Sunday, February 15, 2009

Film Review: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1992, Fran Rubel Kuzui)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 86 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Kristy Swanson, Rutger Hauer, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Swank, David Arquette, Paul Reubens, Luke Perry, Stephen Root, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Ben Affleck
Tag-lines: "Pert. Wholesome. Way Lethal."
Best one-liner(s): "All I want to do is graduate from high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die. Now it may not sound too great to a sconehead like you, but I think it's swell. And you come along and tell me I'm a member of the hairy mole club so you can *throw* things at me?"

Kristy Swanson. She won the hearts of a nation with her stunning turns in DEADLY FRIEND and FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. She fell pretty damn hard in the mid to late 90's, but here she was still A-list. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is a pretty solid movie. It's saved from mediocrity by a couple key elements. Swanson is solid. And when Buffy says her greatest goals in life are to marry Christian Slater and move to Europe, you really gotta respect that. Also respectable is Donald Sutherland in a ridiculous overcoat and fedora. Sometimes he stares off into space and gives it weight, as if he is considering the eons he's lived through.

He's actually just visualizing his paycheck, but since he's a real trouper, he's able to make it work for the picture. Crossing her eyes and doing spit-takes is two time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank. Maybe she was channeling this character by mistake in BLACK DAHLIA. Yeah, that movie's an abomination, but that's neither here nor there. Sporting some svelte lip carpet, playing the violin, and classin' up the joint is Rutger Hauer.

He still has a lot of dignity left after WEDLOCK and BLIND FURY, which is a most impressive feat, and one worthy of accolade and a hearty pat on the back. Here. But the silver lining is Paul Reubens. Like some bizarro cross between his Pee-Wee Herman persona and Tom Savini, Reubens' vampire comes out of nowhere and improvises up a storm.

His memorable final scene gives this film it's fourth star, and is a tribute to actors who are able to rise above studio mediocrity... by doing whatever the hell they want! Side note: look for an uncredited Ben Affleck as #10 at the basketball game.

-Sean Gill

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