‘Hell Yeah!’ is an ongoing series in which horror filmmakers, critics and fans share their take on movies they love. This month: vampires!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer brought a new dimension to the vampire oeuvre. Based on the campy feature film of the same name, the Buffy television series managed to maintain the humorous aspects while still offering a satisfying "bite." The vampires in the show were humanized. They were full-formed characters who had interests outside of sucking blood and listening to Bauhaus.
The most well-known Buffy vampire was Angel. In the Buffyverse, vampires had no souls, which was what made them able to rip apart innocent humans without care. But Angel had a soul, which made him all sensitive and brooding, far before Twilight was in vogue. Personally, I found Angel far more interesting when he reverted into Angelus, which is evil Angel without a soul.
My favorite vampires were Spike and Drusilla, aptly described as the Sid and Nancy of vampires. Spike was a bleach-blonde badass with a sexy Billy Idol snarl, always equipped with a sarcastic comment. Dru was simply batshit crazy, lost in her own insanity, a Mark Ryden character come to life. They were the perfect couple, completely devoted to each other – except for when they were written out of the show and Spike came back a season later, Dru having run off with someone or run away chasing a butterfly or some such nonsense. Then Spike became obsessed with Buffy – even building a Buffybot – and learned to love despite his lack of a soul. He lost his Sid Vicious edge and became far more Johnny Rotten – still pretty cool, but lacking that certain hard edge.
Another important vampire was Darla (portrayed by Julie Benz, who currently stars in another blood-soaked hit, Dexter). Darla was the first vampire seen on Buffy, yet most of her vampirey-goodness took place on Angel. Darla was sired by season one "big bad" The Master (catchy name, Joss), later sired Angel, and was known to wear a sexy Catholic school girl outfit.
Despite his boring name, The Master is quite important in the Buffyverse. The first "big bad" – aka main villain – and lasting a full season, The Master reminded me of Freddy Krueger. He was vicious with his kills, had fucked-up skin, and a biting sense of humor. When he kills Buffy, he does it with a smile and a compliment: "By the way... I like your dress."
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was widely ridiculed upon premiere. It had an absurd title and a premise that was more Beverly Hills 90210 than Interview With the Vampire. The laughter went away by season two, it was respected by season four, and is now considered an important entry in the vampire canon.