When fans first met Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she wasn’t the pop culture-referencing and sharp-witted Sarah Michelle Gellar that we know and love today. She was actually the bubble gum-chewing cheerleader Kristy Swanson who hung around mentor Donald Sutherland, the man who trained her how to go up against bad vampires Rutger Hauer and Paul Reubens.
The first iteration of Buffy occurred in 1992 with a movie that most fans of the TV series like to pretend didn’t exist. The movie, a comedy, was so bad that it often gets roasted by fans and movie critics alike. It remains important, though, because it did help launch the beloved television series.
In the movie, Buffy is an airheaded high school girl who discovers that she is a slayer, part of an ancient order meant to kill vampires. Her mentor, Merrick (Sutherland), trains her so that she can uncover a nefarious plot hashed by an evil vampire King. It’s the same plot as the TV series, but done in an entirely different (and horrible) way. But although almost every Buffy fan knows the movie, there are probably some facts that they aren’t aware of.
Here are 16 Shocking Things You Didn’t Know About The Terrible Buffy Movie.
16. Joss Whedon vs Donald Sutherland
One might think that having an A-list celebrity like Donald Sutherland on board a project would provide a very good opportunity for a project. For the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, though, writer Joss Whedon (who went on to give us the excellent Buffy TV series) absolutely hated working with the actor who portrayed Buffy’s mentor and Watcher, Merrick.
Sutherland had a habit of re-writing his lines in the movie, leading Whedon to later refer to the man as someone who was rude. Whedon never questioned Sutherland’s abilities as an actor, but he still states that he hated working with him, referring to it as a bad experience. Sutherland is also why later writers ended up changing Merrick’s story arc in the movie.
15. Seth Green was a vampire in a deleted scene
Most Buffy fans know actor Seth Green for his role on the TV series as the lovable werewolf, Oz. But what many fans might not know is that Green actually appeared in the Buffy movie way before that. What’s even more interesting is that in the movie, Green played a vampire. Fans never get to see that, though, because all of Green’s scenes as a vampire ended up on the cutting room floor. Fear not: those scenes exist on home video releases as deleted scenes for those who are interested in watching them.
14. Alyssa Milano was originally supposed to play Buffy
The Buffy movie might have looked and felt a lot different if casting directors had their first pick for the main character of Buffy. Originally, Whedon wanted Who’s The Boss actress Alyssa Milano to take the lead in the film. That didn’t happen, though, and the production cast Kristy Swanson instead. Milano went on to become one of the three leads in Charmed, a series that took inspiration from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
But the concept of watching a young Milano kicking vampire butt still remains firmly in fans’ minds as one of those “what could have been” things. Milano went on to have a full career, though Swanson did not. Perhaps fate knew what it was doing by making Milano dodge that bullet.
13. Whedon walked out during production
There were a lot of “creative differences” between Whedon, who wrote the original script for the movie, and everyone else involved with the Buffy film. Not only did Whedon have issues with Sutherland re-writing his role and changing the script, but there was also pressure from higher-ups during the making of the film to make it more of a comedy and less of the dark genre concept that we associate with the Buffy story from the TV series. Eventually, Whedon got fed up and walked away.
Whedon eventually returned to Buffy with the TV series, though, and, fortunately, got to create the character he initially imagined. He also worked with Dark Horse Comics on a Buffy graphic novel called The Origin, which used the original movie script that Whedon wrote.
12. In the original script, Buffy burned down the gym
At the end of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, something definitely does not happen: Buffy does not burn down her high school gym. Except that in the television series, Buffy mentions that she burned down the gym in the first season. The movie does sort of act as a prequel for the series, so what gives?
In the original script written by Whedon, the gym went up in flames, but that was yet one of many original plot points that never made it to the silver screen. Whedon used his original script as canon material for the TV series, so as far as fans are concerned, Buffy burned that gym, and all the vampires in it, to the ground. Because that’s what she does.
11. David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Cary Elwes were supposed to cameo as vampires
It seems that the studio had a lot of big plans for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, including some pretty big cameo roles. They blew their budget on getting guys like Rutger Hauer and Donald Sutherland on board, though, and perhaps that was all they were ever going to get.
The initial plan, though, was to add other celebrities in cameos as vampires. This included the likes of David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Cary Elwes. Obviously, those cameos never happened and the studio just had to cut that idea out of the script for time, as well as for budgetary reasons (probably more of the latter than the former). Still, the idea of seeing those three iconic celebrities onscreen as vampires is a fascinating one.
10. There was an attempted remake in 2009
Because Hollywood is often full of bad ideas and gets obsessed with reboots, someone actually thought that rebooting the Buffy movie was a good idea back in 2009. The idea was to reimagine the entire story, with new actors, a new plo,t and new direction without Whedon on board. The story would follow a new vampire slayer (not Buffy) as she learned about her powers and her destiny.
Although Warner Bros. got on board for the project, fans got lucky and it never happened. The idea is still hanging out there, so let’s hope that the studio doesn’t get bored enough to actually make it happen. Word is, though, that the script was so bad that the project is now on an indefinite hiatus.
9. Filming was rushed because of 90210
In the early 1990s, Buffy co-star Luke Perry was a hot commodity. He was stealing teen girls’ hearts and blowing their minds as Dylan on 90210. Dylan was a a tough rebellious teenager with a heart of gold, although Perry was well into his 20s at the time
. Perry was so important that the production schedule around Buffy the Vampire Slayer revolved around him. He only had a small window of time to film Buffy in, so the movie worked around that and rushed its schedule to accommodate having the heartthrob in the movie because Buffy needed a romantic interest. There was also a push to have the movie out by the following summer, so filming only lasted five weeks.
8. Future Batman Ben Affleck is in the movie
In a “blink and you might miss it” moment, the guy everyone now knows as Batman, Ben Affleck, actually appeared in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. So where is he?
There’s a scene with a basketball game where Affleck portrays one of the basketball players. He was only 19 years old at the time, and this was one of his first roles. Actress Hillary Swank also appears in the movie as one of Buffy’s ditzy friends.
Although the movie still stinks, it served as a credit for two of the potentially most talented actors in Hollywood back when no one knew their names. Sure, they didn’t get a lot of screen time, but perhaps this was the beginning of their stardom.
7. Robert Downey Jr. visited the set & told Luke Perry to “get over” his newfound fame
When it comes to being a heartthrob and the hottest commodity of a generation, Robert Downey Jr. knows a thing or two about celebrity. Although movie fans know him now as Tony Stark of Iron Man fame, Downey was a teen sensation back in the 1980s and 1990s. That means he knew what fame was all about.
It seems that Downey visited the set of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie and had a conversation with Luke Perry, who was the new It boy in Hollywood, thanks to his star quickly rising on 90210. “So you’re the man in town now, the new guy,” Downey told Perry. “Get over it.” It almost mirrors Stark telling Spider-Man the same thing, right? At the time, though, Perry thought it was “cool.”
6. The movie director gets credit for every episode of Buffy and Angel, even though she didn’t make them
Fans who paid attention to the opening credits of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show might find themselves surprised that the name Fran Rubel Kuzui came up as executive producer, although she had absolutely nothing to do with the TV series.
Kuzui is the person responsible for a lot of the script changes in the film because she was its director. Because she directed the movie and it still has ties to the TV series, she gets an Executive Producer credited for the TV show, as well as its spinoff Angle. And Joss Whedon must see that name come up on his beloved series in every single episode, even though they disagreed fundamentally on Buffy’s character and story.
5. The movie messed with the TV show’s continuity
There was the original script written by Whedon and the final version of the script that became the film. And those two scripts turned out as wildly different. When Whedon created the TV series, he used his original script (the version fans didn’t get to see in the movie) as a prequel to the series fans know and love. That’s why there are a lot of continuity and canon issues between the movie and the show.
However, The Origin graphic novel sought to fix a lot of that, by releasing a story that was much closer to what Whedon would have given fans in the movie had he been allowed to. He’s called the graphic novel canon, so you can read that and forget that the movie ever happened.
4. Whedon sold the movie to Dolly Parton’s production company in 1991
Here’s something that many Buffy fans might not know. The production company that owns the rights to the Buffy movie was owned by country music star Dolly Parton. Whedon sold the rights to her company, Sandollar, back in 1991.
Sandollar Productions was not only responsible for bringing Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the big screen, but also the Academy Award-winning documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, the TV series Babes, and the hit movies Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II. Sandollar Productions ended production after Parton’s partner, Sandy Gallin, retired in 2015.
3. In spite of its terribleness, the movie was a small success
Yes, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie was bad, although in some arenas, fans might argue that it was so bad that it was good. It was certainly funny (often unintentionally so) and now that some time has passed, it has achieved a certain cult-like status. It seems that almost everyone has seen it, in spite of its absolute terribleness.
The truth is that the movie had some modicum of box office success. It took in $16.6 million in the U.S., which doesn’t seem like a lot and definitely not enough to make it a blockbuster. But it only cost $9 million to create, so add in DVD sales and licensing for television, and the movie is arguably a small hit.
2. Amilyn (Paul Reubens) was originally female, to be played by Joan Chen
Although it’s still seen as a bad movie, one of the best parts of the Buffy movie is the character Amilyn, a vampire portrayed by Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman). Who could forget his awesome death scene in which the actor completely improvised? But that memorable scene might not have ever existed had the casting directors had their first choice for the character.
Initially, Amilyn was female, and the actress the production wanted for the part was Twin Peaks‘ Joan Chen. That certainly means that Amilyn started out as a completely different kind of character, but for some reason, Chen was unavailable. Reubens was ready to sign on, so the role got re-written for him. Perhaps that wasn’t an entirely bad thing.
1. In the original script, Merrick committed suicide
One of the continuity issues between the Buffy movie and the Buffy TV series is that Buffy arrives in Sunnydale without a Watcher. That’s because her previous Watcher, Merrick, committed suicide. Except that didn’t happen in the movie because Sutherland didn’t want it to happen.
However, the canon is this: Lothos attacked Merrick and Buffy. To prevent Lothos from siring him and reading his mind to find out where Buffy lived, Merrick pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head. This traumatized Buffy, though, to the point where she didn’t want to continue as a Slayer, but after Lothos attacked her school, she burned down all his vampires in the gym.
None of this happened in the movie because of script changes, but it’s all in The Origin graphic novel.
Do you have any trivia to share about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie? Leave it in the comments!
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