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(COLUMN) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Watching ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

I'm not much of a Horror fan, but there are exceptions, like the campy, metaphor-for-life Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Kate Rice


I’m not much of a horror fan, but there are exceptions, like the campy, metaphor-for-life Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With Halloween approaching, here are seven Buffy episodes that are creepy, disturbing, or downright dark — served with a side of humor and clever dialogue. Watching some or all of these will give you the show’s vibe, so I’ve tried to choose relatively standalone eps that won’t give too much away if you decide you wanna watch the entire series (hint hint!). 

Season One: “Nightmares”

…in which everyone’s nightmares become reality. Some are classic, like spiders crawling out of a textbook and being chased by a homicidal clown. But people’s nightmares aren’t always about literal monsters. Buffy’s mostly-absent father casually mentions that her parents’ divorce is all her fault. Giles, Buffy’s Watcher and the school librarian, suddenly finds that he can’t read. Fashion-obsessed Cordelia suddenly has horrible clothing and untamable hair. The key to this new nightmare world seems to be a boy named Billy. He’s in a coma, but Buffy keeps seeing his astral projection — I mean, when your school’s located on a hellmouth, you’re gonna see some $#!&, y’know?

Season Two: “Some Assembly Required”

I almost didn’t use this one because frankly, it’s kinda gross. Buffy’s out patrolling in the cemetery one night and finds an open grave — and a missing body. Turns out a dude’s been brought back to life à la Frankenstein’s monster, and he’s lookin’ for love. So what’s a creator to do? Build him a woman from newly-dead corpses. It’s all fun and games until the teen Frankenstein needs a fresh (as in: we’re gonna kill you for your noggin’, yo) head for this corpse companion.

Season Three: “Gingerbread”

Chilling not because of the gore, but because of folks getting swept into the pitchforks and knives mindset. One night, Buffy and her mom find the bodies of two children. Suddenly, the good people of Sunnydale embark on a literal witch hunt. Crowd mentality is disturbing, no matter the decade/reason.

Season Four: “Hush”

This is one of the creepiest — and best — Buffy episodes ever. Very little dialogue. Check out this trailer…

Season Five: “Forever”

(Skip the “previously on” intro to avoid spoilers.) I thought about using the previous episode “The Body” because it’s about the best hour of TV I’ve ever seen…but “Forever” is spookier, and doesn’t require as much emotional attachment to the characters. This episode deals with bringing back the dead — as in, what will come back, and is it worth it?

Season Six: “Wrecked”

Buffy doing one of the things it does best: Metaphor. There are all sorts of addictions. Drugs, witchcraft — the consequences can be remarkably similar. 

Season Seven: “Conversations with Dead People”

This one is super creepy, but be warned: It contains some spoilers…On this night, Buffy’s chatting it up with a former classmate/newly-sired vampire. Willow’s studying in the library. Dawn’s home alone for the evening. Buffy’s would-be foe spends time psychoanalyzing her, dropping some pretty damning information. Willow’s visited by the ghost of someone Buffy once tried to help. And Dawn believes her dearly-departed mom’s trying to reach out and touch her and that an evil presence is blocking communication. All the while, strange things are afoot at the high school, aka the hellmouth’s favorite hot spot…

Stream these and more episodes of Buffy on Hulu. But maybe not alone. Or at night…