Thursday, October 26, 2017

Retro Review: HEATHERS (1988)

Welcome to another installment of RETRO REVIEW, where we take a trip back in time to review a film made before the year 2000. This week we'll be reviewing the 1988 cult favorite dark comedy HEATHERS. This film starred three young actors on the rise at that time, Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty. 

HEATHERS was about popularity in high school and the dangers of it. The film's plot comes off as cliché at first, but director Michael Lehmann gave it a fresh twist. Of course there is clique of mean girls who are popular and run the school. The clique consists of three girls named Heather with the fourth being Veronica. She starts questioning the motives of the clique and the price of popularity. When Veronica meets new student Jason "J.D." Dean, played by Christian Slater, wonderful chaos ensues.

There are many memorable scenes in this film and I'll be discussing a few in this review. The first scene I'll be discussing is the "untimely" suicide of Heather Chandler. J.D. ends up making a hangover cure that Heather drinks. She ends up choking and falling through a glass table. The first time I saw this scene, it was magical. I was 8 years old and couldn't imagine high school students being capable of this. The students' reactions to her death were interesting. Most of them were jealous or hated her. Death has a way of making us think differently of a person.

Another scene that stood out to me as an audience member was when Veronica lured out Kurt and Ram into the woods. These two guys who had started a nasty rumor about her. Well, Veronica got her revenge. J.D. makes their killings look like a suicide pact and plants homoerotic material on them. Veronica starts to reconsider her relationship with J.D.

I loved this film growing up and know all the scenes by heart. This was just a movie, so I allowed myself to think it was funny, despite its dark and violent nature. Before there was MEAN GIRLS, there was HEATHERS. There has been talk of a sequel; but director Michael Lehmann says there are no plans in the near future in pursuing one.

Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a 95% approval rating. Most of the critics who reviewed the film on this site said that it was "Dark, cynical, and subversive, Heathers gently applies a chainsaw to the conventions of the high school movie -- changing the game for teen comedies to follow." I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Roger Ebert did not because he gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars. He stated that he felt like an unknown traveler in a foreign country viewing this film. However, he felt that the film inspires thought and with its great ability to shock is worth considering.

This film takes a dark and twisted look at the hierarchy of high school. It takes a cynical look at friendships and relationships established during the high school years. If you are a fan of '80's films, then give this one a go.

Lisa's Score: 9.5/10

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