VHS Review: Heathers

“Whether to kill yourself or not is one of the most important decisions a teenager can make.”

Heathers fell short of box office success at its time but it has a cult following and remains one of the best teenage films of all time in my book. It has been compared to films like Mean Girls and Jawbreaker but is leagues beyond the two. Girls can be so mean. Especially, in their teens. That being said, all of these high school movies show us high school hell when high school really isn’t that bad. At least, it wasn’t for me. Middle school was hell for me. It still wasn’t anything like Heathers where three girls named Heather run the school, torturing outcasts and turning a former outcast into one of them only she isn’t a ‘Heather’ she’s a Veronica. Heather’s isn’t all about peer pressure, bulimia, and Queen Bee’s though. Teenage suicide, politics, and murder also play a big part in the film.

Veronica (Winona Ryder) discovers the popular life is just not all it’s cracked up to be and she hooks up with rebel motorcycle boy Jason Dean (Christian Slater.) The two of them become Bonnie and Clyde and start knocking off the popular kids one by one, making it look like suicide. They even make the two most popular jocks look queer. “I love my dead gay son.” In a way, it’s mostly Jason’s work and Veronica just thinks they’re pulling pranks which makes her possibly the dumbest teenage girl in America. Who would really be dumb enough to fall for the schemes he pulls? Quickly, Veronica discovers that dating teen rebels is not all it’s cracked up to be. She just cannot seem to make her high school a peaceful place. With two Heathers remaining, one takes the dead Queen Heather’s place and even inherits her favorite color, red. The other Heather actually does try to commit suicide after royally embarrassing herself on the radio but Veronica talks her out of it. This Heather may actually be the only decent Heather out of the trio but with low standards.

It’s amazing that after Heather Chandler’s death, everyone wants to talk about how close they were. This happens in real life all the time. I guarantee you that if I died right now, there would be a few individuals crying for me only to get attention that they are not receiving at home.

Teenage suicide has become a big problem these days. Shootings and blowing up the school have been going on for a while now, sadly. Sometimes I wonder if Heathers was influential to those. It’s not meant to be anything other than a dark comedy and anyone else who gets any ideas after watching may have mental problems.

This is a very cynical high school film. Aside from teaching you the proper use of the word myriad, Heathers teaches you many valuable lessons. For instance, never ever EVER let your ‘best friend’ be the only whore at a frat party. You better get on that couch and suck that frat boy’s naughty bits or she will ruin you the next day. Or you could just kill her with draino. Problem solved. Second lesson, if you accidentally kill your peers, make it look like a suicide. Third, linguistics like ‘very’ and ‘What’s your damage’ are very cool. Fourth, you’re not allowed to wear your best friends favorite color. Fifth, teenagers don’t want to be patronized like bunny rabbits.

The acting was spot on. Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk) was originally offered to Heather Graham when she was 17 but her parents decided against it because of the dark subject matter. I enjoyed Falk’s performance even though she looks too mature for the role. Jennifer Connelly turned down the role of Veronica and I am glad because I cannot see anyone else playing Veronica other than Ryder. She was only 15 at the time. Brad Pitt was considered too nice for the role of JD. Christian Slaters claims that he took a lot of notes from Jack Nicholsen. I think it worked smoothly for him. It’s unfortunate that Kim Walker (Heather Chandler) died of a brain tumor in 2001. She was gorgeous and it’s coincidental that one of her lines in Heathers was, “Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?” Another coincidental death was Jeremy Applefate (Peter Dawson) who prays in the film that he will never commit suicide but in real life actually did commit suicide. Shannen Doherty plays Heather Duke. I have always been a fan of Doherty. She’s now starring in commercials for online colleges. Good girl Betty Finn was played by Renee Estevez, who I remember in Sleepaway Camp II as Molly. She seems so innocent and she is Emilio Estevez and Charilie Sheen’s younger sister.

The wardrobe department (Rudy Dillon) helped to shape this film into an 80s cult classic. The ‘Heathers’ each had their own colors; red Heather, green Heather, and Yellow Heather. Veronica was dressed in darker colors like black, gray, and purple. And HOLY SHOULDER PADS! There were a lot of bright colors throughout the film and the high school had a yellowish tone to it. At least, that’s what it looked like to me. Daniel Waters did a fantastic job with the dialogue. His work reminds me of Joss Whedon, who is a comedic genius. Director Michael Lehmann pulled off some interesting shots, including a nifty 180 degrees with the camera. To my surprise, he has directed several True Blood episodes and the movie Airheads. What I want to know is, how in the hell was this only filmed in 32 days?

The only downside is the piss poor soundtrack with an exception for the ‘Que sera sera’ song. Teenage Suicide, Don’t Do It performed by Big Fun is enough to make me want to blow my own brains out.

Heather Chandler had the best quotes in the film but if someone ever said “Transfer to Washington. Transfer to Jefferson. No one at Westerberg is going to let you play their reindeer games” to me, I’d laugh and ask, “What did you just say to me?”

“Corn nuts!”

“The note’ll give her shower-nozzle masturbation material for weeks.”

“Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.”

“Ah, oh, uh! I like to suck big dicks. Or, uh… Mmmm! Mmmm! I can’t get enough of ’em!”

“Veronica, why are you pulling my dick?”

“I don’t patronize bunny rabbits.”

“Want some pate?”

“So, should I just whip it out, or…?”

“Oh man, they were fags!”

Spoiler Alert: Alternate Ending:

Initially, the ending was suppose to be Veronica killing JD then looking out of the window to see all the bullying and everything else she hated about high school so she then straps the bomb to herself and sets it off following with a final sequence where all the dead high schoolers are dancing together at the prom without any cliches or bullying. This ending was changed because studio executives found it to be too dark and demented and just a little cheesy. Which ending would you have preferred?