athlete (she'd do well in a kung-fu Valley Gal comedy), while TV heartthrob Perry is pleasantly laidback and engagingly chivalrous to the point of trimming his trademark sideburns to win the heart of the Buff woman. The two villains, however, are a disappointment. Hauer tries for arch self-parody, a mistake since the Dutch actor accomplishes much the same in most of his straight roles. The effect here is overkill. Reubens, in his first substantial role since dropping his Pee-Wee Herman persona, is afforded little opportunity to display much comic inventiveness, cast as a retread "Renfield" to Hauer's "Count." Despite that, his death scene--a sort of vampire ballet of spasms, puking and twitching--is about the only real laugh in the film (something the filmmakers sensed, since the scene is replayed over the closing credits). On the whole, however, the mood is one of tired resignation. (Violence.)