Monday, April 16, 2012

Retro Review: "Heathers"

Heathers. (1989)

Cast: Winona Ryder Christian Slater

Writer:  Daniel Waters

Director: Michael Lehmann

**** out of four stars.

Spoilers below.    The next few paragraphs is not a review but rather a fictional newspaper report about what happens during the story.   I started writing a regular review, but then realized I would not be able to add  written quotes or  video clips from this without calling attention to those exact details.  If you have never seen this before I highly suggest watching it before reading this, because I do give away a lot of spoilers(It's available on Netflix streaming right now).  


A News Article by Anonymous

For the kids at Westerburg High, life has become a battle zone.    All of them have decided to pair up in to little cliques so that they won't feel ostracized by others.   The one group that rules over all the other cliques in this war of popularity are Heather Duke( Shannen Doherty)  Heather Chandler(Kim Walker) and Heather McNamara(Lisanne Falk).  These women are vile, egotistical ,vain  and yet are completely adored by everyone.  Heather Chandler put it best when she said.

"They all want me as a friend or a fuck.  I'm worshiped at Westerburg, and I'm only a junior."

The newest member of the Heather army is Veronica Sawyer(Winona Ryder) a former geek who has recently becomes friends with the power trio.  As time passes on she becomes sick of the girls' actions and attitudes toward others and even finds some of the games they play just downright cruel.  When asked her about her so called friends.  Veronica replied.

"They're people I work with and or job is being popular and shit."


Not liking the way her school has turned into a dictatorship, but with no way to retaliate and fight them.  Veronica felt trapped and helpless. That is until she came across Jason Dean(Christian Slater), a new boy who has just moved to their school.  All his life Jason or JD as he likes to be called never spent a lot of time in one place.  His dad owned a construction company that helped demolished old buildings. So he never had a chance to make any friends because he was always moving  When he meets Veronica an immediate attraction is formed.  They both share a complete hatred of those who want to bully others.

After a horrible experience at a college party where Veronica was used as a prostitute by Heather Chandler.  Her and JD decide to get back at her by playing a prank of their own.  But the prank accidentally becomes tragic when it results in the very death of Miss Chandler.  The two quickly decides that the whole thing was a planned suicide.  Therefore removing any of their association with the murder.   Veronica had this to say about the incident.

"I'm sorry. Technically I did not kill Heather Chandler, but hey who am I trying to kid, right.  I just want my high school to be a nice place.  Did that sound bitchy?"

The odd thing about the suicide is that it became more of  a media event and Heather's popularity grew even more.  People who have hated her before her suicide now mentioned in reports about how wonderful she was and how much they will miss her.   Pauline Flemming(Penelope Milford) a teacher at Westerburg even staged a little get together at a cafeteria that showed all the students holding hands and having a good time.  It was nothing more than a fluff piece for the networks rating and did very little to talk about the problems of teen suicide.

As for JD and Veronica.  Their relationship has been on sort of rocky grounds since their incident with Heather Chandler.   Sources say that the two were seen outside in a car arguing about another death.    We have obtained this footage from a hidden camera.

(Clip Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment)

The two have recently broken up since than, but JD has become more and more obsessed with making his school a better place.  No longer interested in killing assholes and making it look like a suicide.  JD has devised a plan to blow up the whole school and make it look like a pact suicide.

"People will look at the ashes of Westerburg and say now there's a school that self destructed not because society didn't care, but because the school was society." Said JD in a recent interview.

 As for Veronica she has mentioned that she can't control her self when she is around JD and wonders if they are going to prom or to hell.  She than reported that Heather Duke has now taken over as the leader and as soon as she stops JD she is going to stop Miss Duke's reign of terror as well.

Screenwriter Daniel Waters originally wanted to have Stanley Kubrick direct this movie and as much of a fan as I am of Kubrick.  I'm really glad that it it didn't happen.  Just as I am also glad the original ending was never used.  In the original ending the school does blow up and the next scene is set at a high school prom in heaven where everyone gets along. That one never felt right in the context of the whole story. The one used in the theatrical release is just perfect because you like the character of Veronica and want there to be a hopeful ending even in a dark comedy such as this. 

This came out during a time when John Hughes ruled the teen movie scene but he only showed just one version of teen life.  The safe sanitized side where even nothing ugly was ever shown or discussed. It was ahead of it's time than and it's ahead of it's time now.   The movie was met with a lot of controversy when it was first released and I almost guarantee that if it was made today it would not even make it to production.  Some have mentioned that this movie is nothing but a sick joke and that making light of suicide is shameful.  Obviously those people are not aware of a little something called satire.  When used right it could show people important issues that need to be discussed.  Mark Twain used it to discuss racism in "HuckleBerry Finn" and Stanley Kubrick used it brilliantly in "Dr. Strangelove" to discuss the absurdity of nuclear war.      I find humor is a much better weapon to get people talking about serious issues and this movie tackles the subject of both bullies and teen suicide better than most.


  1. Watched this again recently. Made me want to see Winona Ryder get some good roles again and reminded me just how good an actor Christian Slater is.

  2. Thanks for the comment Dan. Yeah Winona was good in small roles like "Black Swan" and "Star Trek" but yeah wish she had better roles too

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