While Joss Whedon's Buffy TV series may have legions of fans, the motion picture that would become the basis for that series is just about perfect in its own right. This underrated comedy classic says more about American pop culture in the early-90s than pretty much every other movie of the era. That it's actually funny (self-awarely stupid funny?) is a bonus. But while the humor doesn't make it the perfect early-90s movie, these five things certainly do:
1.) Kristy Swanson
No actress defines the early-90s era like Kristy Swanson. Buffy the Vampire Slayer came along at the height of her celebrity, a period where she starred in comedy classics like Mannequinn: On the Movie, Hot Shots! and The Chase.
After 1994, Kristy Swanson basically fell off the face of the planet, quite possibly because of her attempt at a dramatic turn in John Singleton’s Higher Learning. Even a Playboy photoshoot in 2002 couldn’t get people’s attention. The early-90s were the best of times for Ms. Swanson.
2.) Denim, Vests and Denim Vests
If you are to understand and appreciate early-90s fashion, then you must watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In its short 86-minute runtime, the film features the entirety of the era’s fashion. There’s enough denim and floral print clothing in this movie to cover the world twice over. Hell, even the denim has flower patches on it.
And of course, there are the vests. Now we’re not talking the cute, but tame vest we see today on the cast of Pretty Little Liars. No, these vests go the full-Blossom.
At one point they converge in the ultimate floral-patched, denim vest that truly made the early-90s what they were.
3.) Hilary Swank’s Hair
Eighties hair looked like this:
Nineties hair looked like this:
But in between the big, bold, beautiful and the sassy, sleek, the was a time when hair looked like this:
Of course, this wouldn’t be the end of Hilary Swank’s bad hair half decade. She would follow up Buffy with this bangtastic look in The Next Karate Kid:
4.) Luke Perry
Like Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry would never be bigger than he was in 1992. He was two years into playing sexy bad boy Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills 90210. And he brought that attitude to the part of Pike, overreaching to the point where he’s just gross for about two-thirds of the movie, only to finally clean-up nicely in the third act. Still, when all his sexiness is unleashed, you really feel the power of the early-90s.
5.) The Soundtrack
A music critic may dismiss the Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack as a mish-mash of some of the worst pop/rock/rap of the early-90s. But there’s something special about any movie/soundtrack that opens up with C & C Music Factory’s “Keep It Comin’.”
In the movie, there are songs by Susanna Hoffs, The Cult and Mary’s Danish, as well as a training montage that features The Divinyls cover of “I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore.” (Sadly "In the Wind" by War Babies and "Inner Mind" by Eon. were excluded from the Original Soundtrack album.)
By the time Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Little Heaven” plays under Pike’s big entrance at the Senior Dance, you’re ready to go out and get a Sony Discman so you can listen to the soundtrack on CD… just like it should be.