Back in March 1989, we were winding down after a crazy decade of questionable fashion, amazing music, and the end of a beloved President’s term. Madonna, The B-52’s and The Cure were dominating the radio, and the Academy Award for Best Picture would go to Driving Miss Daisy. That’s also when rookie director Michael Lehmann released his low budget black comedy, Heathers.
Set in Anytown, USA, Heathers is the dark and engaging story of high school junior Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) and her unwilling existence in the feared and revered power-clique, know as “The Heathers.” Led by the cruel and punishing Heather Chandler (Kim Walker), the Heathers consist of Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty), a bulimic follower that loathes Chandler and secretly dreams of ruling the group, and Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk), a cheerleader who has no identity and a need for acceptance.
When bad boy J.D. (Christian Slater) arrives at the school, Veronica is drawn to his mysterious irreverence, but soon finds out that he has a psychotic streak that results in the deaths of several Westerburg High students. Only when Veronica finally stands up to both J.D. and the Heathers does she gain back her own identity, but also her old true friend, Betty Finn (Renee Estevez).
This is a brilliantly written story that is best described by Veronica Sawyer who writes in her diary: “My teen angst bullshit has a body count.” From the memorable quotes like Heather Chandler’s “fuck me slowly with a chainsaw,” to the Moby Dick references and hilarious stereotypes, this is the type of film that has to be watched at least twice to get the full impact. If you enjoy a high school drama that is anything but typical, murder, great dialogue and impressive subtleties (notice Betty Finn and Veronica Sawyer are named after two well known best-friend duos, Betty and Veronica, and Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer), this is a must see, or in the case of the 20th High School Reunion Edition, a must see again.
Heathers 20th High School Reunion Edition DVD comes with extras that include the theatrical trailer, a pdf of the screenplay’s original ending, a “Return to Westerburg High” featurette, and more. If you’re a Swatch-dog, a diet cokehead, or just a lover of black comedies, make sure you check out this DVD.