name = Heathers
caption = Theatrical release poster
Denise Di Novi
writer = Daniel Waters
Winona Ryder Christian Slater Shannen Doherty Lisanne Falk Kim Walker Penelope Milford Glenn Shadix
music = David Newman
cinematography = Frances Kenny
editing = Norman Hollyn
New World Pictures
March 31, 1989
runtime = 102 min.
language = English
budget = $2 million
gross = $1,108,462
amg_id = 1:21973
imdb_id = 0097493
"Heathers" is a 1989
black comedyfilm starring Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, and Shannen Doherty. The film portrays four girls in a trend-setting cliqueat a suburban Midwestern high school. The girls—three of whom are named "Heather"—rule the school through intimidation, contempt, and sex appeal.
"Heathers" brought director
Michael Lehmannand producer Denise Di Novithe 1990 Independent Spirit Awardfor Best First Feature. Daniel Waters also gained recognition for his screenplay, which won a 1990 Edgar Award. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097493/awards Heathers (1989) - Awards ] ] The film was a U.S. box office failure, [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097493/business Heathers (1989) - Box office / business ] ] but has since become a cult classic, as is shown by its high sales and rentals on DVDand VHS. In 2006, it was ranked #5 on " Entertainment Weekly's" list of the "50 Best High School Movies". [ [http://www.ew.com/ew/report/0,6115,1532588_1_0_,00.html Countdown: The 50 best high school movies | Photo Gallery | News + Notes | Entertainment Weekly ] ]
The film centers on high school student Veronica Sawyer (Ryder). Veronica is part of the most popular clique in Westerburg High School (named for singer
Paul Westerberg) in Sherwood, a fictional suburb of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to Veronica, the clique is composed of three wealthy girls with the same first name: Heather Chandler (Walker), Heather Duke (Doherty), and Heather McNamara (Falk). These mean-spirited girls play croquet with each other, use their own unique slang, and even purge together. Even though they are adored by most other students, the Heathers despise everyone outside their clique and continuously bully socially awkward classmates such as the overweight Martha "Dumptruck" Dunnstock.
Veronica was not always in the Heathers clique. She used to be good friends with
nerdy student Betty Finn (Estevez). Veronica finds "friendship" with the Heathers both attractive and repulsive since it is mostly based on vanity, peer pressure, and a desire to dominate instead of being dominated. She even says that they are not really her friends, just people she hangs out with because being popular is her "job". When a new student, a rebellious boy named Jason Dean (Slater), or J.D. for short (like James Dean), pulls a gun on school bullies Kurt (Fenton) and Ram (Labyorteaux) and fires blanks at them, Veronica is intrigued.
Soon Veronica and J.D. are dating. He accompanies her on an early morning visit to Heather Chandler's home. Veronica is furious with Heather Chandler's treatment of her at a fraternity party the night before. Veronica and J.D. jokingly prepare a cup full of
drain cleanerto bring Heather as a morning wake-up drink. Veronica decides on milk and orange juiceas a suitable form of revenge, as the combination can induce vomiting. J.D. distracts Veronica with a kiss and while they are kissing, Veronica takes the wrong glass to give to Heather. J.D. notices the mistake, but does not inform Veronica that she has taken the drain cleaner instead of the milk and orange juice combination. Heather Chandler drinks the drain cleaner and dies in front of them.
J.D. urges Veronica to protect herself from suspicion of murder by forging a
suicide notein Heather Chandler's handwriting. Based on this note, the school and community look on Heather Chandler's death as a dramatic, yet somehow hip, decision made by a popular but sadly troubled teenager. Heather Duke soon steps into Heather Chandler's former role as clique leader, and begins wearing a red hair bow that had belonged to Chandler.
Several weeks later, the
oafish Kurt and Ram spread a false rumor about Veronica giving oral sex to Kurt and Ram at the same time, ruining her reputation at school. J.D. suggests a plan for revenge. He proposes that Veronica lure them into the woods behind the school with the promise to "make the rumors true." Once the bullies have undressed, J.D. tells her they will shoot them with special "Ich Lüge" bullets that will knock them unconscious but not kill them. J.D. will plant "gay" materials beside the other boys, including a gay porn magazine and bottled mineral water. He will also leave a fake suicide note saying the two were lovers in a suicide pact.
The prank appears to go according to plan, with one of the boys being shot and falling to the ground. Veronica misses the other boy, who runs away. Veronica realizes that the bullets are real ("Ich lüge" means "I'm lying" in German). J.D. had intended to kill Kurt and Ram all along. J.D. manages to chase the surviving boy back towards Veronica, who panics and shoots him dead. The boys' bodies are soon discovered along with the planted evidence of their "affair". At their funeral, Kurt's father is seen wailing, "I love my dead gay son!"
Veronica realizes that she is in over her head. She feels guilty about the murders, but worse still, other students begin mimicking the perceived behavior of the popular dead kids and attempting suicide themselves. Martha Dumptruck pins a suicide note to her chest and walks into traffic. She survives but is badly injured. The other students ridicule her actions as an ill-advised attempt to act "popular".
Veronica tells J.D. that she will not participate in any more killings. He plans to kill Heather Duke next, and subtly threatens to do the same to Veronica if she does not cooperate. Veronica instead tricks J.D. by using a harness to make it look like she has hanged herself. Heartbroken, he reveals his plan to blow up the entire school during a pep rally. A petition he has been circulating—via Heather Duke—to get the fictional band Big Fun (whose anti-suicide pop song is all the rage at school) to perform on campus was actually a disguised suicide note. Most of the students had already signed, so the mass murder would appear to be a mass suicide instead.
Veronica confronts J.D. in the boiler room where he is rigging timed explosives. She attempts to kill him when he refuses to stop the bomb. As J.D. collapses, he accidentally stops the timer. Veronica walks out through the pep rally with everyone cheering, unaware of their narrowly-missed demise. The severely injured J.D. follows her outside, and then stands there and he looks at her as though saying " We could have been together..." and detonates a bomb that is strapped to his chest. The final scene of the film is of Veronica, covered in ash and bleeding slightly, walking through the school halls. She confronts Heather Duke and tells her "There's a new sheriff in town." She takes the red hair bow Heather Duke had inherited from Heather Chandler and puts it in her own hair. Veronica then walks over to Martha Dunnstock to start a friendly conversation.
* Veronica Sawyer – The protagonist. Although officially a member of the Heathers, Veronica does not like the way that they run the school, their misuse of powers, and their intimidation of "lower" students.
* Jason "JD" Dean – A
sociopathicdrifter who eventually falls in love with Veronica.
* Heather Chandler – The lead Heather (also known as "Heather Number One"). She uses sex appeal and intimidation to run the school, despite being only a junior. She picked Veronica as her protege and offered to teach her "how to fly with the eagles". In spite of her recognized "popularity", she is mean-spirited and not genuinely well-liked.
* Heather Duke – She starts off as the quiet Heather. She is the least-appreciated of the clique, and allows herself to be kicked around by Heather Chandler. However, after Heather Chandler is killed, Heather Duke becomes the new Number One and begins behaving as badly as her predecessor.
* Heather McNamara – A cheerleader, she is the Heather that seems well adapted to the clique's way of life. However, after Heather Chandler dies, she becomes lost and eventually attempts suicide, only to be saved by Veronica before she can swallow a bottle of pills.
* Kurt and Ram – Two stereotypical boorish jocks who use physical force and intimidation to bully their underclassmen. Veronica and JD eventually kill them after they spread a rumor that ruins Veronica's reputation; JD stages the scene so it looks as if Kurt and Ram killed themselves in a suicide pact, conflicted and despondent over their hidden homosexual relationship.
* Mrs. Fleming – A hippie teacher at school, Pauline Fleming is ecstatic about the "suicide" of Heather Chandler and uses it to crank feelings out of the other students.
Winona Ryderas Veronica Sawyer
Christian Slateras Jason "J.D." Dean
Shannen Dohertyas Heather Duke
Lisanne Falkas Heather McNamara
Kim Walkeras Heather Chandler
Penelope Milfordas Pauline Fleming
Glenn Shadixas Father Ripper
Lance Fentonas Kurt Kelly
Patrick Labyorteauxas Ram Sweeney
Jeremy Applegateas Peter Dawson
Renée Estevezas Betty Finn
Jennifer Rhodesas Mrs. Sawyer
Daniel Waters wanted his screenplay to go to director
Stanley Kubrick, [http://www.qnetwork.com/index.php?page=review&id=377 Heathers DVD review] ] not only out of profound admiration for Kubrick but also from a perception that "Kubrick was the only person that could get away with a three-hour film". (The cafeteria scene opening "Heathers" was written as an homage to the barracks scene opening Kubrick's " Full Metal Jacket.") After a number of failed attempts to get the script to Kubrick made Waters realize the apparent futility of the enterprise, he decided to give the script to Michael Lehmann, who then took it on with Denise Di Novi. Many actors and actresses turned down the project because of its dark subject matter. Early choices for JD and Veronica were Brad Pittand Jennifer Connelly. Although Pitt auditioned for JD, the filmmakers rejected him because they thought he came across as "too nice" and therefore would not be credible. Connelly declined. Winona Ryder—who was 16 at the time of filming and badly wanted the part—begged Waters to cast her. She was eventually given the role; Christian Slaterwas signed on after. Heather Graham, then 17, was cast as Heather McNamara but her mother wouldn't allow her to do the film. Filming took place in 1988, and lasted 32 days.Fact|date=June 2007
Two stars of the movie died at an early age:
Jeremy Applegate(Peter Dawson, whose character prays he will never commit suicide) committed suicide with a shotgun on March 23, 2000, and Kim Walker(Heather Chandler, who had the line "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?") died of a brain tumor on March 6, 2001.
The film uses two versions of the song "
Que Sera, Sera," the first by singer Syd Strawand another over the end credits by Sly & the Family Stone. On the film's DVD commentary, Di Novi mentions that the filmmakers wanted to use the original Doris Dayversion of the song, but Day would not lend her name to any project using profanity. Di Novi also notes that, when her father was a session musician for Day, he and the other musicians had to put money in a "swear jar" when they cursed.
The song "Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)" by the fictional band Big Fun was written and produced for the film by musician Don Dixon, and performed by the
ad hocgroup "Big Fun", which consisted of Dixon, Mitch Easter, Angie Carlson and Marti Jones. The song is included on Dixon's 1992 greatest hits album "(If) I'm A Ham, Well You're A Sausage."
The film's score was composed by David Newman and a soundtrack CD was subsequently released.
Home video releases
"Heathers" was first released onto
VHSin 1989, where it received strong sales and rentals, and is where it first became well known after being unsuccessful at the box office. It was released again on laserdiscon September 16, 1996with restored stereo sound. This widescreen edition was digitally transferred from Trans Atlantic Pictures interpositive print under the supervision of cinematographer Francis Kenny. The sound was mastered from the magnetic sound elements. The film was first released onto DVDon March 30, 1999, in a barebones edition.
In 2001, a multi-region special edition DVD was released from
Anchor Bayin Dolby Digital 5.1., the DVD was released in the United States, Canada, Australia, Europeto high sales. In 2004 a limited edition DVD set was released, and only 15,000 were produced. The set contained an audio commentary with director Michael Lehmann, producer Denise Di Novi and writer Daniel Waters, a 30-minute documentary titled "Swatch Dogs And Diet Cokeheads", featuring interviews with Ryder, Slater, Doherty, Falk, Lehmann, Waters, Di Novi, Director of Photography Francis Kenny and Editor Norman Hollyn. It also includes a theatrical trailer, screenplay excerpt, original ending, biographies, 10 Page full-color fold-out with photos and liner notes, a 8cm "Heathers Rules!" ruler, and a 48-page full-color "yearbook style" booklet with rare photos. On July 1, 2008, a new 20th anniversary special edition DVD set was released from Anchor Bay to coincide with the DVD of Daniel Water's new film " Sex and Death 101". The DVD features a new documentary, "Return to Westerberg High".
On the DVD edition of "Heathers", the "special features" section contains the script for a different ending which was considered too dark for teen audiences and nixed by New World Pictures, the distributor. It reflects back on a comment by J.D. earlier in the film, saying to Veronica, in defense of his actions, that "the only place different social types can genuinely get along is in heaven."
In this version, J.D. dies in the boiler room, and Veronica is shown walking through the school, though only from the back. This is interrupted by shots of the bomb counting down, showing that Veronica had not shut it off. When she reaches the front of the school, Veronica turns around, allowing the viewer to see that the bomb was strapped to her chest. It hits zero, the screen turns black, and Veronica says "Boom."
The next scene is the school prom. A banner says "WHAT A WASTE, OH THE HUMANITY" (a line said by Heather Duke after the death of Heather Chandler, and again by the cops who discover Ram and Kurt's bodies). The students begin to dance, at first sticking with those of the same or similar social cliques. But when it is time for prom pictures, people from different cliques are couples. A geek and a stoner pose together, then "hippie" teacher Pauline Fleming (
Penelope Milford) and stern Principal Gowan ( John Ingle). Kurt (previously killed) has his picture taken with the cow he had tipped. Mismatched couples continue to appear, and other dead characters make appearances: J.D. plays a "smoking hot" guitar solo, then rushes to the dance floor to dance with Heather Duke, Kurt, and finally Heather Chandler. The Heathers do a ring-around-the-rosey. The camera is moved up to reveal Martha Dunnstock, wailing beautifully. The viewpoint is then lifted even higher to show a smiling Veronica in a "striking pose".
Despite the change of the endings, the movie failed at the box-office when released. (The "Swatch Dogs And Diet Cokeheads" documentary blames the box-office failure on poor marketing due to the studio's financial problems.) However, since then it has developed into a very strong and prominent
cult classicand has made a significant impact on teenage films.
poofs, influences, and references
The status of "Heathers" as a classic black comedy has inspired various spoofs, references and influences:
* Veronica and her not-so-popular friend have combination first and last names that go together (Betty and Veronica, from
Archie Comics, and Sawyer and Finn, from Tom Sawyer)
Tina Fey, the writer of " Mean Girls", considers "Heathers" "the hardcore version of "Mean Girls"." " Mean Girls" director Mark Waters, brother of "Heathers" screenwriter Daniel Waters, referred to his film as "Clueless" meets "Heathers"."Fact|date=August 2008
Post-hardcoreband From First to Last's album " Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count" is a quote by Veronica in "Heathers" ("Dear diary, my teen-angst bullshit has a body count").
* In the season 4 finale of "
Gilmore Girls", Lorelai Gilmoreshoves Rory Gilmoredown some steps, prompting her to say, "What's your damage, Heather?", a line uttered numerous times in the film.
* In an episode of "
Will & Grace", Will says, "What’s your damage, Heather?" to Grace.
* In an episode of "
Will & Grace", Will says, "OK, I’ll let you two Heather girls get back to your Heathering," after Jack and Karen start complaining about Will.
* In the novel "
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist", Norah wiggles her index finger at Nick and sing-songs, "A true friend's work is never done," only to be shocked by Nick's knowledge of the film when he responds "Bulimia is so '87, Heather."
* In an episode of "
Frasier" (Juvenilia), the lines "Why don't we discuss it over a cheeseburger or some such," followed by "I'd like that very much" are uttered twice referencing the final lines in "Heathers".
* The two police officers that discover the bodies of Kurt and Ram are named "Milner" and "McCord". Actors Martin Milner and Kent McCord portrayed officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed in the 1968–1975 police drama "
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