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Heathers (reissue)


Stars: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, Kim Walker, Glenn Shadix

Director: Michael Lehmann

Now there's weird, very weird and major weird. But Heathers, described by its makers as a teenage black comedy, is mega-weird, as well as being a trailblazer for such later hits as Mean Girls. Mega-weird that is for at least 90 minutes, before descending into conventionality (by its own standards) in the final reel.

There's a queen bitch cult at Westerburg High in Ohio and three of its four members are called Heather. They talk in a language all their own and show no mercy to intruders.

The fourth member is Veronica (Ryder) who, rapidly becoming disillusioned with the Heathers, is offered a way out in the form of smiling J D (Slater), whose easy grin hides a psychotic nature and whose plans to 'kill' one of the Heathers and a couple of school bullies with 'fake' frightening schemes prove to Veronica's horror to be all too real.

Most of the characters here, especially the parents, seem to have stepped from surreal paintings, and provide a bizarre backdrop to the stunning performance of Ryder. Slater, too, is most interesting as the martini-voiced J D, a worthy successor to Norman Bates. It's a pity that their two careers were never properly fulfilled.

That said, the film remains as relevant today as it was 30 years ago, as evidenced by the spin-off TV series that has just started showing in America.

David Quinlan

USA 1988. UK Distributor: Arrow Films (originally Premier Releasing). Colour by Deluxe/Print by Technicolor.
103 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 06 Aug 2018