Everyone loves Buffy—the Joss Whedon-directed, Sarah Michelle-Gellar-starring ’90s TV show has become not only a frequently GIF-ed nostalgia treasure chest and cultural icon, but also a quintessential part of the Third Wave feminist canon. But what about the movie that started it all? Literally no one even likes it, let alone references it. The thing is though, without the 1992 movie (that turned 25 last week), our beloved Buffy wouldn’t exist. And neither would the ménage à trois of everyone’s dreams—Buffy, Angel and Spike, duh.
Starring Kristy Swanson and Donald Sutherland, with amazing cameos from Luke Perry, David Arquette and Hillary Swank, the plot of Buffy the movie is pretty much the same. Buffy is your average Valley Girl cheerleader living the letterman life until a rando approaches her and tells her she’s The Chosen One—a vampire slayer destined to rid the world of evil forces. What ensues is a much more comedic version of any standard Buffy episode, where she fights evil and cracks a bunch of witty jokes. Solid cinematic gold, right? Except pretty much everyone hated it. I don’t even know how Joss Whedon got the go ahead for the show. But, he did, and everyone was into it. And instead of boosting VHS (remember those?) rentals for the original, it only further cemented it as a flop.
Now, I’m not going to pretend I’m some sort of film buff who loved the movie even before I saw the show. I was actually not even that into Buffy in my younger years, though I did have pictures of David Boreanaz cut out in heart shapes on my wall. Only in the last half decade have I re-watched and really appreciated its for its importance. And on one particularly long binge, I decided to watch the movie to find out if it really was that bad. Spoiler alert: it is. But it’s also kind of amazing, and Kristy Swanson makes a really great Chosen One. You see, Buffy wouldn’t be Buffy without the movie version. And for that alone, it should definitely get some props. But even if it didn’t spawn one of the most crucial depictions of the femme teenage experience, and basically the millennial girl equivalent of the Riot Grrrl manifesto, it sucks—but only in the way ’90s teen movies can. Which actually rocks.