Before the series, there was this.
In 1992, Joss Whedon wrote a script for a movie called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The plot should be very familiar to a lot of us: a Valley Girl named Buffy finds out that she is The Chosen One. An old British guy named Merrick trains her to become "the Slayer." Her job is to fight a bunch of vampires. Like the series it would later spawn, the Buffy movie was intended as a subversion of the usual "Damsel in Distress" roles that young women usually fill in horror movies. 20th Century Fox picked it up and turned it into a movie.
The end results... weren't really what Joss planned. The original script intended the film to be a serious metaphor of female empowerment with a comedic bent, but the director (Fran Rubel Kuzui) turned the film into an outright comedy.
Five years later, we got the well-known series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the rest is history. Though the film did initially have a hand in making it more recognizable since some people did remember the character from the movie, the TV version of the character swiftly and almost entirely eclipsed the original. The events of the film itself still canonically occurred in Broad Strokes in the regular Buffyverse — but more specifically those of the original screenplay, not the released movie. Though there isn't much difference, the original screenplay is more drama-based, and only Merrick's fate and the climax of the film (in which Buffy traps the vampires in a gym and burns it down) are major factors shared between the two versions.
The original screenplay would later be adapted in the comic series as "The Origin".
This film provides examples of:
- '80s Hair: Buffy has this at the beginning of the movie, when she's out shopping with her friends (in this case, it's actually more late-80's hair).
- Accidental Athlete: Buffy discovers her untapped fighting prowess when she punches Merrick in the nose during a tantrum.
- Accidental Misnaming: Pike is mistakenly called "Polk" at one point. When Buffy's mother mistakenly calls Buffy's boyfriend Jeffrey "Bobby," it's pointed out as an illustration of her lack of meaningful involvement in Buffy's life (see Hands-Off Parenting).
- Action Dress Rip: Actually starts out with overtones of Comedic Underwear Exposure. Pike tries to keep Buffy from pursuing the vampires at the dance but tears her ball gown in the process, exposing her legs and petticoats. But Pike promptly makes up for his mistake by lending Buffy his large black leather jacket to cover herself. Voila, back to badass mode!
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: After Buffy stakes the vampire in the alleyway, she and Merrick have a conversation where he opens up about what it's like to have to train a Slayer and then send her out to face the vampires, over and over down the centuries.
- Action Girl: The original intent of the film was to take a typical horror film's 'Dumb Blonde' who either dies first or only survives because she's the hero's love interest, and make her the Chosen One of Destiny, while the Cool Loser that she 'surprisingly' falls in love with, who would ordinarily become the Chosen One, takes her place as the film's Damsel in Distress.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Buffy boasts that she is going to succeed where all of her predecessors failed because she has something none of them ever had. When Merrick demands to know what this mysterious power is, Buffy replies: "My keen fashion sense." This causes Merrick to remark that, yeah, that's really going to frighten vampires. But instead of getting angry, Buffy laughs - not so much because the line itself was funny as because of the surprise of someone as supposedly humorless as Merrick actually cracking a joke. This would, however, later be turned into a plot point in the TV series, where characters will occasionally be able to identify vampires by their dated hair and wardrobe and, of course with Buffy's use of hair spray in the climax.
- Aerosol Flamethrower: Buffy employs one against Lothos in the climax.Lothos: So this is your defense? Your puny faith? (he grasps the crucifix; it bursts into flame.)Buffy: No. My keen fashion sense. (she pulls a can of hair spray out of her purse.)
- A God Am I:
- Grueller, one of Buffy's friends turned vampire, proclaims himself as this before he's immediately staked from behind by Pike of all people.Buffy: You were my friend.
Grueller: And now I'm a god!
[Pike stakes him]
Pike: And now you're a coatrack.
- The vampire Amilyn, now having only one hand, makes a similar declaration...Amilyn: We're immortal, Buffy. We can do anything!Buffy: Oh yeah? Clap.
- Grueller, one of Buffy's friends turned vampire, proclaims himself as this before he's immediately staked from behind by Pike of all people.
- Allergic to Evil: A Slayer gets pains similar to menstrual cramps when a vampire is near.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Buffy's gal-pals gradually turn into this once it becomes clear that something's up with Buffy.
- Almost Dead Guy:
- Merrick, mortally wounded by Lothos, lasts just long enough to reassure Buffy that he approves of her and to dispense a piece of cryptic advice that will come in handy later.
- Amilyn campily milks his death scene for almost a minute. He's still going during the credits.
- Amusement Park of Doom: Amilyn (the "Pee-Wee Herman" vampire) attacks one of his victims from atop a merry-go-round horse.
- Arrow Catch: Buffy catches a dagger that's thrown at her — by Merrick, to prove to her that she has Slayer reflexes.
- Ballroom Blitz: Lothos's teenaged hordes crash the school dance in the climax. The deejay at the event must have somehow known they were coming, because just before they arrive he puts on Ozzy Osbourne's "Party With the Animals."
- Berserk Button: You would be wise not to throw anything sharp at a Slayer's face (or grab her butt). Or to tear the jacket of a well-dressed vampire henchman.
- Big Bad: Lothos, an ancient vampire with a love of killing Slayers.
- Big Damn Heroes: Buffy appears out of seemingly nowhere to rescue Pike in the park, just as he is about to be beaten to a pulp by a vampire thug.
- Birthmark of Destiny: Buffy had one, but since it took on the appearance of a hairy mole, she had it surgically removed.
- Bittersweet Ending: As a result of the decision to (reluctantly) embrace her destiny, Buffy has by the end of the film lost her mentor, her boyfriend, the respect of her peers, and the carefree teenage life she had once enjoyed. This doesn't stop her from triumphing over the vampires, of course, but we still have a Bittersweet Ending because all that's left is good ol' Pike and his motorcycle.
- Black Like Me: Merrick prompts Buffy to remember the time she dreamed she was a slave on a plantation in the South during the slavery days - the implication being that she'd have to have been black or part black, or have been suspected of being so.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Not quite, but we do have the quartet of Buffy (blonde), Jennifer (light brunette or strawberry blonde, so effectively redheaded), Kimberly (medium brunette), and Nicki (dark brunette).
- Brainless Beauty: Buffy begins the film as one but she matures out of it. Her vapid friends on the other hand remain airheads throughout. (One of them ends up getting killed by the vampires.) Looking at the whole film in context, it's not hard to surmise that Buffy was never that stupid to begin with, and was play-acting in order to be accepted by her dumb but "cool" friends.
- Broad Strokes: A retroactive version, the original screenplay was more drama oriented (not without humor but not as much seen here) while the movie goes the opposite direction, turning it into a more horror comedy and changed some aspects of the story as well (Merrick kills himself in the original story, Buffy burns down the gym in the climax to stop the vampires, etc). A series-canonical comic book was later written to work the essentials of the movie's storyline into the Buffyverse's backstory and mythology, essentially turning the movie version into this.
- Buffy Speak: Ironically, mostly averted here (which, yes, technically makes it an Unbuilt Trope). Joss Whedon took pains to make the dialogue for the original script quite witty, and you can still hear a lot of this in the film. Then again, Buffy does describe a Virginia plantation (one of her Past-Life Memories) as a "big farm."
- But Not Too Black: Nicki, a minor member of Buffy's Girl Posse.
- The Cameo: Actress Ricki Lake appears as a waitress.
- Camp Gay: Amilyn has touches of this. (Is it any wonder he's got a feminine-sounding name?)
- Canon Discontinuity: Slightly, a canonical comic book named Slayer: The Origin would take over as the proper origin as stated by Joss Whedon himself, albeit using a few elements from the original screenplay, not the movie itself. Though the story is still the same just different in terms of characterization and tone, so think of the movie as a rough draft of sorts.
- Captain Crash:
- Pike, who accidentally crashes his van into a tree. He even makes the "any-crash-you-can-walk-away-from-doesn't-count" excuse.
- Buffy also, in one scene where she drives a motorcycle into a wall (she jumps clear just in time).
- Captain Obvious:
- "One vampire is easier to kill than many vampires." (lampshaded)
- "That is definitely not a student." (said of Lothos)
- "How can you not tread on the earth? You kind of have to."
- Casting Gag: The Big Bad of the movie was a vampire played by Rutger Hauer. Anne Rice had originally envisioned Hauer as Lestat when she wrote The Vampire Chronicles, but by the time Interview with the Vampire was filmed in the early 90s, she said he was too old to play Lestat.
- The Cavalry: In the climax, Pike returns Buffy's favor by breaking Buffy out of a spell she has fallen under just before she is to be "turned" by Lothos.
- Cessation of Existence: Buffy might have believed this to be her ultimate fate before meeting Merrick, who believes in Heaven, since she tells him that "all I wanna do is graduate from high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die" - with no implication that anything lies in store for her after that. Ironically, it could be argued that Merrick himself suffers this, since after being stabbed by Lothos, he simply passes away and becomes a corpse; even though the fantasy setting could conceivably allow him to reappear to Buffy as a ghost or a disembodied voice after his death, he's just...gone, and after Buffy and Pike bury him the film more or less forgets he ever existed.
- Chain-Link Fence: When Buffy is on a motorbike chasing a vampire, he goes over a chain link fence in the traditional manner. She goes back around the building and picks up the trail, and the chase continues.
- Characterization Marches On:
- Buffy is nearly unrecognisable from her series counterpart, being a perky, ditzy cheerleader more akin to Cordelia Chase.
- Buffy's unnamed mother is a yuppie, the polar opposite of Joyce Summers.
- Chekhov's Gun: Buffy's "Keen Fashion Sense" does indeed let her succeed where other Slayers have failed.
- Child Hater: With the exception of Merrick, Lothos and his minions are never shown attacking anyone over the age of 18.
- The Chosen One: A Slayer can be identified by a characteristic mole (except Buffy had hers removed), recurring dreams of her past incarnations, and by her instinctive combat reflexes. Merrick tests that last one by throwing a knife at Buffy's face, which she would not have been able to catch if she didn't have a Slayer's abilities to draw uponnote .
- Cloudcuckoolander: The basketball coach. Even he probably couldn't explain those weird symbols on his writing board.
- The Comically Serious: Merrick. Although even he manages to get in a few zingers.
- Confused Bystander Interview: The closing credits include a montage of confused bystander interviews. At the very end, it's revealed that the news reporter herself can't even guess what happened.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Merrick wears one when he goes looking for Buffy at the beginning. Between that and his fancy hat, "devil" beard, and spookily whispering voice, you really can't blame Buffy for being suspicious at first. A similar scene later on is even more eyebrow-raising. A basketball game is being played in the gym, and Merrick surreptitiously makes his way into the bleachers and sits down to keep watch over Buffy as she performs her cheerleading routine. Yeah, an older man in a trenchcoat whom no one has ever seen before sitting down by himself to watch a few dozen scantily-clad teenagers run and jump around...
- Cool Old Guy: Merrick, who is played by Donald Sutherland, Kiefer's dad.
- The Cover Changes the Gender: The Divinyls covered the Young Rascals' "Aint Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" for this movie, and it plays during Buffy's Training Montage (and again over the closing credits). In the context of the film, then, "Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" becomes an "I Am Becoming" Song.
- Creative Closing Credits: We get a montage of various minor characters appearing on the TV news, giving their own....idiosyncratic interpretations of the chaos at the school dance.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Buffy.
- Damned by Faint Praise: Apparently, the best review the marketers could find for the back of the DVD case was “Loads of teen appeal!”
- Dare to Be Badass: Merrick gives this ultimatum to Buffy, albeit with the admission that it's pretty much his fault she's been put on the spot. (He had a hard time finding her.)
- Dark Is Not Evil: Merrick.
- Deadpan Snarker: Pike. It helps that he's played by Luke Perry at his most laconic.
- Decoy Damsel: A rare heroic example, with Buffy pretending to be frightened in order to lure a vampire into a blind alley so she can kill it.
- Deer in the Headlights: Buffy.
- Delusions of Eloquence: "Are you addressing I?"
- Developing Doomed Characters: In order to more sharply contrast the essential frivolity of these kids' existences with the Gothic adventure soon to come.
- Dirty Coward: Granted, Buffy's "friends" were not very admirable people to begin with. But it becomes clear how thoroughly rotten they are when the vampires storm the gym at the climax and one of them throws another girl out the window so she'll get eaten instead. Dick move, lady, dick move.
- Disproportionate Retribution: "You ruined my new jacket!....KILL HIM A LOT!" (Of course, Amilyn has also lost his arm, but he doesn't seem to care about that.)
- Dull Surprise:
- Kristy Swanson (at least in 1992) is one of those performers who can make Keanu Reeves seem like a Large Ham. Lampshaded subtly in the scene of Buffy making her first kill, where she (unenthusiastically) feigns fear in order to lure in the vampire she's been tracking: "Boy, I'm feeling really helpless." She fools no one but the vampire.
- Donald Sutherland's disdain for the material is on full display, especially during his death scene.
- Dumb Blonde: Perhaps not dumb as such but this version of Buffy is rather more ditzy than the one you're used to ... in fact the character she resembles the most (from the show) is probably Cordelia. Buffy in the series does once remark that she used to be very much like Cordelia, and a flashback from Angel's perspective also seems to show her as popular and shallow prior to the whole Slayer business.
- The Dung Ages: The medieval European setting that figures in Buffy's Flashback Nightmare looks appropriately filthy and barbaric, even to the point that the usually refined Lothos shows up as a grimy, bearded derelict. A notable exception is Buffy's counterpart, who looks exactly the same as Buffy does in the twentieth century; she isn't even Hollywood Homely!
- Early-Installment Weirdness: There are numerous differences in the mythology of the movie and the series:
- Vampires cannot transform their faces, can fly or at least levitate, and do not crumble into dust when killed;
- Buffy's ability to detect vampires gives her cramps and each Slayer has a distinctive birthmark;
- Merrick refers to being hundreds of years old, having lived many lives training many slayers, whereas in the series watchers are mortal.
- Buffy's parents are together and are unamed yuppies. Her mother in particular is nothing like what Joyce would be.
- Buffy's age and history are dissimilar, as she is a senior in high school in the film and the series starts with her as a sophomore.
- We have the implications that Buffy is the reincarnation of the former slayers with her having dreams of her past lives played by the same actress. In the series, reincarnation is never alluded and the slayer lineage immediatly goes to a currently living potential after the former slayer dies.
- Exact Eavesdropping: Benny, turned into vampire by this point, overhears that Buffy is the dreaded vampire slayer while ironically hiding in a photobooth (remember vampires don't have reflections). He would go on to report this to Lothos.
- Failed a Spot Check: Absolutely no one, save Buffy and Merrick, notices something wrong with Grueller when he shows up at the basketball game despite having pale skin, pointy ridges on his ears, him talking in a creepy deep tone or the noticeable fangs in his mouth even when he's clearly revealing them. Most people’s reactions are that he's acting weird or are just slightly creeped out by him, but nothing beyond that.
- Faint in Shock: Love interest Pike (not to be confused with Spike from the TV series) faints several times over the course of the film, to the point where it becomes a running gag.
- Final Girl: This movie is based on this subverted. The character who would normally be the final girl in any other horror is the first victim, While the ditsy blonde who is normally dead before the title survives the whole movie.
- Flashback Nightmare: Buffy repeatedly dreams about her previous unsuccessful incarnations, though she doesn't know what the dreams mean until Merrick shows up.
- Foreshadowing: In the school counselor's office, Buffy kills a fly by spitting a dart at it while bored.
- Girl Posse: Buffy and her fellow mall rats.
- Good is Not Nice:
- Merrick. He mocks Buffy, gives her condescending little lectures, and comes close to killing her in trying to prove a point.
- Come to think of it, the title character herself. Because, let's face it, you wouldn't be too thrilled about hiring someone nicknamed "The Slayer" to babysit your kids.
- Groin Attack: Implied with the weiner scene (see Something Else Also Rises) and Buffy showing her annoyance at Merrick chucking a knife at her head by jamming it into the bench he's sitting on right in front of his groin. The usually stoic Merrick visibly flinches.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Buffy's parents, summed up in an exchange between Buffy, her boyfriend, and her mother:Buffy's mother: [leaving the house] Bye-bye, Bobby!Jeffrey: Bye! [to Buffy] She thinks my name is Bobby?Buffy: It's possible she thinks my name is Bobby.
- Heroic BSoD: Buffy is at first so afraid of Lothos that she experiences one of these the first time she meets him face to face (outside of her nightmares, that is). It costs Merrick his life.
- Hero Stole My Bike: When Buffy is chasing a vampire to stop it telling Lothos who she is, she passes a group of bikers:Biker: Hey babe, you want to get some real power between your legs?
Buffy: Yeah, I do. [beats the guy up and steals his motorbike]
- Hey, Wait!: When Buffy comes home late after her first slaying, her mother latches onto her and asks "Do you know what time it is?" — but it's not a guilt-trip question, she genuinely wants to know, and hasn't even noticed that Buffy's just got home.
- Hippie Teacher: Mr. Murray, the school guidance counselor.
- Come to think of it, much of Hemery High itself seems to operate on a Bourgeois Bohemian kick. The theme of the Amazonian-themed dance, for example, is "Hug the World."
- The Hyena: Benny (Pike's friend) becomes this after he is turned into a vampire. (Okay, so he was sort of like that even as a human. But after the vampires got to him, he got worse.)
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Literal in this case! Pike accidentally rips off the (apparent) southpaw vampire Amilyn's left arm by suddenly crashing a fast-moving van while Amilyn's arm is stick through the roof, and later taunts him about it. Amilyn responds simply by grabbing Pike with his right arm, easily hauling him off the ground, and throwing him several yards through the air.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Merrick's justification for throwing a knife at Buffy to reveal her as The Chosen One. (Buffy easily catches the weapon, but she's still mad.)
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Attempted when Buffy confronts Gruller and tries to reason with him. But it's clear the vampirism has changed his morality and the friend she knew is just an undead monster now.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Not only Buffy but Merrick as well, who'd love to be a bootmaker.
- Improvised Weapon: Buffy's "keen fashion sense" serves her well as she manages to blast a fireball in Lothos's face with can of hairspray by spraying some of the stuff on a flaming cross.
- Insult Backfire: In a moment of frustration, Buffy launches into a whiny rant that culminates with her referring to Pike as "a strange man." Pike, looking surprised, asks her, "You think I'm a man?"
- Katanas Are Just Better
- Killed Offscreen: Oddly we rarely see people bitten in the film with Benny being the only one killed on-sceen via Amilyn. Grueller and Cassandra are killed offscreen, the movie cutting to another scene when they're about to be drained. Cassandra's body is at least confirmed by Buffy's classmates to be found in the Hills, presumed to have been dead for a week. We only get a confrontation of Grueller's death and turning when he shows up at the championship game as a vampire. Cassandra herself later turning up as one of the vampires that confronts Buffy outside the prom (still in the yellow leather jacket that Buffy loaned her, which actually belonged to Kimberley and Buffy didn’t have permission to loan it to someone else)
- Large and in Charge: Lothos is a tall man, especially for the era when he originally lived (the early medieval period). He's a giant compared to Buffy and all of his vampire henchmen - the latter of which isn't too impressive, since the gang is composed almost entirely of scrawny teenagers.
- Large Ham: All the vampires. All of them. (Though Amilyn takes the cake with his prolonged death scene.)
- Last-Name Basis: "Pike."
- Let's Get Dangerous!: After spending nearly half the movie whining, cracking jokes, and generally not taking anything seriously, Buffy finally gets down to brass tacks and starts punching, kicking, judo-flipping, stabbing, etc.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to Whedon's original script where it was more drama then humor. The movie is considered this for the TV series.
- Lint Value: Buffy and her Valley Girl friends watch Pike and his buddy deposit a handful of change on the table at a diner and ask if the amount is sufficient for pie.
- Look Behind You: "Look! Air!" (And he does!)
- Long-Lasting Last Words: The second vampire staked by Buffy spends the rest of the movie writhing around, even to the end credits.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Buffy is definitely one of Hemery High's elite, but for the most part she is a genuinely nice person who presides over the school with a benevolent hand. The true Alpha Bitch of this film would be Buffy's treacherous second-in-command, Jennifer, who woos away Buffy's Jerk Jock boyfriend when she's not looking.
- Mentor Archetype: Merrick.
- Metaphorgotten: This chant, apparently written by Buffy or one of the other cheerleaders: "How funky is your chicken?..../How loose is your goose?..../So come on, all you Hog fans..../And shake your caboose!" (So, is the chant about chickens, geese, pigs, or trains?)
- Ms. Fanservice: Buffy suffers some wonderful Clothing Damage when Pike grabs her dress as she's running off to chase the vampires.
- Mugging the Monster: Jeffrey’s friend Andy learns this the hard way when he grabs Buffy's rear end (as a joke, though Buffy does not take it that way!)
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Buffy doesn't look very physically formidable. But she is.
- My Car Hates Me: Pike's van, when the vampires are after him.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: "Hey, you got teenybopper bubblegum all over my Gothic horror!" "Well, you got Gothic horror all over my teenybopper bubblegum!"
- Noblewoman's Laugh: Grueller laughs quite haughtily after successfully springing a trap on Buffy at the parade float yard.
- Non-Action Guy: Somewhat averted with Pike (Luke Perry). He does possess rudimentary fighting skills and even gets to kill a couple of vampires himself. For the most part, though, he's a Reckless Sidekick. Buffy even informs him at one point that he shouldn't keep following her around.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Almost literally invoked by Buffy: "Do you know what it's like when everything's suddenly different?" (Fortunately, she turns out to be wrong; see Take a Third Option below.)
- Not in This for Your Revolution: Buffy initially agrees to become a Slayer not for the good of her community but for deeply personal reasons (i.e., she has terrifying nightmares about vampires and hopes to gain enough courage to cause the nightmares to stop). Pike, too, at first plans on skipping town after learning that there are vampires about - but after they attack him, it becomes personal.
- Not Quite Dead: Amilyn (yet).
- Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Buffy and Pike roaring off toward the horizon on Pike's motorcycle in a romantic scene as Susanna Hoffs's cover of "We Close Our Eyes" plays.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Cassandra after she awakens in Lothos's vampire lair, with Amilyn standing over her. Followed by seeing Lothos floating in the air and flying down towards her.
- Amilyn flashes one just before he gets hit in the face by a tree branch. His wide-eyed shock when Lothos reveals he won’t save him (at the end of the film) qualifies as well.
- Buffy during the championship game when she realizes Grueller's been turned and nearly attacks some of the visiting team.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: We hear a bit of this in scenes set in Lothos's lair, and again at the climax.
- Our Vampires Are Different: With the obvious exception of Lothos, the bloodsuckers in this flick look a lot more like stereotypical 1980s delinquents (black leather, "punk" hairstyles, etc.) than the caped continentals of old. Thena gain this was kind of the point, they were vampires of the modern era and a majority of them are teenagers (ironically this was before leather became a common association with vampires). Clothing aside they do have more monstrous features then usual. (Pale skin, mutated bat-like ears, etc) They also don't cast reflections nor can they even be captured on film and unlike the series, they can fly and don't turn to dust when they die.
- Parental Neglect: Buffy's parents come off as self-absorbed yuppie types who always seem to be running off to yet another social event. They're almost never at home, take little notice of Buffy when they are home, and don't seem to care when their daughter has been staying out all night in a town where vampires are hardly the only unsavory characters roaming the streets after dark.
- Past-Life Memories: It is said that each new Slayer is the same Slayer, reincarnated as long as there are vampires to fight, and Buffy has dreams of her past lives. Merrick gets all his knowledge from his previous incarnations, making him effectively immortal and not liking it.
- Ping Pong Naďveté: If Buffy knows how to start up a motorcycle, how come she doesn't know how to brake?
- Maybe she thought jumping off the bike without stopping would be faster, so she could find Grueller faster?
- Pointy Ears: The vampires here sport bat-like ones.
- Politically Incorrect Villain:
- A biker can be heard shouting "Dyke!" at Buffy after she knocks him down and steals his ride. Granted, Buffy isn't gay, but it fits the trope just the same.
- After he gives up on wooing Buffy over to the dark side, Lothos calls her "bitch" nearly every time he opens his mouth.
- Pragmatic Hero: Buffy and Pike seem pretty comfortable with remorselessly slaughtering their classmates — some of whom they know on a first-name basis — after the classmates are turned into vampires. This is softened somewhat when Buffy admits late in the film that if she had the choice she wouldn't want to kill anyone, even a vampire. Well that and the fact that said classmates become instantly evil after becoming vampires. The film even addresses this when Buffy has to chase down childhood friend Grueller when he nearly attacks the other players during a basketball game. Even pleading with him to remember the times they shared when he was human. But it is clear that, while he is still a bit a goof, Grueller is too Drunk on the Dark Side of his vampirism to listen to reason and a threat to everyone around him.
- Protagonist Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Power Floats: While not shown often, the vampires have the power to float. Though in the film there's only three cases where it happens (Benny flying outside Pike's loft, Lothos floating down after Amilyn introduces Cassandra to him and Grueller hovering down after preforming a slam dunk at the homecoming game).
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "You threw a knife at my head!"....You threw a knife - at my head!"
- Pushed at the Monster: In the climax when the vampires attack the dance. Nicki, of the valley girls, comes to Kimberly's aid by managing to stake a vampire at a window and pull her away. Only to get grabbed by another and pulled through while Kimberly does nothing in turn other then watch.
- "Rashomon"-Style: During the credits, everyone at the dance give off their own accounts on what happened.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Late in the film, Buffy tries to explain to her three friends what is going on. When they don't listen, she reveals how disgusted she has become with the pointless, shallow lifestyle they've all been leading. Although Buffy implicates herself in the accusation, the other girls just think that she's attacking them and become angry.
- Refused the Call: Buffy, distressed after Merrick's death.
- Reincarnation: Buffy and Merrick have both had hundreds of previous lives, always as Slayer and Watcher.
- Rise from Your Grave: In order to prove to Buffy that vampires are real. Merrick takes her to the local cemetery and to a recently buried person, citing that the victim died of blood loss but no one was sure how, surmising a vampire got to him. Sure enough the victim pulls himself from her grave, now a vampire and hungry. If that wasn't bad enough, it turns out he wasn't the only recent victim as a female vampire likewise awakens right underneath Buffy and tries to grab her. And Merrick knew this.
- Role Called: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Sadist: Lothos, an ancient vampire whose favourite hobby is killing Slayers. He does try to seduce them to the dark side first, but his manipulations are transparent and he usually gives up after the first try, immediately descending into misogyny. He also shows no care for his minions, mockingly playing the violin as his Dragon dies.
- Screaming Warrior:
- The normally demure Buffy occasionally punctuates her fighting maneuvers with a well-timed howl or grunt.
- Amilyn, too, growls and snarls maniacally as he is attacking Pike.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Deconstructed. As a Watcher, Merrick is not supposed to intervene on any Slayer's behalf, even if the Slayer's life is in danger. However, he eventually breaks this rule in order to save Buffy and Pike after Buffy loses it during a confrontation with Lothos (see Heroic BSoD above).... and, not being a trained vampire-hunter himself, gets killed almost immediately, sending Buffy into a funk and eventually into a 10-Minute Retirement.
- Sequel Non-Entity: Pike, despite being a major character in the film, never appears in the TV series, nor is he even mentioned. He does however return in the expanded universe in non-canon publications as well as the canon series "The Origin" which acts as a faithful adaptation of the original script.
- Shout-Out: Pike was most likely named after the main character of one of Whedon's favourite films, The Wild Bunch.
- Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Usually comfortably on the "comedy" end of the scale, though the scenes set in the vampires' lair are genuinely chilling.
- Something Else Also Rises: In a restaurant, Pike's friend Benny harasses Buffy by holding a frankfurter between his legs in front of her. She takes a knife and slices the wiener in two.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The soundtrack (which, typical of a 1990s Hollywood feature film, is crammed to bursting with a mix of standards and disposable pop hits) contains a great many songs that are decidedly out of place in a horror film, even a spoof one. Good examples are C+C Music Factory's rousing "Keep It Coming", which officially kicks off the film, and a calypso-like cover of "Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore", which, as sung by Christina Amphlett of the Divinyls, is reimagined as a feminist anthem, as noted above. At one point, Buffy herself briefly sings a Suspiciously Similar Song version of "Feelings"!
- Stab the Sky: Parodied. First you see a slayer in the past hold up a stake, then Buffy is holding up a pom-pom.
- Stepford Snarker: Buffy, at least during the first quarter of the film.
- The Stinger: After the credits Amilyn is still dying.
- Suggestive Collision: Buffy falling on Pike after killing vamps in the parade float yard.
- Super Breath: Buffy can spit a push-pin clear across the room so that it spears a fly and kills it (which presumably was not a skill she had prior to her slayer training)
- Take a Third Option: Merrick wants Buffy to act the part of a serious-minded warrior. Everyone else expects her to be just a fun-loving teenage girl. Buffy doesn't see any reason why she can't be both.
- Take That!: "They had this look in their eyes - totally cold, animal. I think they were young Republicans."
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: "Now I'm really pissed off."
- Took a Level in Badass: After spending the majority of the film as a bumbling Non-Action Guy, Pike imitates one of Buffy's jump-kick moves while fighting a vampire at the dance - and pulls it off.
- Training Montage: For Buffy.
- Transhuman Treachery: Pike's friend, Benny, and Buffy's friends, Grueller and Cassandra are turned into vampires and show no qualms about attacking them (their former friends) ain their undead states.
- Undeathly Pallor: Vampires have chalk white skin in this story, along with mutated bat like ears, it makes them easy to spot.
- Upper-Class Twit: Buffy's parents aren't quite this, but they act like it. (One throwaway line of dialogue suggests that Buffy's family will be coming into some serious money in the near future.)
- Vampires Are Sex Gods: Lothos, who tries to woo Buffy like this, if not for Merrick and his training, he likely would've succeeded.
- Vampire Monarch: Lothos in the film. Pretty obvious by his way of dress.
- Wall Slump: Amilyn, after he is skewered by Buffy.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Pike's dynamic with Buffy upon first meeting her.
- While Rome Burns: Thinking that no one - not even herself - can stop the vampires now that Merrick is dead and unable to give her confidence, Buffy temporarily abandons her mission and goes on a defiant shopping spree.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Merrick cannot die a natural death until all the vampires in the world have been destroyed. In an Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene, he poignantly tells Buffy that he looks forward to the day when he will finally be allowed to enter Heaven.
- Wicked Cultured: Lothos.
- World of Snark: This is set in early 1990s suburban L.A., after all.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Lothos to Amilyn, without a word. Lothos plays a violin, then gives Amilyn a very unsympathetic smile, with a slight shake of the head "no". Then Amilyn gets killed.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Kind of. We know that Lothos survives having his head engulfed by fire, but Buffy doesn't.