A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this forerunner of the classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series has a much different, less serious flavor (and a different cast) than the program. There is mild swearing and verbal sexual innuendo. Though violence is frequent, it's also cartoon-like and almost entirely bloodless, even when people are killed and vampires are being speared or, in one case, deprived of an arm. Except for supernatural mentors (master vampires and vampire-hunters) adults appear either idiotic or inconsequential, and a man in his 50s is considered disgustingly old.
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What's the story?
Buffy (Kristy Swanson), a pretty and popular blonde of the "Valley Girl" variety at a Pasadena-area high school, suffers strange dreams at the same time her peers start falling victim to a vampire invasion led by master vampire Lothos (Rutger Hauer). A roving vampire hunter named Merrick (Donald Sutherland) tells Buffy she's destined to be a "slayer," a born hunter-killer of vampires, and he trains her in how to fight the fiends. Buffy has to make some serious choices, however, when responsibility of exterminating vampires hurts her standing with her boyfriend and cheerleader squad-mates.
Is it any good?
Buffy's millions of TV fans may be surprised at the tomfoolery tone. Here the premise of a bloodsucker-battling cheerleader is milked at least half the time for gonzo humor, send-ups of Southern California stereotypes (fashion-conscious girls, New-Agey teachers) and some feminism lite, as Buffy evolves into being less like the characters in Clueless and more of a self-reliant warrior princess (though along the way she picks up a new, equally non-conformist boyfriend).
This is a lot fluffier than the good-vs.-evil gravitas from the prime-time saga. The vampires, though dangerous, are also rather goofy, more akin to bad boyfriends or rival-school punk nuisances. For example, one infiltrates the varsity basketball team and intimidates opponents with his fangs and hoops skills.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different ways that popular-culture storytellers have handled vampires, from Dracula to Twilight. They have symbolized pure evil but also romance and sexuality. Here vampires -- who look kind of like a marauding gang from a rival high school -- serve as a sort of catalyst for Buffy to grow up and realize there is more to life than classroom popularity. What do you think of this Buffy compared to the revamped TV version?
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