Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ten Statements About....HEATHERS (1988)

Yep...a comedy about teens murdering each other...this would
never be made tody...
"Betty Finn was a true friend and I sold her out for a pack of Swatch Watchdogs and Diet Cokekeads."

1) Any film that names its high school after the leader of the Replacements, has another character quote aforementioned Replacements, and has its version of 'Que Sera Sera' sung by Syd Straw has mucho cred with me.

2) This is one of these movies that simply could not be made today. The simple fact that it provide Cassandra-esque echoes of Columbine and other high school massacres isn't the only reason; the fact that said massacres creates practices we accept for granted that J.D. would not be able to over come because....

3) a criminal, Christian Slater's J.D. is a moron. He relies too much on accomplices, and gets super-sloppy when his meticulous plans go awry. The only reason he is able to get away with his murder-disguised-as-suicide spree is because the adults are either unwilling, uninterested or incapable of recognizing what's truly going on.

Glenn Shadix watches over Shannen Doherty to make sure
she doesn't overact....
4) It still floors me how, with the exception of the stray reference to the 80's (that damn Big Fun) and some of the really dated fashions and hairstyles, the script by Daniel Waters is still very relevant. There are so many layers of connectors and signifiers in the names and appearances--even in the color choices--that make it extremely watchable.

Okay, that synth-crazy score doesn't help much.

5) I know the story goes that the role of Veronica was intended for another actress--who was pulled by the project by her horrified parents. But, truth be told, I simply can't see this movie working with Winona Ryder at its center. She is able to convey Veronica's intelligence, outsider nature, and her strange position with one foot in two worlds with just her inflection and body language. In fact, simple choices Ryder makes gives us hints of her backstory Waters never mentions.

6)...and that's a good thing, too, because with only a few exceptions--Veronica, Heathers McNamara and Duke--most of these characters are more types than people, examples to further re-inforce Waters' contention that high school is literal Hell, a dysfunctional existentialist trap that kills anything that might add nuance to the world.

7) You'll notice I don't mention Slater's J.D. in my short list...that's because I never found his mock-Nicholson proto-psychotic very convincing. The film and its dark humor works in spite of Slater, not because of it.

This is a movie where even the colors make a point...
8) The world depicted in this movie is the evil twin of John Hughes' world--a world where emotional cruelty is replaced with actual cruelty, where the barbs actually make people bleed...and sometimes bleed out. And I think Michael Lehmann (a director whose theatrical career should have been lots longer; thank God he was able to find a refuge in television) knew this amd prolly taunted Hughes every time they saw each other with this knowledge.

9) Glen Shadix is gold in this movie. Of all the clueless adults, his thundering sermons with their strange attempts to connect with the teens of Sherwood ('His name is Jesus...and he's in The Book.') are brilliant.

10) I find it very amusing that every dark comedy I love set in a high school somehow involves that high school being blown up or somebody planing to blow it up..

Overall...this still holds up as a very vicious, very dark and very nasty comedy that launched a thousand quotes...and I find it hilarious that someone is developing it as a musical with The Beautiful One herself playing the role played by my one-time crush Winona Ryder.

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