Heathers

Heathers
 
(Michael Lehmann, 1988)
 
☆☆☆☆
 
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster 
 
Summary: A genuine cult classic with a hell of an edge, this is the Christian Slater we know and love (to loathe). 
 
Director Michael Lehmann burst on to the scene in 1988 with his greatly inventive black comedy thriller Heathers. Sure, a few years later he picked up a Razzie for “directing” Bruce Willis’ indulgence fest that was Hudson Hawk but at least his career started with a real classic. 
 
The plot is thus: In order to get out of the snobby clique that’s destroying her good-girl reputation, intelligent teen Veronica - played by Winona Ryder in one of her most memorable roles - teams up with a dark sociopath, J.D. (a career-best Christian Slater) in a plot to kill the cool kids in what became one of the 1980s’ defining cult classics.
 
 
Veronica is part of the most popular clique at her high school, but she disapproves of the other girls' vindictive behaviour. When Veronica and her new boyfriend, J.D. confront clique leader Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) and accidentally poison her (as you do), they make it look like a suicide. Soon Veronica realizes that J.D.’s intentionally killing students he doesn’t like. As she races to stop J.D., she also clashes with the Heathers’ new leader, Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty) with chaotic results.
 
Yes, since then a spate of actual school shootings in America has made the narrative hook of killing students particularly controversial but Heathers never takes the We Need to Talk About Kevin route. It’s actually bordering on fantasy in a way that comedy films just didn’t do at the time. 
 
Up until then, the idea of a high school comedy was Porkies or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This has got Withnail & I’s brutal streak and wit but also something even edgier that plays out like the training scenes of Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. The resulting blend of confused styles and bold grabs at comedy seem to somehow echo the awkwardness and excitement of school days (or rather daze). 
 
 
Now in its 30th year, it’s been granted reverence to boot. Be sure to check out the new Arrow Blu-ray. It looks and sounds great. Plus, it’s absolutely loaded with bonus features as well. 
 
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS 
 
• New restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative by Arrow Films
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original 1.0 mono audio and optional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Audio commentary by director Michael Lehmann, producer Denise Di Novi and writer Daniel Waters
• Newly filmed interview with director Michael Lehmann 
• A newly filmed appreciation by the writer, actor and comedian John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
• Pizzicato Croquet, composer David Newman and director Michael Lehmann discuss the music of Heathers
• How Very: The Art and Design of Heathers, production designer Jon Hutman, art director Kara Lindstrom and director Michael Lehmann discuss the look of Heathers
• Casting Westerberg High, casting director Julie Selzer discusses the casting process for Heathers
• Poor Little Heather, a new interview with actress Lisanne Falk 
• Swatch Dogs and Diet Coke Heads, an archival featurette with extensive cast and crew interviews providing an in-depth look at the making of Heathers
• Return to Westerberg High, an archival featurette providing further insight into the film’s production 
• Original trailers 
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Robert Sammelin
First pressing only: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Bidisha, Anna Bogutskaya and an archival interview with cinematographer Francis Kenny
 
 

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