197. Heathers

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Movie: Heathers

Release Date: March 31, 1989

Director: Michael Lehmann

Starring: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, Kim Walker, Penelope Milford.

Tag Lines: “Best friends, social trends and occasional murder.”

“A killer comedy.”

Relevance: Although receiving mostly positive reviews, ‘Heathers’ was a box office bomb when it was released in 1989. That coupled with the fact that I graduated high school a few months later was most likely the reason why I missed it in theaters. It wasn’t until it was released as a rental did I, and the rest of the world, take notice of this satirical, dark gem of a movie.

I can’t remember exactly when I rented the film, but it was sometime in late 1989. It might have been late summer before I left for college or possibly on my holiday break a few months later. Regardless, as soon as I watched it, I became obsessed. With the pains and horrors of high school still fresh in my head, I totally still related to the themes of peer pressure, popularity and fitting in that the film presented. How they were presented though was what made this film stick out than most others. Cynical, dark with very biting humor, the movie changed the way I looked at teenage comedies. Its satire on teen culture and acceptance was cutting edge and nothing like I had ever seen before. It was nasty and cruel and so much fun to watch.

I owned the movie on VHS and watched it numerous times throughout my college career. Its popularity grew throughout the years and it is now recognized as a cult classic. It pops up on tons of lists from “50 Best High School Movies” to “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.” ‘Heathers’ was developed into a limited TV series as well as a musical that had a limited run Off-Broadway. I was lucky enough to be in a community theater production of it a few years back. It is just as dark as the movie, but with heart and a few really terrific numbers.

It is hard for me to imagine that a movie like ‘Heathers,’ one that has been in my life for over thirty years and one that is so easily recognized in pop culture, was a flop. Its cultural relevance only seems to grow as the years pass.

Today’s Thoughts: “Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw. Do I look like Mother Teresa?”

There are so many great quotes from ‘Heathers’ it is difficult to pick a favorite. Although that one has to be in my top five. The words, phrases and language used in this movie is one of the many reasons why it has remained a force within the pop cultural zeitgeist. I know that I have watched the movie within the last few years, but I was super excited to revisit it again today. “How very.”

There is absolutely nothing I don’t love about this movie. Its story, screenplay, message, themes, directing and acting are all superb. However its dark quirkiness is what I love most about it. And it is still funny as ever. The ensemble of actors , especially Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty could not have been better cast. They all walk that very fine line of comedy and drama so well. It was a fun movie to watch when I was eighteen and it remains a fun movie to watch at almost fifty.

I can’t imagine there is anyone out there who has not seen ‘Hearthers.’ However, if you happen to be one of them, I highly recommend watching it. It is a classic that will make you laugh as well as make you think.

“I like it. It’s got that what-a-cruel-world-let’s-toss-ourselves-in-the-abyss type ambiance.”

Awards: Film Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead, Winona Ryder (nomination), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, Daniel Waters (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Tubi, Pluto TV, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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