"Our way is the way, I mean we scare people into not being assholes"
It established a trend for social critique glad in dark humor, while continuing popular movie traditions of 'anti-hero' and visual subtext; the production combined rock video imagery, strong original score and actor driven characterization - creating an instant cult classic. And it wasn't only the target audience that was stirred by Heathers; the film's derisive, accusatory and violent aspects made it topical amongst oldsters too - those who'd been teen-aged around the time Ronald Reagan was toting his six shooter... Some said that Heathers was dangerous... Indeed, fifteen years after it first hit theaters, and columns, Heathers was still being offered as an example of 'irresponsible' cinema...
Screenwriter Daniel Waters had wanted to weave into the Heathers script some references to Salinger's 'The Catcher In The Rye.' For legal reasons this was not possible, but the stand in choice - 'Moby Dick'- turned out to be perfect, or even "perfecto."
"..To neither love nor reverence wilt thou be kind, and even for hate, thou cans't but kill, and all are killed..."
'Moby Dick' - the quote rich classic of 19th century American literature: largely the story of a 'Captain Ahab' - an individual obsessed, even possessed, by an effigy of loathing - a giant, white whale, known simply as Moby Dick; Ahab focuses the regret, anger, fear and pain of his own life upon this single 'enemy' and will stop at nothing to achieve its end...
When Heathers was released, in 1988, it caused consternation amongst old people (anyone aged over twenty six and a half) - some of whom claimed that the film was 'dangerous'.
Heathers does point to social divisions and psychological pathology endemic to high schools of the 1980s, and it seems likely that some people would be irritated by an untactful critique of school culture and youth consumerism - especially one deployed as a bitchy, dark-side comedy... In any case, many of the problems touched on by the film remain to this day, and lie in wait for those of what may later be termed Generation Y.
After a real multiple shooting incident at a real high school, which was partly blamed on the film The Matrix, the example of Heathers was again dragged into the argument for 'protective censorship' - again employed by those who would like to protect us by filtering what we see, hear, read and, ultimately, think...
And so, in way - a sad, post box-office way - they've paid Daniel Waters a further compliment: apparently, even after a decade and a half on the rental shelf, Heathers remains dangerous...
But at least the shoulder pads are gone..
Winona Ryder - Veronica Sawyer
Christian Slater - J.D. (Jason Dean)
Kim Walker - Heather Chandler
Shannen Doherty - Heather Duke
Lisanne Falk - Heather McNamara
Glenn Shadix - Father Ripper
Screenplay - Daniel Waters
Directed by Michael Lehmann
text: © Copyright 2003 cb salter. all rights reserved. | See also Heathers at I.M.D.b.