i Love xander

Although his role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been pretty anemic of late, Xander Harris is still, unquestionably, the coolest character of all time. So it's of little surprise that the actor who masterfully portrays him, Nicholas Brendon, has hit it big in Hollywood, appearing in three films that showcase both his versatility and his unwavering dedication to insightful, intelligent filmmaking.

• Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1994)--Kids who quote the Bible sure are creepy. Especially when they grow corn--evil corn. And especially when they go to Chicago and start killin' them sinnin' city folk! Brendon does the best he can with what given him as "Basketball Player One," delivering his one line ("He can't play!") with a witty panache that foreshadows his future genius and stardom. Never has the combination of religious iconography, agriculture, and a giant stop-motion corn monster been so utterly un-terrifying.

• Psycho Beach Party (2000)--Can a film still be campy if the filmmakers try to make it campy? Nope, and Psycho Beach Party is a case in point. Brendon plays Starcat, who's basically Xander with a surfboard instead of a skateboard. There's some stuff about a murderer with multiple personality disorder and a transvestite cop, but mostly it's just a lot of people trying really hard to be really campy and funny--which comes off as just stupid and desperate. It's like community dinner theatre, but worse. A lot worse.

•Pinata Survival Island (Demon Island) (2002)--Y'know, if I found a demonic piñata, I don't think I'd smash it open. That's just asking for trouble. Apparently, though, trouble's just what a bunch of drunk college kids are looking for, and goddamn, do they ever get it... when they smash open an evil piñata, it comes to life, and starts killing them! More importantly, Brendon finally gets top billing (along with an associate producer credit), and he delivers a subtly nuanced, psychologically complex performance. I loved this movie, mostly because it's about a killer piñata. C'mon--how can you hate a piñata? It gives you candy! ERIK HENRIKSEN