Whedon and the “Buffy” team chose to give their vampires two faces, a human one and a demonic one (with fangs and snake eyes). “When they feed or when they get very emotional, their demon faces sort of come out,” Whedon explained. “I wanted them to look monstrous so that when Buffy killed them we didn’t feel this was a girl just killing people.” In their transformed state, the “Buffy” vampires looked like ravenous bat demons, and when they died, their bodies crumbled into dust — no one would confuse a vampire slayer for a serial killer under those conditions.
As for misdirecting the audience, Whedon noted the show was able to pull off the twist of Angel (David Boreanaz) being a vampire because of the face-shifting. The “Buffy” pilot also opens with the vampire Darla (Julie Benz), playing the part of a Catholic schoolgirl, luring a boy to his death by promising a makeout session and then going into vamp mode. This scene is a riff on the elevator pitch for “Buffy” — a blonde girl gets cornered in a dark alley and kicks the monster’s ass. This time, the blonde is the monster. This scene wouldn’t have been possible if vampires always looked scary.
Whedon’s comments about ensuring the audience didn’t like the vampires tracks with comments made by James Marsters, who played fan-favorite bad boy vampire Spike. According to Marsters, it took Whedon a long time to accept Spike’s popularity with the audience, because vampires like Spike were meant to be problems for heroes to overcome as a metaphor for them growing up. Characters being seduced by the challenges of adolescence was not the story that Whedon wanted to tell.
To make the vampires extra creepy, “Buffy” added an interesting wrinkle to how humans are transformed into vampires, or “sired.”