The new episode of the Revisited video series looks back at 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, featuring Paul Reubens
The episode of Revisited covering Buffy the Vampire Slayer was Written, Edited, and Narrated by Lance Vlcek, Produced by Tyler Nichols and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.
With the recent passing of Paul Reubens, it got me thinking about the first role I ever saw him in, funny enough, without even knowing it was him until years later. It’s the one as a long-hired rocker with a penchant for blood. It’s a fun supporting role, acting alongside the legend that is Rutger Hauer. So, today I’d like to revisit a goofy, light-hearted, and charming vampire flick – from the early 90s. So raise your glass and raise it high. Today we talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (watch it HERE).
First things first, I understand the show is the most accurate, and Buffy‘s true form is considered the television format, so I don’t want this to be a comparison. But this revisit is more of a love letter to a gateway horror flick. Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui and released in 1992, Buffy the Vampire Slayer serves up a particular blend of playful horror, comedy, and teen drama. If someone has never heard of it, I’d pitch Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Clueless meets campy Dracula, but Buffy precedes it. So, maybe Clueless owes a lot more to this than the 90s would like to admit. And as old as it makes my soul to admit this, those seeking a dose of retro fun will find it here.
Now the biggest strength and what rounds out a somewhat pedestrian story is this cast. I’m not one to list these things but look at this damn cast. I mean, we got Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer, The Raven himself, Stephen Root, David Arquette, Thomas Jane, Hilary Swank, Paul Reubens, Luke Perry and Kristy Swanson. But before we get into things, I want to put a focus on Reubens. How he played against type, and his entire look (which was super cool back then) was modeled after the worst day of his life. Now I’m not interested in getting into the specifics here, but his arrest got him a famous mugshot, and when he did Buffy the Vampire Slayer a year later, he reclaimed the look.
Paul Reubens is and will always be Pee-Wee Herman. A character that started Tim Burton on his way and defined the ’80s. Here he plays Amilyn, the quirky and somewhat bumbling sidekick to the film’s main baddie and vampire extraordinaire, Lothos. Amilyn is a bad dude (he does murder teens), and Ruebens disappears into the role. But what makes the character a standout? Why, in a movie with such heavy hitters, does Ruebens steal the show? Well, because of his comedic timing and physical comedy. There is an energy here that is finessed enough that compared to Pee-Wee, he’s damn near relaxing but brings a level of spirit that always makes me smile. And even though he was kinda evil, you couldn’t help but find him oddly endearing. And let’s not forget that while Rutger Hauer’s character was all sinister and intense, Reubens’ goofiness balanced it perfectly. The way these two played off each other may be secondary to the main plot but provides a lot of substantial growth in the movie’s overarching tone. Now, do I wish it was bloodier? Yes. But the vibe Fran (and the studio execs, if we’re being honest) are going for is fun and skipped on the too-dark and serious angle Joss Whedon wanted
The general idea of Weadon’s script is that Buffy Summers (played by Kristy Swanson) is a typical high schooler, that of the valley girl type whose primary concerns revolve around fashion, cheerleading, and boys. Hey, a girl has gotta relax. Then Donald Sutherland’s Merrick comes along, and she discovers her destiny. Buffy, well, she’s a vampire slayer.
I dig Swanson’s portrayal of Buffy. She has the cute, San Fernando Valley thing going but enough of an edge, when needed, to where I could buy the kicking ass. While Sarah Michelle Gellar leans more into the causal late 90s teen that worked well for the tone of the show and holds up better in time, Swanson adds a playful and endearing quality, while heavily leaning into the bubbly blonde trope. Ya know, one who SHOULD have no chance against a vampire. Her sass and quick wit, along with her nonchalant attitude towards, what should be a scary f*cking realization that vampires exist, bring an easy-going and entertaining nature to Buffy as she navigates the simple high school life of the early ’90s.
David Arquette was coming into his own and is clearly having a damn good time as The Main Lackey, Benny. Luke Perry was at his peak breaking girls’ hearts here. He plays the soft-spoken outcast Pike well. If I’m being honest, I didn’t really get his appeal as a kid, but my older self can admit the son of a bitch had charm. And he adds a needed urgency to the whole situation.
Swank’s Kimberley is annoying, but obviously, that was the script and direction, and Swank nails it. She plays up the ditzy role to perfection, and the character is such a dingbat that even Stephen Roots, Mr. Murry, takes her down a notch. Can we just admit that Root is one of the greatest character actors of our lifetime? Hats off to him and everything he’s done. Shows up to work every single time.
Sometimes, I miss these kinds of movies. This distinct type of nostalgia is deeply tied to its time, a snapshot of youth. But I had my time, like you had yours, and your kids will have theirs. But looking at who we lost in this movie, I always appreciate the art we got. Some of it deep, some shlocky, but all of it entertaining. Life can be tough. Try and remember to relax and have a good time. The beauty of movies, guys.
Two previous episodes of Revisited can be seen below. To see more of our shows, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals channel – and subscribe while you’re at it!
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/buffy-revisited/