Released in 1989, HEATHERS received sharply mixed reviews. The film was popular in a few major metro markets, but it proved a box office disappointment overall. Although many regarded it as a failed take-off on such "high school angst" films as THE BREAKFAST CLUB, more than a few critics saw it as a film too much ahead of its time and predicted that it would have more of an impact down the road. They were right. When the film began to reach the home market it exploded in popularity, and given such later high school horrors as Columbine today the film seems less take-off than downright prophetic.
It is also one of the most wickedly funny movies to hit the screen since Stanley Kubrik's DR. STRANGELOVE. The story starts off normally enough: extremely bright, extremely attractive Veronica (Winona Ryder) is a high school junior who has fallen in with the high school clique to end all high school cliques, three young women each named Heather (Kim Walker, Lisanne Falk, and Shannen Doherty.) The Heathers are pretty, smart, rich... and intent on shoring up their own social positions by crushing every one around them with a degree of vindictiveness that only the teenagers can successfully carry.
When Veronica meets new student J.D. Dean (Christian Slater) her interest in the Heathers begins to wane and they turn on her. J.D. has his own plan to help Veronica get even. It involves a cup of Liquid Drano--and before Veronica can think she finds herself making a murder look like suicide. The result is, as Veronica puts it, teen-age angst with a body count, and quite suddenly suicide seems the "in thing" at Westerberg High.
If you recall high school fondly, you were probably one of the popular kids. For the rest of us, HEATHERS is so accurate that it will make you wince in its portrait of unthinking cruelty: the meanness of the up-scale cliques and brainless jocks, the ridiculed good kids, the savage assaults on the unpopular ones. it is bitter, bitter stuff.
It is also extremely funny. Much of this is due to a truly brilliant script by Daniel Waters, who recognizes that teens rarely speak to adults in the same way that they speak to each other--and he not only brings forth the casually used profanity, he essentially creates a truly believable and hilariously funny mode of slang that characterizes the "in crowd." And Waters' plot is even more disconcerting and outrageously funny as it runs, with unexpected logic, to a truly deadly conclusion.
The performances are knockouts. Ryder has given quite a few memorable performances, but she has never been more remarkable than she is here as Veronica, the good girl turned unintentional killer; Christian Slater has never topped the performance he gives here as J.D. The "Heathers" are perfectly, flawless cast, as is every one from the weary principal to Veronica's vacuous parents. As for direction, Michael Lehmann moves the film at a rapid clip, hitting more high points than you can imagine. Indeed, everything about the film is first-rate.
The DVD package is very nice, including an interesting audio commentary, an interesting documentary featuring interviews with director, writer, and major cast members (Kim Walker, who died in 2001, sadly excepted), and a script of the ending as originally planned by writer Waters. I recommend the film as a "must have"--but a word of warning. If you were one of the very popular during your high school years, you won't find it in the least enjoyable. Yes: that's really how the rest of us saw you.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
on December 23, 2002
For a lot of teenagers, popularity takes precedence over high SAT scores or early admission into an Ivy. It's literally viewed as a matter of life or death, and no film brings that truth to life as vividly as "Heathers." Winona Ryder is Veronica, who (along with Heather Duke, Heather McNamara, and Heather Chandler) belongs to Westerburg High School's most elite and coveted clique. These four young women supposedly epitomize the essence of cool, and earning their stamp of approval is as prestigious as getting knighted by Her Majesty. But things get nasty when Veronica violently clashes with one of the Heathers, and shortly thereafter the clique slowly collapses under its own weight. Of course, there's much more to the film's plot, which is a brilliant satire on high school, the firece competition to be popular and well-liked, and the faculty's inability to connect with their students. Pregnant with one-liners and armed with a Ginsu-sharp script, "Heathers" is a pitch-perfect comedy that's wickedly funny. The best performances definitely belong to Ryder and then-unknown Shannen Doherty. Those who rolled their eyes at the "happily-ever-after" sentiment of "Sixteen Candles" have bonded with this film over the years, turing it into a small scale classic. "Heathers" didn't exactly set the box office on fire upon release in 1989, but it's definitely grown in popularity since then. Give it a look, and you'll see why.
on December 3, 2008
Likely you've already seen this excellent film starring Christian Slater and Winona Ryder. It's a contemporary cult classic and for good reason.
Therefore, I'll give you some info on this limited edition release :
This limited edition comes from Anchor Bay Entertainment and is packaged as a blue metal locker. Inside the locker is a bunch of very cool stuff. First, a cool t-shirt. There are three possible shirts which you might get, but you only get one. Secondly, there are a set of magnets which can be used to decorate the locker. Not outstanding, but kind of neat, none the less. You also get a year-book, featuring info and photos from the film.
What is not made clear though - is that you get your standard wide screen DVD version, you also get a BLU-RAY version of the movie. Look closely at the picture of the back of the packaging. See that there are three discs displayed? One is a Blu-Ray. Yipee!
Oh, and each locker is a numbered limited edition.
Exact Description of Contents : The Limited Edition Locker Set contains: a numbered locker, a 20-page hardcover Heathers yearbook, an 'awesome' T-shirt, 14 locker/fridge magnets, a collectable Westerburg algebra book, the BluRay Disc and two DVDs. Those DVDs will present the film in an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and contain the features highlighted above in addition to an original ending screenplay excerpt accessible from DVD-ROM.
This is a great collectible, well worth the price.
on April 18, 2010
This is not a review of the movie, but strictly of the blu ray transfer. Being this a movie of the 80's, many of you may be wondering. I compared side by side w/ 2 BD players: the upscaled (HDMI) dvd vs. the BD of Heathers. The BD is absolutely stunning improvement and rivals any recent BD movie releases in clarity and detail, definitely high def. Though there are occasional artifacts, and jittering, but it's miniscule in comparison to the picture improvement. Definitely worth the upgrade! As far as the pop up facts new to BD, it's not that big of a feature and shouldn't be a deciding factor. Any minute facts you need are on the internet. The amazing BD transfer should work you into this upgrade immediately. Let's say I was very impressed! I'm surprised the package insert didn't say remastered.
on June 24, 2004
This dark comedy is laced with satire, humor, and wit, much like many of my favorite novels. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater make the ideal duo - until she realizes she needs "cool guys like him out of her life."
Winona, here as Veronica Sawyer, was formerly the best gal pal of dorky yet insanely innocent and kind Betty Finn (both character names are derived from the Archie comic strip). Now, she's taken it up with three girls by the name of Heather. Duke and Chandler may or may not be genuinely evil, while McNamara is just plain pathetically insecure. The thing is, Veronica hates her new so-called friends. It's just their "job to be popular and s***," that's all.
Christian Slater, to my utter dismay, seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth since this booming debut. Here, his performance mimicks that of witty and humorous Jack Nicolson.
"Greetings and salutations." :)
J.D. and Veronica make the ideal couple. Both are witty, bright, and loathe the existence of the high school world. Only J.D. is insanely violent as well, and his actions are bringing about vast repercussions for not only himself, but for Veronica as well. And Veronica is beginning to wise up and realize that J.D., despite his charms and wit, isn't worth all his trouble(s) and excess baggage. Besides, he's got an unhealthy fascination with guns.
After the demise of the leading Heather - their doing through liquid bleach - a second Heather takes her place as leader, even more aggressive and bratty than her predecessor.
Veronica ponders what to do over old and new friendships and accidental deaths in her diary. She and hunky J.D. manage to kill a Heather and two dim-witted jocks but escape suspicion for murder because they leave behind suicide notes. Veronica can perfectly imitate handwriting styles, as we find out during the first 5 minutes of the film when the three Heathers coerce her into writing a love note to high school outcast Martha "Dumptruck" Dunstock and signing a popular jock's signature to it. She approaches him at his lunch table and uproarious laughter ensues.
Teenage suicide seems to be all the rage in the world of Westerburg High, despite the popularity of fictional band Big Fun's hit single, "Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)." Even though Veronica has left J.D. behind, he still has conjured up his own evil plans concerning the future of Westerburg. And the Heather in control is abusing her privileges - Veronica knows she wants out.
HEATHERS is so much more than a screwball comedy. Since its release, no other film has managed to live up to the same wit and dark humor and charm found throughout, making this film a genuine benchmark in the history of movies - and the 80s, for that matter. HEATHERS takes one glimpse at the work of ultra-cool 80s director/writer John Hughes and laughs in his face, making his Molly Ringwald flicks look like garbage in comparison.
Could this be why Winona is still alive in Hollywood and Molly is not?
on August 28, 2005
After I finished watching Heathers for the first time, I couldn't help but look over my body to make sure that I wasn't bleeding from any cuts. This was literally the sharpest written film that I have ever experienced arriving from the 1980s. From the dialogue to the story to the underlying symbolism that hits you right in the face, it is hard to believe that this film isn't on the top list of everyone out there. It reminded me of the first time that I watched Fight Club. The darkness surrounding Tyler Durden was nearly the same as what followed Slater around as he forced Ryder into these situations. In fact, the similarities between the two films are outstanding. I would love to take these two movies and watch them back to back to see what else could be connected. For those that liken Heathers to Mean Girls, I would say "yes", but Fight Club has more relevance. Even the film The Suicide Club seemed to ooze a bit of Heathers the first time I watched it. Either way, this movie stands out above anything else that I have witnessed. The dark characters, the lines spoken by the actors and the story just seeped "cult classic" and should be watched by everyone interested in film.
I have to applaud the actors in this film. I realize that this was one of Christian Slater's first films and he was phenomenal. The speeches that he delivered spoke to me and really defined him as a better actor than what he eventually became. Ryder was exceptional as well. The chemistry that these two had together should go down in film books as one of the quirkiest romances Hollywood has ever contrived. Their ability to make us believe in their plight as well feel their frustration and anguish is tough to find in today's Hollywood. Combined with some great performances by (gasp...should I say it?) Shannon Doherty, Lisanne Falk, and Kim Walker as the three "Heathers", you cannot help but find yourself lost in these rich, devoted characters. While the story carries itself, these actors brought the words of the screenplay to life. They spoke of more than just high school drama, but instead the status of our society and the absurdity of suicide. They changed themes, destroyed stagnant decisions, and opened the door to so many possibilities, both dark and comical, that I am shocked that more isn't explored with this film. If I were to grab three films about our society to show to a race of aliens, I would take Fight Club, The Suicide Club, and Heathers. These are the films that are not afraid to speak the truth about our world.
I need to go ahead and say "WOW" to the story. Not just "WOW" in a state of shock, but also a "WOW" in the style of excitement. I did not see this film coming. I knew that it had been promoted as this "dark comedy", but I have seen plenty of those and was concerned that it just wouldn't hit the buttons that it needed to. Again, and I love to say this, but I was wrong. Daniel Waters dove deep into the world of High School and exposed some of the darkest corners that other Hollywood films were afraid to touch. Even Mean Girls never quite hit the buttons that it should have. This movie talked about sex, parties, drugs, clicks, and the harshness of being an outcast. It did this in such a "real" way that you could not't help but think back to your own High School days while watching this movie. The language is so intense that after you watch it for the first time, certain quotes are just imbedded in your mind. What other film can you say creates that impression? I know of only a handful that I walked away from still quoting the movie. Heathers is a success and should never be ignored.
Finally, I would like to give credit to director Michael Lehmann for exposing such a brutal topic and not going too commercial with it. There were some moments where you could tell that there was a Hollywood path that Lehmann could have followed and made viewers probably happier, but instead he completely turned and went a new direction. There were scenes that I was shocked to see, like the scene in the bathroom with Heather and her pills, because it was as if Lehmann was creating more than just a story, but an entire world. His attention to detail and obvious hand on the pulse of the young adult world was obvious in this film. Lehmann successfully created a lasting dark comedy that is both thought provoking and exciting at the same time. I would even go so far as to say that this might have been the best movie to come out of the 80s, but I don't want to jump too soon ... but it is close.
Overall, I suggest Heathers to everyone and anyone. I also suggest skipping any version that comes on television and go straight to getting it on DVD. The R-rating gives you the full effect of this film, while I think anything less would diminish the quality of this Grade "A" work. For those that passionately loved Fight Club and want to see the issues expressed in that film on a high school level, than this is the film for you! Amazing from beginning to end with some of the greatest quotes any singular film has created! I cannot wait to watch this film again ... and again ... and again ... and again ... and again!
Grade: ***** out of *****
on June 3, 2004
What a superbly crafted black comedy with an insider's view of highschool powerplays, teenage angst, clueless parents, twerpy faculty, etc etc. Could have easily gone down the beaten path and become one of the countless teen movies, but this is undoubtedly an under-rated gem!
As some reviewers lament, be prepared for parts that are dark and disturbing, but the film is also hilarious for the most part, and whatever your emotional reaction, the dialogue is never off-target. In fact the film's script and visual style are so clever that laughing at murder does not seem much of a guilty pleasure.
For all the talk of suicide, the underlying theme couches a universal and heartening meaning: that all people are created equal, the "in crowd" as well as the nerds.
You need your sense of humor in the right place, and if you've got it there, this movie comes highly recommended from me!
What more can be said about an 80's classic that hasn't been said already? Probably not much. The odds are that most or almost all of those going for the Blu release already own the DVD or remember watching the movie on tape or maybe in a theater. I will therefore focus on my impressions as an owner of the DVD as I watched the Blu Heathers and asked myself if it was worth buying it.
[To those new to Heathers, my advice is maybe read some movie reviews and if you decide to buy it, go with the Blu, if you have a Blu player.]
So, not sure if this is a statement about 'Heathers' or about the reviewer (that would be me) but, the fact is that I had Heathers as a VHS tape before I had it as a DVD. This Blu 20th anniversary edition is a timely and needed release and it doesn't disappoint.
To make it short, what you get approximately the Blu-enhanced release of the Heathers 20th anniversary DVD. It sounds better, the colors are shaper and more brilliant. I don't believe I noticed to many artifacts and, in some instances, I did have a few 'aha' moments where the Blu resolution enhancements were evident. This being a re-release of a late (very low budget) 80's movie, the quality doesn't approach that of 21st century movie on Blu but my suspicion is that even the original picture had an added and very slight dream-suggesting blur-glow as the story line tends to follow the border between a make-believe reality and a world of dreams and wishes. Or, maybe it was just the cheap film could afford and the fact that all had to be done in a hurry as Heathers was the last movie New World Pictures was going to distribute before going out of business.
Surprisingly, for such an inexpensive port to Blu, this 'Heathers' comes with a VERY useful Blu-specific feature that I don't believe could be implemented on a DVD. The 'Fast Film Facts', when selected, will pop little post-it-like notes during playback, giving us some insights on what's going on behind the scenes, sometimes literally. For example, we learn that One of the Heathers was Christian Slater's real-life girlfriend, that Winona turned 16 while working on Heathers, that Heaters was released in Europe as 'Lethal Attraction', that the movie was done on a $2 million budget and that budgetary constraints were responsible for many shortened scene and for the somewhat botched ending.
In addition, the two featurettes are very much worth watching. They've been done approximately 10 and 20 years after Heathers' debut with the more recent, "Return to Westerburg High" featuring interviews with writer Daniel Waters and director Michael Lehmann, apparently shot in HD and the older "Swatch Dogs and Diet Coke Heads" sill fresh, informative and entertaining after all these years.
Overall, even though I still have the original DVD version, I am happy to add Heathers to my Blu-ray library and it's not likely that I will ever play the DVD again. For a Blu-ray release, NOT a restoration, this is as good as it gets and the price is right. I hesitated between a 4-star vs. a 5-star rating. And it was the compromised ending that tipped the balance down. Regardless, I will always love this movie and, as teen, dark comedies go, Heathers will always be the frame of reference.
on May 3, 2008
The ONLY new feature in this edition is a documentary called "Return to Westerberg High". EVERYTHING ELSE is the SAME, despite this being a 2 disc, 20 year reunion edition. Check out The Digital Bits & see for yourself lest the corporate cheerleaders dare to call me a liar.
If you don't already have this movie, get this release. Otherwise, don't sweat the upgrade & stop encouraging studios w/double dipping. What next, the 30 year edition?? 45 years?? 60 years? Why don't these studios try releasing films & TV shows that AREN'T on DVD like Angus or finish what they started?
on June 10, 2004
Don't get me wrong - Love John Hughes. But this is not Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles or even the Breakfast Club. If you're looking for the sugary sweetness of those happy endings - Heathers isn't for you. There are no scenes that are going to make you overly nostalgic for being a teen in this dark comedy.
The 3 Heathers rule the school of Westerburg High and Heather Chandler (#1) is the dominant red wearing queen. Veronica Sawyer (Ryder) her best friend is dressed mainly in blue - for truth? She is our perspective for the most part and her diary entries (where she pours out all her true feelings) are perfect. Heather Duke - dressed in green for envy of Heather Chandler's power. And Heather MacNamara dressed in yellow for her fear of - everything. They walk the halls of Westerburg secure in their popularity and the fear the instill in their peers.
Enter Jason Dean (Slater) the "black horse in the running". He attracts Veronica mainly because he's an outsider too cool for anyone else and she's sick of the Heathers. He is seen in black for a very good reason. He is ultimately the protagonist for the killings (which are all too believable)
The movie is great, showing without remorse the absolute solitude that HS can be. The stereotypes, while exaggerated are suspiciously close to the truth. Arrogent teachers, clueless parents, heartless peers... Ahhh High School.
Heathers is also has great quotes. BVS is the only other thing I can think of that perfected it's own slang so well. It makes the movie timeless.
"F*** me gently with a chainsaw. Do I look like mother Theresa?" - Heather C.
"I just killed my bestfriend." - Veronica "And your worst enemy." - JD "Same difference." - Veronica
"Did you have a brain-tumer for breakfast?" Heather C.