Saturday, December 5, 2009

#412: Heathers (1988)

Director: Michael Lehmann
Cast: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk & Kim Walker

Heather, Heather, Veronica and Heather are the girls at Westerburg High that all the guys want to be with and all the girls want to be. Except, one of them doesn't want to be a part of their clique anymore. When Veronica meets J.D., a dangerous and mysterious bad-ass lurking in the corner of the cafeteria, he convinces her to kill the lead Heather and make it look like a suicide. Afterwards, the murders posed as suicides continue as the social hierarchy of the school adapts to the changes being made.

This... was weird. There were a few hysterical lines in the script, which I'll give a few examples of later, but aside from that, the overall atmosphere in the film is kind of disturbing. Maybe I'm not well-adjusted to watching dark comedies, but there are a few moments in the film when I'm genuinely freaked out.

I also didn't think much of any of the acting. Particularly of Christian Slater, who seemed to be nearly mimicking Jack Nicholson (who he credits as his 'inspiration' for the role). I said this to my sister while watching, and I'll say it again: Christian Slater is one of the strangest teen icons to grace the silver screen.

The appeal for this film is its uniqueness. Filmmakers are afraid to make dark comedies with such disturbing material if they're aimed at younger audiences. Lehmann not only mocks high school drama, but he mocks high school suicides and bomb threats.

I'll just conclude by stating bluntly, in case you haven't figured it out, I wasn't enthralled. But before I go, some examples of fine script-writing from the film.

Veronica Sawyer: All we want is to be treated like human beings, not to be experimented on like guinea pigs or patronized like bunny rabbits.
Veronica's Dad: I don't patronize bunny rabbits.

Officer Milner: My God, suicide. Why?
Officer McCord: [holds up bottle of mineral water found next to one of the bodies] Does *this* answer your question?
Officer Milner: [appalled] Oh man! They were fags?

J.D.: [after killing Heather] What are we gonna tell the cops? "Fuck it if she can't take a joke, Sarge".
Veronica Sawyer: The cops? This is my life. Oh, my God. I'll have to send my S.A.T. scores to San Quentin instead of Stanford.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB)
  • At the beginning of the film Heather Chandler asks Heather Duke "did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?" The actress who played Heather Chandler, Kim Walker later died of a brain tumor.
  • Mid-1990's-era ska/punk band Edna's Goldfish named their song "Veronica Sawyer" after the main character in Heathers. The song's theme of alienation among suburban teenagers reflects the themes of the movie. Reel Big Fish covered the song on their 2009 album "Fame, Fortune and Fornication."
  • Two stars of the movie died at an early age: Jeremy Applegate (Peter Dawson, whose character prays he will never commit suicide) committed suicide with a shotgun on March 23, 2000, and Kim Walker (Heather Chandler, who had the line "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?") died of a brain tumor on March 6, 2001.
  • SPOILER: J.D. tricks Veronica into killing the jocks by claiming to use "ich luge" bullets, which he claims only pierce the skin. "Ich lüge" is German for "I'm lying".

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