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Have you seen Jawbreaker? You know the film with Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Judy Greer, and others? In it there is a group of stuck-up high school girls that rule the school and are nothing more then stuck-up snobs. A tragic accident leaves a member of their little clique dead and they have to keep it a secret since it really was their fault. Well, a few more deaths never hurt anyone if it keeps their reputations and popularity exactly at the high status they already are at. Well, let me introduce you kids to the film that had to be the inspiration for Jawbreaker, and that’s Heathers.
Veronica hangs out with the popular girls at school, but she can’t quite help but feel like she doesn’t exactly belong. It could be that the three girls she hangs out with are all named Heather which makes her kind of seem like the black sheep. Yet they are all rich, preppy, beautiful, envied by all girls, and wanted by all guys. It wasn’t just the fact that they were popular, but they knew it and took total advantage of it. Making fun of those who were below them was a common occurrence. Flaunting their wealth and showcasing their beauty wasn’t something that only happened rarely. Their lives were what everyone in high school dreamed of. Everyone except Veronica, of course.
J.D. was the new kid in school who sat alone at lunch, wore a long trench coat, and never really spoke to anyone. But still he caught Veronica’s interest and soon they became friends and much more then that. She entrusted her deepest feelings about life and her friends to J.D., and it became quickly obvious that she hated who she “had” to be. J.D. knew the answer to all of her problems and it was quite simple. He knew the solution that would free her of the burdens of faking she enjoyed being with the Heathers. All she had do was kill them.
Heathers was one of the first signs that showed Christian Slater would always be great at laying down the sarcasm and performing beautifully in dark comedies. At the time he was considered a young version of Jack Nicholson and it shows so much in this film. Not just his actions and his ability to draw in your attention, but his movements, facial expressions, and even his voice remind you of Jack. Even though he would go on to be very successful and star in another one of my favorite dark comedies ever, Very Bad Things; Slater never quite lived up to the hype he brought out as a young actor fresh on the scene.
Some of the things you’ll witness in Heathers are rather confusing, but they’re meant to be. At one point you’ll be laughing hysterically and then you’ll be disgusted and wonder how the hell you had a smile on your face not five minutes before. Oddly enough, many similarities can be drawn to Beetlejuice which came out the year before. You’ll recognize some of the music, the humor, the dark comedy feel, and even Glenn Shadix who plays Father Ripper here but battled the “ghost with the most” as Otho. Similar but very different that both entertain because they are strange and they accept that fact.
The film is shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it looks fantastic for being twenty years old. There is barely any fading or discoloration as everything looks bright and vibrant which is necessary for this film. For being as dark as it is mood-wise; it’s simply full of shining colors.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it also sounds very good. All dialogue can be heard loudly and clearly while the music never overpowers but fills in the background nicely.
Audio Commentary – Director Michael Lehmann, writer Daniel Waters, and producer Denise Di Novi are together for this track. And let me tell you that it is an excellent commentary track that gives a lot of inside information about the film as a whole. They have a very nice laid back conversation about Heathers and just reveal every single thing they intended to happen and what they meant by what was going on in the film.
Return To Westerburg High – This feature brings together Lehmann, Waters, and Di Novi again for some updated comments about the film. Here they delve more into the “making of” concept and talk about some more behind the scenes stuff. If you watched the film with the commentary before this, then you’ve already heard most of what is discussed here.
Swatch Dogs And Diet Coke Heads – This feature runs close to thirty minutes as the cast and crew take time to discuss their thoughts on the film and everything that went along with making it. The actors really seemed to embrace their characters and they let it known here that the parts they were chosen for were almost perfect matches. Lots of fun stories.
Original Ending Screenplay Excerpt (DVD-ROM) – An alternate ending of sorts that was never filmed.
Heathers is a timeless classic that is part comedy, part drama, and all kinds of darkness that was way past its time in 1988. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater are absolutely perfect in their roles and it had to be this film which made the similarities of Slater to Jack Nicholson start up. Don’t expect this to be totally understandable or even make the most sense because it won’t and it isn’t supposed to. There are numerous scenes where you’ll utter, “What the hell?” and that’s good because it is what’s intended. As for the special features, that’s a different story. There was a DVD release of Heathers that came out a little over ten years ago and all the special features except for “Return To Westerburg High” were included on it. So if you’ve already got that one then there is no need to pay for another copy with one new extra and an additional disc. For those that are new to the film then get yourself this version, a cup of Drano, and sit down for a fun evening.
Sigh…for the idiots out there; please don’t really drink Drano.
Anchor Bay presents Heathers: 20th High School Reunion Edition. Directed by: Michael Lehman. Starring: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty. Written by: Daniel Waters. Running time: 103 minutes on 2 discs. Rating: R. Released on DVD: July 1, 2008. Available at Amazon.com