Heathers (1988)

Directed by Michael Lehmann
Written by Daniel Waters
(number 415)

A Christian Slater/Winona Ryder double header made when they were the big things in Hollywood. The director’s name looked familiar to me and it’s because he’s directed 15 episodes of True Blood and 7 episodes of Californication. Heh.

This is another one of the movies on this list which I have seen countless times. Watching it, my brain was pointing out what was about to happen, and I laughed at almost every joke. I watched this one with two people who had never seen it before, though, so it was interesting to have the other reaction to the movie which seemed to mostly be ‘that was weird’.

The movie is basically an anti-John Hughes. Starting with Veronica getting into the best clique in school, the Heathers, until her eye is drawn to bad boy JD played by a sardonic, Jack Nicholson channeling Christian Slater. I had such a crush on him as a kid/early teen. Oh my. I had posters of him from RTR Countdown magazine. The best one was the one where he was wearing glasses and his hair was flopping forward. Mmm.

Er, where was I?

Right. So it’s a movie which takes the whole high school issue of being in with the popular kids to a whole new level. Teen Queen Heather Chandler commits suicide and seemingly starts a trend. Of course what’s really happening is JD is doing a little low level murder spree with Veronica, or vice versa, she’s doing it with him… but the wider impact on the school is the same. To be cool you have to die and then people will love you so much more. Your past sins are forgotten and you become an angel. The appeal is over stated and, like much of this movie, over the top.

The late 80s fashion is flawless, shoulder pads, suits, ballet flats, coloured tights and scrunchies. Oh the scrunchies.

Does it make me love the people? It does. I love the whacked out devotion Veronica has as she struggles to do the right thing, her nostalgia for her simpler past with her friends who she actually liked. I love her bizarro parents who are always offering pate and homilies and smiles and I of course, love JD. There’s something so very free about a character with zero regard to the rules of social structure, or the laws of society. Besides he’s hilarious and sarcastic and. Okay, so I maybe still have a bit of a crush. Can you blame me?

JD is an agent of chaos in this film. He’s the wild card who gives Veronica ways and means to act out her fantasies of destruction and ultimately she watches him destroy himself so that she can take over as the new source of power in the film. In a way it’s a very empowering statement – he tempts her down the dark side and she uses what he taught her to overcome and emerge victorious from the ashes. The movie also has a lovely message of what true friendship is and not to judge people.

Bechdel test: Yes, instantly. The movie opens with the three Heathers being elegant and refined, drinking tea as the soundtrack sings ‘Que cera cera’ and then they walk right on some flowers and you think maybe things aren’t what they seem. The Heathers then talk to each other about who’s turn it is in croquet.

Best line:

JD: You believed it because you wanted to believe it. Your true feelings were too icky and gross.

JD: If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn’t be human, you’d be a fucking game show host.

State of Mind: Dude. This movie was the Mean Girls of it’s time, and it’s so much darker!

Watched movie count


One thought on “Heathers (1988)

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