Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Extremely popular, two-time Emmy-winning television series created by Joss Whedon about the adventures of “the One Girl, the Chosen One of each generation,” selected as the Slayer and responsible for ridding the world of VAMPIRES, DEMONS,and other forces of darkness. Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired from March 1997 to May 2003. The show’s clever writing; inside allusions to past or future episodes, movies, and books; appealing cast; and the defeat of vampires much different from BRAM STOKER’s Dracula or ANNE RICE’s Lestat gave rise to worldwide fans, a host of Internet sites, merchandise, and even scholarly articles on Buffy’s themes, symbolism, and universe: the “Buffyverse.”

Unlike past VAMPIRE HUNTERS, Buffy Anne Summers does not fight evil alone but is supported by her friends Willow, Xander, and Oz, joined by others as the show progresses. Her Watcher, Giles, posing as a high school librarian, tutors her and the others in slayage, weaponry, self-defense, and recognition of monsters and demons. Angel, a vampire who was given a soul in a GYPSY curse and falls deeply in love with Buffy, helps the teens hunt demons and struggles with the memories of his horrific past. He leaves BtVS in the third season to form his own demon-hunting firm, Angel Investigations, and star in a spin-off, ANGEL. The first three seasons of BtVS take place in Sunnydale High School, which serves as a metaphor for Hell with its cliques of popular girls and jocks tormenting the geeks, while the final four years are set in Sunnydale University, a haven for mad professors, difficult roommates, and unfaithful lovers. Buffy overcomes most of these trials with cunning and a great fashion sense, but not always: Over the seven-year series she loses friends, family and, even her life—twice.

First the Movie

Before Academy Award– and Emmy-nominated creator Joss Whedon (Toy Story, Alien: Resurrection) took Buffy to series TV, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the big screen in 1992, a predictable film in which Whedon introduces the Buffy concept: A beautiful, blond young woman, usually a victim in horror or slasher films, fights back. Kristy Swanson plays Buffy, a typical Southern California airhead interested only in boys, clothes, shopping, and cheerleading. But fate shows her a different path when the mysterious Merrick (Donald Sutherland) explains that she is the Slayer and begins teaching Buffy the fine art of vampire extermination. Her main adversary, Lothos (Rutger Hauer), is convincingly menacing but is not as exciting as Buffy’s later TV nemeses. The best villain is Amilyn, played with camp humor by Paul Reubens, better known as Pee Wee Herman. Smaller parts are filled by young actors who command much meatier roles now, such as Ben Affleck, Hilary Swank, David Arquette, and Luke Perry.

Then the Television Series

Whedon did not feel the movie adequately explored the Buffy concept, whereas with television he had the creative freedom to expand plots, flesh out the characters, and play with the villains. None of the actors from the movie transferred to the TV show. Sarah Michelle Gellar became the new Buffy. She and her mother, Joyce (Kristine Sutherland), move from Los Angeles to the suburban town of Sunnydale, where Buffy might have an easier time at a smaller high school. Joyce doesn’t know that Buffy has a different destiny:

In every generation there is a chosen one.
She alone will stand against the vampires,
The demons and the forces of darkness.
She is the Slayer.

Unfortunately for Buffy and Joyce, Sunnydale is a hotbed of demonic activity situated on a Hellmouth: a portal into the abyss. In medieval plays, a large skeleton of a whale’s jaw often represented the Hellmouth, and demons would enter the stage from the orifice accompanied by smoke or fetid smells. Sunnydale’s Hellmouth is under the high school. The original pilot never aired. Unlike the eventual show, the pilot Buffy had brown hair and was ditzier. The school was called Berryman, and the friends’ school hangout, the library, was enormous. Some of the plot elements, such as finding a dead student’s body in a locker, were kept for the real first episode, “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” which aired on March 10, 1997, on the WB network.

From: the Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters – Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley -a leading expert on the paranormal -Copyright © 2005 by Visionary Living, Inc.