Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

October 11, 2017 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

In each generation there is a chosen one, a woman who must train to battle an evil force, the legions of vampires that plague the lands. She is always trained by Merrick (Donald Sutherland), who has trained these slayers for centuries and knows his game, to be sure. As bodies begin to pile up in sunny California, it is time for the slayer to be found and after much searching, Merrick has located this generation’s chosen one. She is Buffy (Kristy Swanson), a blonde cheerleader with high social status, but little in terms of anything else. She is gorgeous and in fantastic shape, but she is still not the usual brand of slayer, at least not at first glance. When Merrick informs her of her status, she declines at first, but Merrick is able to convince her soon and then, the intense training sessions begin, which means Buffy has to miss cheerleading practices. Her friends begin to wonder what’s up, new victims seem to surface all the time, and now, it is up to the lean, mean, slayer machine Buffy to lay waste to the vampires, as well as their leader Lothos (Rutger Hauer). But will Buffy’s keen fashion sense be enough to overcome the legions of the night?

Before there was the popular teen series of the same name, there was this feature film, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With a quirky sense of humor, this movie tackles vampires in a unique fashion, with terrific results. This is by no means high cinema, but it is a fun ride and with a colorful cast, it more than warrants some attention. Kristy Swanson shines in the lead here, while Luke Perry, David Arquette, Paul Reubens, Rutger Hauer, Hilary Swank, and Donald Sutherland flesh out the cast, which sports a solid roster, I think. The performance are good within the demands of the material, which means they’re stereotypical, but quite enjoyable. The pace remains brisk and never lags in the least, so there’s never a dull moment with Buffy, not even for a second. It kicks off on a high note, speeds to the meat of the storyline, then rides the rails toward the finish, with minimal unneeded stops along the path. A fun and very humorous picture, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is recommended to those interested, without any hesitation at all.

I’ve watched the television series a little, but I prefer the filmed edition, as I think Kristy Swanson better carries the title character. Although the show goes in a different direction, Swanson’s Buffy seems more likable as a person, even though she’s vapid at times. She also seems more fun, as the television Buffy is overly serious, sometimes to an immense fault. But Swanson is loads of fun in the role here and she seems to be having a good time, as her performance is energetic and never seems to slow down. The whole blonde cheerleader act might be too overdone for some folks, but I think it meshes well within the structure of the movie. You can also see Swanson in such films as Higher Learning, The Chase, The Phantom, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Supreme Sanction. The cast also includes Donald Sutherland (Panic, The Art of War), Paul Reubens (Mystery Men, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure), Luke Perry (8 Seconds, Beverly Hills 90210), and Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, The Hitcher).

Video: How does it look?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer might be celebrating a quarter of a century, but Fox hasn’t really seen fit to role out the red carpet. If a new restoration was done, I couldn’t tell. A few scenes show some grain, and it does look a bit cleaner than its DVD predecessor. The colors look bold and on the mark, with no smears or other errors, while flesh tones remain natural at all times. The contrast seems stable and well balanced also, as detail level is high and no murkiness is to be seen. Add in a clean source print and we’re in business, as this is a terrific visual presentation in all respects.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DVD release had a 4.0 mix (which I never understood), but that’s changed with this Blu-ray. We’re now presented with a full DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Yep, 25 years and we get another 1.1 channels! The surrounds are used often to enhance the atmosphere, but also to ramp up the soundtrack, which is good news. Some subtle use is to be heard, but not too much, aside from the few scenes that need it. This material simply doesn’t need explosive presence much and as such, this mix keeps it natural and that’s how it should be. The vocals are crisp and sharp at all times, with no problems to discuss at all.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Featurette – An all too-brief featurette that has some cast and crew interviews as well as some behind the scenes footage.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots

The Bottom Line

Let’s face it, the best thing to come out of this movie was that it was written by Joss Whedon and that it inspired a television show that far eclipsed this in terms of popularity. That’s not to say that this is by any means a bad movie, it’s just one of those that set the stage for things to come. And those things were better. I also love how Luke Perry has been removed from the cover. I wonder what he’s  up to these days?

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